Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment

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 Being treated differently due to the colour of your skin, your sexuality or your gender are completely outdated forms of oppression within today’s society.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 This outdated and ludicrous idea that people with white skin are ‘superior’ to those of a different race are just that, outdated and ludicrous.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.

• International Business Times. 2015. Racism in Scotland: One third of ethnic minority Scots have experienced discrimination. [ONLINE] Available at: [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: [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.