On Tuesday I attended my first values workshop. We were split into groups of four and were assigned the task of making a product for a new student using materials given to us in a brown envelope. I didn’t realise it at first, but each envelope had a slightly different amount of materials inside.
I was one of the lucky ones. I was in group two, meaning that we got slightly less materials than group one, but significantly more than what was given to group four. Throughout the workshop, our lecturer was constantly praising my group and group one, telling us about how amazing our products were, what good ideas we had, and how well we all worked together as a team. Honestly, it felt great. I really thought our idea must have been something special due to the amount of praise we were getting. (It wasn’t)
Groups three and four, on the other hand, weren’t quite as lucky as we were. As I mentioned before, they had far less materials to work with and it didn’t help that our lecturer wasn’t offering any constructive criticism – he was just giving them dirty looks and making rude comments.
Near the end of the workshop, our lecturer revealed to us that the entire thing was a complete farce and that he had managed to fool us all with his surprisingly impressive acting skills. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realised it sooner – it was pretty funny though.
As a class, we all discussed how the lecturer’s attitude towards each group and the amount of materials we got to work with made us feel and how challenging it made the task. My group and group one obviously felt great about the task and found it easy, but the responses from groups three and four weren’t as positive as ours. Some people said that they were left wondering what they could have done to annoy the lecturer and how they could keep under the radar to avoid annoying him further. One girl even said that she wouldn’t have come back to future workshops if she didn’t know that the whole thing was just a set up.
I feel that I have learnt a lot in just one workshop. As a student teacher, it made me think hard about how groups three and four were able to keep concentrated on completing the task. I’ve been in that position myself and I know that rather than focusing on the task, I would tend to panic about what I had done to annoy my teacher and so my work usually suffered. Teachers can make a huge impact on a child’s self-esteem depending on how they act towards them. If you build a student up by praising their efforts, their self-esteem will grow. If you show a disliking towards them or show one child clear favouritism you will knock the self-confidence of those less favoured students. Teachers’ attitudes towards their pupils will also be likely to make an impact on their overall education too, which is why it is so important that we must treat all our pupils fairly.
You can also look at this situation from another angle too. Even if Derek wasn’t rude to the other groups, they were still at a disadvantage from the very start. Although group four were able to produce a product, they didn’t stand a chance of creating something in terms of similar quality that group one produced. Group one had a huge advantage before the task even started simply because they had more to work with. It has opened my eyes to how much financial aid can really support a child through their education. Wealthier families can afford to give their children access to private schools and tutors that some families can’t afford, which creates a kind of welfare gap in educational attainment.
This workshop has made me really excited about what is yet to come. Although these situations are upsetting, they also really interest me too.