Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

Learning from Life


I cannot quite believe that I am back in Scotland. Two months definitely fly when you’re having so much fun. I have had the most amazing time over in the UAE exploring and getting to know all about the culture and the lifestyle there. It really is incredible.

I’ve gone from being a nervous 19-year-old who had never travelled themselves before, to a 19-year-old who now knows to never underestimate my own abilities and the things I am able to do. This placement has taught me a lot about myself and has done wonders for my confidence and initiative in new and unfamiliar situations.

I was lucky enough to work in both an IB school and a British Curriculum school over my 6 weeks of placement. It was so interesting to see a different approach to teaching and witness EAL (English as an Additional Language) teaching in practice alongside the differentiation that comes with it. For me, this showed me that lessons don’t have to involve everyone doing the same task and that we can find so many ways to teach a topic with different activities that meet the needs of all children. EAL was very interesting but also very challenging. For most of my pupils, Arabic is their first language and the language they use whilst at home. Consequently, their understanding of English and certain terminology is lower. When teaching and delivering lessons to groups of pupils, it often became more difficult due to the language barriers. This is where collaborative learning was a MASSIVE help. The pupils were able to translate what I had said into Arabic for some of their peers, which was so beneficial and because embracing the culture is such a big thing in my school, pupils are allowed to communicate using Arabic.

This placement also allowed me to fill a gap in my understanding that had been taunting me for years. Teaching Early Years. We had so many inputs about teaching in the Early Years during semester two of this year however I was still struggling to imagine how learning through play and planning and delivering a curriculum whilst incorporating play would work. I now have a much deeper understanding of how this is done and that although a lot of the day is playing, these experiences are vital and often have academic purposes. This has calmed me down significantly when considering my MA3 placement as I have now seen it in practice and have witnessed how to deal with behaviour, emotional attachment and the planning side to it.

One thing I would say to anyone considering going to the UAE whether it be to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah or any of the other emirates is to go with an open mind. This is something that looking back on my experiences, I wish I had. It is so so easy to be drawn in and form opinions about things based on what other people say. The UAE gets a lot of negativity due to some of their values, laws and culture. However, more often than not, this is blown out of proportion and when you actually spend time getting to know about the culture all these things seem so insignificant. I wish I could go back and tell myself not to have been so worried about what MIGHT happen.

Before I stop rambling, I would like to say that this has been one of the most incredible opportunities and experiences I have ever had. Learning from Life is a great programme and I would recommend going abroad if you ever wanted to. I am so thankful to Julie and Ray who let me stay with them and to all the people I met whilst there who really made my experience amazing. Here are some helpful tips below about the UAE.

  1. Parts of the UAE are very conservative. Try to be respectful when in public places such as malls by covering your knees and shoulders. This is a cultural thing there. At pools, beaches and hotels bikinis/swimsuits are totally fine and shorts and t-shirts can be worn out in public just not in places like the mall or any mosques.
  2. The UAE is slightly more expensive than UK prices but not significantly so. Make sure you check the exchange rate before you go so that you have a rough idea of how much money you are spending! There are loads of things you can do for free!
  3. Brunch – On Fridays in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah they have brunches. This is an experience which I would definitely recommend. You pay around 250 dirhams (£50- £55 this is the alcohol package) for unlimited food and drinks of your choice. The brunch is a great place to see loads of friends and have fun with amazing views.
  4. Although it is scary going to a different country yourself, everyone in the UAE was so welcoming to me so don’t be afraid to go and make friends – I’ve left Ras Al Khaimah with a new best friend!
  5. The metro in Dubai is a massive help. It’s very similar to the Subway in Scotland and gets you from A to B quickly.
  6. During Ramadan, you are not allowed to eat or drink in public places unless you are in a restaurant with covered windows. If planning a trip to the UAE I would take this into consideration as this year Ramadan fell in May and the temperatures were ranging from 35 – 40 degrees.

Some things to do –

  • Dubai Mall – This place is incredible however it is MASSIVE so make sure you give yourself time.
  • Dubai Fountains (situated outside Dubai Mall). The fountains are free and are well worth going to visit. They are also right next to the Burj Khalifa so if you don’t want to spend money going to the top of the Burj, you can see it up close from here.
  • The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is well worth a visit if you are in Abu Dhabi. This is also free and you are free to walk about the mosque. I was mesmerised by the mosque and the attention to detail! (Women will be given an Abaya to wear).
  • Kite Beach – This is a beautiful peaceful beach in Dubai with a view of the Burj Al Arab in the background. Lots of people surf here so it is very cool to see.
  • Ladies Night – Ladies night in the UAE is a way of getting males to come out with their partners by giving ladies a number of free drinks. Again this is a great way to catch up with your friends.

Finally, I have attached a video of my time in the UAE where I visited many of the places mentioned above!

Enjoy and if anyone has any questions feel free to give me a message on Twitter – @UODEdu_Purdie.



Accepting The Lives Of Everyone Through Growth As A Society

Gender neutral toilets/ changing rooms?

Should they be a thing?

I say YES.

Whilst studying the values module many topical issues such as; people living in poverty, people experiencing racism, homophobic comments or the issue of gender neutral toilets undoubtedly comes up but the question is why. 

Why are these things we class as ‘issues’ and why do they exist?

I struggle to grasp the concept that in a free society like ours people still have to hide or feel ashamed. Being transgender is not something which people should be made to feel ashamed of, if anything they should be proud.

An interesting TED talk by Ivan Coyote discussed their experience as a transgender and shares a devastating story about their friend’s daughter who didn’t ‘fit in’ with what society view as her birth gender. They tell us how she came home from preschool after peeing her pants because people in her class wouldn’t let her use the girl’s bathroom because she acted like a boy yet the teacher had told her to stay out of the boys bathroom because that wasn’t ‘acceptable’. Ivan dealt with this by telling the wee girl to hold it in if she could and wait till she gets home because they were so unaccepting. I find this disgusting. At the age of 4 children are being discriminated against for how they choose to behave in a social environment. It shouldn’t happen. But the reality is that it does.

If people are endeavouring to call their children gender neutral names such as ‘Max’ or ‘James’, and these be accepted by society, then surely society could become accepting of gender neutral toilets – after all what influence does it have on their lives?

However it’s not all bad. I recently visited Olympia – for those who don’t know what this is, it’s a swimming pool in Dundee – where they have a gender neutral changing room. As soon as I saw this I felt a sense of joy, progress even. In this changing room were a mix of people and amongst these not one person seemed to notice anyone around them. It begs the question of why do people actually fight against it? In a society like ours where so many people are so against things such as gender neutral changing rooms it was a sign of hope, I believe, that Olympia have gender neutral toilets and changing rooms showing that society can be united no matter what if people were more open minded.

As a training teacher to be I want to ensure that no child in my class ever has to experience the likes of what the girl in Ivan’s story did. As someone who identifies as straight I can honestly say I have no issue with having Gender Neutral Bathrooms or Changing Rooms and believe that they are a step in the right direction.

It’s 2017.

 It’s time to make a change.

Understanding Ourselves Racism Input

Prior to this lecture I had watched the materials and in particular felt the TED talk about growing up black was very empowering. I had the stereotypical definitions of what race, ethnicity and discrimination were however I was shocked to find out just how much they influence people’s everyday lives in that lecture.

Originally I came up with the following definitions;

Race – A group of people linked by their skin colour or origins

Ethnicity – The group in society your culture and beliefs belong to

Discrimination – Purposely excluding people in society based on their ethnicity, race or lifestyle.

An example explained to us was the story of Emmett Till a 14 year old boy falsely accused of ‘hitting’ on a white shop owners wife. It was explained to us that Emmett had later on been shot, beaten and left to die in the middle of nowhere. I personally thought this was disgusting however we were then informed of what happened after. Emmett’s uncle fought for Justice only for the opposition to be excused of their crimes. Later on it was revealed that the white female had lied about Emmett and that it wasn’t true. I felt the injustice of this story as the way people thought it was appropriate to treat Emmett based on his skin colour is disgusting and is made worse by the fact that it was all a lie.

This story in particular highlighted to me the extent of racism and its consequences and made me wonder why it still in 2017 occurs. I was shocked by how predominant racism still is especially in the US with the recent events in Charlottesville showing hundreds of people walking through the streets with torches chanting extremely racist things and discriminating against those of ethnic minorities.

In terms of discrimination the Bristol Bus Boycott story highlights the horrendous treatment of a black immigrant who was trying to get a job but was unsuccessful because the employer said they didn’t employ black people.

Before this lecture I had a very utopian view on this situation as I was under the impression that racism and discrimination was slowly decreasing however the current US situation highlights that it actually could be on the rise. I think it is extremely important to learn and be informed about these kinds of situations as it is so important that as people who are going to work with children of all ethnic origins that we are accepting and understand the troubles they often face so that we can attempt to resolve them.

I have inserted the Charlottesville event I referred to in this blog:

Resource Allocation Input

After Derek’s input on Resource Allocation the theme became significantly clearer. We were put into 5 groups and each given an envelope filled with resources and asked to create a resource out of the material we were given for first year students to use – basically a survival kit for new students. My group created a welcome week pack which included a map with the main buildings needed such as the Dalhousie Building and Bonar Hall for Matriculation. We also added in a timetable for welcome week, a pencil case and some main do’s and don’ts of welcome week.

At first I hadn’t acknowledged that some envelopes were larger than others and had more materials but after the first discussion about how people were going to use their materials it soon became clear that some groups had significantly more than others. Luckily, my group was in the middle so didn’t get too many resources but also didn’t get too little. This challenged our group to create a worthwhile resource with limited materials and challenged our creative minds.

It took a while but after our lecturer showed favouritism to some groups and was snappy with others it became clear that the theme was the attitude of people towards others with different lifestyles in terms of not all children being from well off families and some struggling to keep up. By giving some groups less materials they were forced to present a resource with very little. However this encourages them and shows us that although some people might have had more than others everyone will get equal opportunities to succeed and whilst they might not be there yet they have the ability to succeed and will.

I really enjoyed this seminar and was impressed by the approach taken to portray the theme!

Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

The ePortfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:

You can pull in a YouTube video:

You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:

You can upload an image or pull one in from Flickr or any other image sharing site.

Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.