Category Archives: 1.1 Social Justice

The mysterious brown envelope..

On Tuesday the the 20th of September all Education, social work and CLD students came together for our very first ‘values’ lecture. The lecture focused around the three levels of ‘bias’ and how to overcome these to make the unconscious conscious. We were also shown a video to exemplify how social structure plays a big part in unconscious bias which was very interesting and brought to light exactly what was meant.

By 4 o’clock it was time for the workshop. I was very apprehensive as to what would be involved in the workshop as this was my first one of the term. To begin with, we were asked to organise ourselves into groups depending on our birthdays and we were all numbered then split into groups according to the numbers. I was group number 1 woohoo! (at the time I didn’t realise quite how lucky I was). We all sat down at our table and each group was given a mysterious brown envelope that we had to wait to open. As our curiosity grew more and more, Carrie told us we had to use the contents of the envelope to make something which would help a new first year student at the University of Dundee. As we were all in this boat a few weeks ago, we thought it would be easy, depending on the contents of course!

FINALLY!! we were allowed to open up the envelope. Lots of coloured card, envelopes, post-its, paperclips, rubbers, pencils and pens fell out. My heart started racing as this felt all too familiar to the day of my interview and how nerve wracking that was when we were working in groups and trying so hard to gain a place on this course. I reminded myself that I was in the workshop to learn, to have fun and not to worry so much. Anyway, Carrie kept coming over to tell us how great the resources we had were. This in turn, surprisingly, made us feel like the idea we had wasn’t as good as it could be and maybe we should think of a different one. However, Carrie supported us all the way through the idea of a welcome pack full of maps, phone numbers, pens, pencils and rubbers and told us it was amazing. We still doubted ourselves but we weren’t going to change it after such a good response. By the time we finished we ended up with a surplice of the materials, we were surprised when a girl from another group came over to ask if she could trade a paper clip for a rubber as we assumed everyone had equal resources. However, when she saw we had lots of paperclips she realised we wouldn’t need another and ran back to her group before we could even resond. Unbeknown to our group, each other group progressively had less and less items. Even though I thought all their ideas were great, Carrie gave them a lot less positive feedback even to the point where she gave group 4 no attention at all. An underlying murmer began to take over the classroom as we were shocked at the way Carrie treated each group so differently even knowing though she knew of the different circumstances. Once we realised the girl that had come over was from group 4 we felt extremely bad as they really needed the resources that we had left over. This shows that you must help people even if you have no idea about their situation.  Carrie then went on to tell us that the whole workshop and the way she was acting was all fake!

It was revealed that the workshop was all about demonstrating the importance of equality. We spoke about how in every day life, all children have access to completely different materials whether it be the latest technology to the most basic teddy. Every one comes from a different background and it is so important to treat everyone as an equal with the same values and to try to remind others of this.  We even took it as far as to discuss inequality between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries, each group was able to represent a different country with how many resources they had.  This really brought it home to us as we realised inequality is all around us; places and people are being treated just as group 1 were in real life. Linking back to the lecture in the morning, it is also important not to let your unconscious bias allow you to treat people differently, this is why it is extremely important for people to make their unconscious conscious.

This workshop will have a lasting effect on me and I will be sure to use it for a lesson to teach the importance of equality as I feel it got the message across extremely well. I am still thinking of many examples of inequality. It has made me very aware that in this modern day it happens all around us. Hopefully we will be able to change that, even if it is just treating others and the children in our classes as equals and also teaching them as much as we can on the subject.

This video has also given me more insight and thoughts on it: