My first university workshop/tutorial was not what I had anticipated.
I’m not too sure what I was expecting; maybe some planning of a lesson or a group task. Well, we were given a group task but the outcome and underlying meaning was not so clear to me at the beginning. The class were split into 5 small groups and each given a brown envelope with resources inside with the task to create a useful tool for a new student at the university of Dundee. My groups envelope was bursting at the seems with coloured card, pens, post it notes, enough for us to build an extension on the V&A! Straight away we started to come up with ideas of what we could make and after much deliberation decided on a colour-coded, personalized timetable with a map of the university (exciting I know). We quickly put together our invention with lots of resources to spare and were to present it to the class- it wasn’t until this moment when we saw some slightly miffed looking faces and a few resentful glares across the room that we realized not everyone was given the same resources.
After the presentation, despite almost all the groups creating the same thing (a personalized timetable) with the resources they had been given, my group were showered with praises and the group with the least to offer were shot down. We were told how well we had worked together and the other group made to feel embarrassed for what they had produced. At first I thought ‘Wow maybe she (the tutor) just really doesn’t like one of them’ but then it dawned on us all.
We were treated differently because of what we had.
“Our inequality materializes our upper class, vulgarizes our middle class, brutalizes our lower class.” – Matthew Arnold
We hadn’t thought to offer up our spare resources to another group because we hadn’t noticed them in need, I personally felt a bit ashamed. We then discussed as a class how this links to inequality in the classroom and how important it is for teachers to balance out their time and focus with every child in a class, as everyone should be entitled to the same chances in life regardless of their background.