Author Archives: Heather Devaney

Drama workshop

The drama workshop really helped to show me that it was okay to not be amazing at drama and performing as there are so many other elements that performing to an audience.

Drama is an extremely effective way for children to be able to express themselves and step away from their every day life. Through drama they can experience culture, literature and the world in a way that many will find more enjoyable than just opening up a textbook. Children can then begin to grasp the deeper meanings of these things as they explore them in new ways.

I really enjoyed the still image activity. By using simple body language, and eventually one comment, we were able to create a very moving scene. I hope to do this with my class if given the chance as I feel it is important to give them different ways of stepping into someone else’s shoes. Also, using this method, children could be able to express their own feelings of the day letting the teacher see roughly the general feeling in the class.

Dance workshop

Before arriving at the dance workshop, I dreaded the thought of having to perform in front of my peers. Every experience I had ever had to do with dance consisted of learning, rehearsing and then performing a dance. As I am not particularly confident with physical activities, I was really not looking forward to dancing. However, it became clear quickly that this fear wasn’t warranted as it was nothing like I had been expecting.

By partaking in the ‘traveling’ exercise, everyone quickly became more relaxed. As there were no routines involved and we only had to perform 4 different actions, no one felt as anxious or nervous as they initially did.

 

Health and well being – food and health

In our groups, we discussed the meaning of health and wellbeing and the effect it has on our life. We all agreed that this was not only physically important, but also mentally, socially and emotionally. By teaching this to children, we would highlight the importance of caring for every part of themselves, not just their physical appearance. By highlighting how to eat healthily, children would be given the ability to make better choices regarding what they eat and drink.

Before the session, we had been asked to watch John Cornochan’s video titled Sugar Rush. The amount of sugar in perceived ‘healthy foods’ that were discussed shocked me as things such as fruit cordial had a much higher sugar content than I ever imagined. Packaging can be very deceiving as companies often hide their sugar content by labeling it using it’s scientific name that many do not know. Bringing this to the children’s attention would allow them to see that by eating a healthy balance of food can have many benefits to them.

Maths workshop reflection

Straight away in the lecture, we were all given numbers from 1 to 8 which were used to decide who would answer for our table. This was to ease the maths anxiety in the room, and seemed to work to a degree. Those who were extremely daunted by maths quickly tried to swap their number with a peer which left them feeling even more anxious. On the other hand, this method allowed a more wide variety of people to voice their opinions. It also helped to keep us on task as we all knew someone would be chosen to voice the discussion in which our table just had.
Enthusiasm, motivation and passion are all vital when teaching every subject but especially maths. Having maths anxiety myself, this felt like a very challenging prospect, however, I am already beginning to see ways in which I don’t need to feel this way. If teachers display a negative light to maths, most pupils will then adopt the same behaviour toward the subject and become disinterested. the more engaging, fun and exciting maths is presented, the more likely it is that the children will engage and flourish in this area. Parental maths anxiety also plays a large part in the views children take towards maths. If they regularly tell their child “I wasn’t any good at maths at school”, then children will feel as though it is okay to not engage in the subject. Building a bond with parents to combat this is extremely important as it can have long lasting effects on the child.
Also mentioned was the idea that you either had a ‘numerical brain’ or a ‘creative brain’. We were told however, that this was a myth as everyone is born with the ability to learn. You might be more inclined and advanced in one of the two areas, but you still have the ability to do well in both – if maths anxiety is overcome.

Our Society- Racism, Homophobia and Sexism

Racism, homophobia and sexism are words associated with hate and unrest within our society, so why do they still play a large, horrifying role in so many peoples lifes? Being treated differently due to the colour of your skin, your sexuality or your gender are completely outdated forms of oppression within today’s society.

Tuesday’s lecture not only touched on these issues, but also islamophobia and patriarchy. It was an extremely enriching and thought-provoking input that made me think a lot more about different ways people are treated in our society and how we, as upcoming professionals, will have a direct impact on children regarding these stigmas.

Racism has taken place in many extreme examples throughout history. Within World War 2 and Hitler’s regime, to the workings of the Ku Klux Klan in the USA. Shockingly, however, It still plays part in elements of our society. This outdated and ludicrous idea that people with white skin are ‘superior’ to those of a different race are just that, outdated and ludicrous. So why is it still present today? According to the International Business Times, approximately one third of Scots from ethnic minorities have experienced racial discrimination. To combat this issue, the government provided £3m worth of funding to groups and organizations whose aim is to end racism. On the other hand however, the government has been shown to also contribute to societies views on racism. In 1964, the conservative MP, Peter Griffiths, was voted to power in the general election for Smethwick based solely on the back of his campaign slogan – “If you want a n****r for a neighbor, vote Labour!”. This is not as far back in history as many might think. In fact, many parents of todays teens would have been born in or around this time. Growing up with such hatred being deemed as socially acceptable, would be hard to simply shake off. This is one of the reasons as to why todays younger generations harbor racist views and feelings.

Historically, homosexual men were portrayed on TV to be very over-the-top and extremely feminine. Even with children today, comments such as “That’s so gay!” evidentially keep some of this stereotype going. Being able to reflect o the past, allows us to see where we went wrong, and what we need to do to fix our mistakes. Slowly, society is becoming a more accepting and loving environment, but we still have a long way to go. This is mainly due to movements such as the LGBTQ+ parades, celebrity support and change in laws. During the 60s and 70s, language that was then deemed as appropriate can result in someone spending time in jail or being charged. By criminalizing homophobia, it teaches everyone, especially children, that it is not acceptable in this day in age.

Even today, women are, in some respects, regarded as second-class citizens. Recently, amongst celebrities and businesses, the pay gap between men and women has been revealed with shocking results. According to the UK Governments website, there is still an 18% gap in pay. Yes, this me be the lowest it has ever been, but it is still completely unacceptable! The notion of women being inferior, or incapable of responsibility has delved from thousands and thousands of years ago. Stories such as those in Greek mythology, portrayed women as unable to handle power, usually giving them such resulted in disaster and carnage. This delivered the message that women were incapable of maintaining any sort of power, which led to women being treated as male’s property throughout history. Patriarchy is still present in society, just like racism and homophobia. In 1990, in her novel about Theorising Patriarchy, Walby wrote “… a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women.”. Throughout the 1900s, newspapers contained articles directed at women all about how to keep their husbands happy and how best to clean the house. Fast forward over 100 years, and we still see similar things within the media. With women being referred to as ‘the wife of…’ and ‘childless’, society is in an endless cycle of patriarchy. It is only once we break down the ideas of racism, homophobia and sexism, can society really start to become a more accepting, inclusive and complete environment for everyone.

References:
• International Business Times. 2015. Racism in Scotland: One third of ethnic minority Scots have experienced discrimination. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/racism-scotland-one-third-ethnic-minority-scots-have-experienced-discrimination-1519662. [Accessed 30 September 2018].
• Giddens, A. & Sutton, P. (2013) Sociology (7th. Ed). Cambridge: Polity Press
• GOV.UK. 2016. UK Gender Pay Gap. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-gender-pay-gap. [Accessed 30 September 2018].

Equality and Equity- Reflection on task

Earlier this week I participated in a workshop in which the focus was the social inequalities within education. This, however, was not revealed until the end of the session, after the activity had finished. It highlighted the importance of creating equity across the classroom, not necessarily equality.
As we were split into 5 groups and handed an envelope per group and told to use the materials to make something that would make a new student’s life easier. The contents of the envelope quickly filled my group with disappointment. Inside we had one pencil, one sticky note, a small bit of blue tack, an elastic band, and three paper clips. Looking around the room, we instantly noticed that every other group had progressively more supplies than us. So much so, that the first table had too many supplies, that they lay untouched for the task.
Overcoming our initial anger at what we had to work with, we began to come up with some ideas of what would help a new student. Maps of the inside of each building on campus? Detailed lists of shops and leisure centres near the university? A guide to life at university? When we eventually settled on a booklet showing a list and map of the nearest shops, activities, travel and food places in Dundee, we began to make our product.
Having no paper to base the booklet, the envelope became our best and only option. As we began to work on the task, our lecturer came over to question what we were making. As she went to the first few groups, they received praise for all their ideas and felt appreciated for their work. After explaining our idea, we were met by looks of disdain and disgust, with questions like “Is that really all you are doing?” and “That doesn’t look anything like a map or a booklet”. Immediately, the group seemed to sombre, but having no other ideas, or any more supplies, we decided to continue.
When it came time to present our work, the first group showed off their work, receiving a loud applause from the class, and lecturer. Slowly the applause began to die down, until, at group 5, we were left with no applause and the lecturer saying, “that doesn’t even deserve a clap”. Then, as she marked each group out of 10, it was obvious what our result would be. 1/10. Not only did everyone in the group feel humiliated, but extremely hurt and angry at the fact that those with more materials received higher marks, even when some of their ideas were not particularly better!
Eventually, we were told that, in fact, there was a point to the entire workshop. We were asked how we felt, compared to how group one (who had the most materials) felt. If we noticed the difference of supplies from one group to another? And did we feel like it was a fair task? The groups with the most did not notice the last groups struggle due to lack of materials to work with, too consumed by what they had. However, those with less noticed almost straight away the vast amount off materials that they were not given. From the beginning, it felt like we were fighting a loosing battle, already at a disadvantage.
The workshop highlighted how children coming from poorer backgrounds had to work harder, with less materials, than those more fortunate, but were still expected to meet the same standards. When those standards were not met, we were made to feel inferior and useless compared to the ‘higher’ groups in the room. Equality, in this workshop, would have given a fair starting point for every group, allowing each the same opportunities as the other. However, once understanding this, we also realised that, in many cases, equity was a lot more important than equality.
This workshop, and everything we learned from it, correlates directly to the General Teaching Council’s (GTCS) Social Justice page about equality and equity. This has allowed us to not only understand the reasons why equality and equity are important, but also allowed us to feel how the lack of equality effected our work. This stands us in great stead for our further learning, and also moving on into our career.

To teach or not to teach?

During my years at school I quickly realised that teachers had a large impact on my school experience. One teacher in particular inspired me, during my primary years, to want to teach children. She always encouraged me to do my best and reach my full potential, which showed me the type of teacher I aspire to be.

Coming from a school which was considered to be deprived, the attainment gap was extremely evident within my peer group. This experience has given me the drive to want to help close this gap within education and within the classroom. Children are more impressionable when younger, so a large responsibility is placed upon early years teachers to try and ensure that each student has the same opportunities within learning. The passion I have for this is the main driving factor as to why I want to become a primary teacher.

Additionally, being a young leader in girl guides allowed me to see how rewarding teaching can be. Seeing a child develop and mature is a completely rewarding experience and being able to impact them in the slightest way makes me proud of my ability to influence them in certain ways. Building up trust within children can be a difficult task, some take longer than others to feel as though they can confide within you, whereas others are more willing to believe what you say. The build in relationships between a teacher and their class is not only gratifying, but helps to maintain children’s attention and develop their social skills through interacting with a range of people.

I strongly believe that children need someone they can trust and rely upon to help build their confidence and personalities in a way that only a teacher can. Being able to help shape the minds of the younger generations is not only a privilege, but also a responsibility that must be taken seriously to help aid in their growth. My experiences have all impacted upon me, from primary school until now, to want to become a teacher that children can feel safe enough with, but also know which boundaries are set in place.