Category Archives: 1.1 Social Justice

Reflecting on Semester 1

My first semester at the University of Dundee has been filled with countless learning opportunities and times of significant personal growth. However, one of the most significant moments of the past few months was during a lecture given on the effects of poverty. Before this specific lecture, I had, (admittedly) not taken much thought on the consequences for those living in persistent poverty and the challenges that these families face day after day. It was this moment, within my first semester, that I truly began to think perceptively about the obstacles that the children who I will come to teach will have to overcome in order to experience education in the same way as their peers. Having the knowledge that all children are experiencing the world differently had struck me as particularly poignant in today’s society.

After the lecture was over, I was not completely satisfied with just two hours’ worth of insight into those living in poverty and so I began my own research into the topic. It is safe to say that I was gripped, both by a sense of complete disbelief in my previous ignorance and by a newfound need to ensure that those children who do live in poverty, experience their education in an equal way with their peers and succeed to their fullest capacity. I was dumbfounded by the information that I found. On news articles, journals and even a number of documentaries, the revelation that children of poverty are at an extreme disadvantage was stark. Knowing that these children; will eat less meals than the rest of their class, such as missing breakfast (affecting levels of concentration and having a detrimental effect on their learning); will become socially excluded due to a lack of personal hygiene, as families are unable to regularly access hot water and being unable afford certain resources, so children frequently miss taking part in activities such as going outside during playtime in the winter as they cannot afford a coat, scarf, gloves or hat has allowed me to embrace my own personal values and a keen interest in creating a more equal sense of social justice within my professional practice.

Section 3.4.2 of the Standards for Registration (SPR) indicates the importance of and ways in which reflection can play a part in the development of the prospective teacher. Reflecting on my values and how the critical moment of sitting in that lecture theater and becoming aware of the injustice of poverty has allowed me to consider how this will benefit me as a professional in education. Having a knowledge of my fundamental values will allow me, in the future, to encourage all children, from all backgrounds to achieve their best. Reflecting upon my learning will inevitably allow me to grow and develop a set of principals in which I can utilise to reach my potential in teaching and therefore consequently allow my pupils to reach theirs. I am beginning to become aware of the importance of reflection and how it will allow me as a prospective teacher, to continue to learn and grow much further into my teaching career.

Resources Task- The Value of Equality

During our most recent values seminar, we were divided into five groups. We were then given resources, such as paper, coloured pens and paperclips, in which we had to use to complete a creative task. I was in group three and found that as soon as we were given our resources, we were aware that we had less than some of the other groups. This immediately sparked outrage amongst our group, finding our three pens and two sheets of paper much less satisfactory than group one, who had numerous pens and multiple sheets of paper.

Because of our discontent with the resources, this set us back significantly in planning and preparation time. As an individual, I found the situation extremely unjust and could not understand why groups one and two were awarded with more resources when there were no other significant differences between the groups. Due to the fact that we had less resources, we were unable to do as well in the task and this was reflected in the score which we were given (a 4/10). This score knocked my own confidence in the task and caused tension within our group. We found this score to be profoundly unfair, particularly as we had to work much harder to achieve an adequate outcome.

However, our group did not have the least number of resources. Since the very beginning of the task, we were too focused on those who has more than us; we did not realise that some groups had even less. As an individual, I was too focused on the injustice of our situation and how unfair I felt that we were being treated, that I failed to realise that groups four and five were being treated even less fairly. I was too consumed with resentment about how we were supposed to use only two sheets of paper to realise that group five did not even have one sheet.

On reflection, our group could have collaborated and shared our resources with the rest of the groups. This would have meant that everyone, from groups one to group five, would have had the same amount of resources and would have had an equal chance at creating a successful product. Instead of focusing on how little we believed we were given, we should have been more open to the idea of sharing our resources and working as a whole group to ensure that everyone had enough to work with.

The purpose of this particular values seminar was to highlight the need for equality. This means that any individual, no matter their background or current situation should be given the chance to achieve their best. This translates well into the teaching profession as it emphasises the fact that all children deserve to achieve and succeed in all that they do. We must take care in making sure that all children feel that they are being treated equally, giving them the same tools and resources in which they can achieve their potential. From my own personal experience of the resource task, I found that I had a lack of confidence when it came to the presentation of our idea and this was largely due to the fact that we were at a disadvantage for having less than others. This is often a reality for those individuals who have less resources such as money.

Our job within professions such as teaching, social work and CLD is to ensure the fair treatment of all children and young people without judgment or bias, breaking down the barrier that is caused by the amount of money a child has, their social class or their background. This task suggests that some children need more help than others and this should not be ignored. A child should always have the opportunity to thrive and develop and feel that they have as much of a chance as any other child to achieve their best, using a fair allocation of resources that benefits everyone.