Recently we undertook a resource allocation task in which we were split into 5 groups and each group was given an envelope. We were then told to use the resources that were inside to design something that would be useful to a new university student. However, unbeknown to us at the time, this was not just a group bonding workshop but a workshop with a much more important meaning.
Our group were the first to receive the envelope but before we had even opened it, we had realised that it was significantly fuller and heavier than the other groups. It was filled with enough art resources that you could’ve opened a mini art shop! We had, bright pens, sticky notes, coloured paper and the list goes on. We looked round the room in curiosity of what the other envelopes held and it was obvious that we had the most resources and each of the 5 envelopes contained less than us.
In good spirits we went on to create a bright and colourful timetable, yet we were oblivious to the fact that the group sitting right next to us were struggling to make use of their single sheet of paper, 2 paper clips and a couple of pens. We were in our own little bubble, clearly happy by the fact we knew that we had the automatic advantage as we were provided with the most resources. When we were asked to present our ideas to the class we gladly showed off our ‘masterpiece’ as we had glanced around and knew that ours was the biggest and brightest. The praise and credit that we received from our tutor along with her undivided attention made us feel like we had succeeded in the task we were set. We were awarded 9/10 points. However, it was not until we reached group 5’s presentation that I realised this was not just about making the best item but was about something a lot more significant.
As group’s 2,3 and 4 stood and presented their creations it was clear that our tutor was losing interest with every presentation she was listening too, she was awarding each group with a lower score and providing less positive feedback. I was starting to feel sorry for the other groups as they each had less resources than the presentation before them but this factor was not being considered. I began to tell by the confused and frustrated faces of the other groups that something wasn’t right. Group 5 were up next and they’d managed to scramble together a timetable using their very scarce resources. Clearly demotivated and nervous to present, they stood up and gave it their best effort. They were faced by a blunt, uninterested tutor who promptly asked, ‘finished?’ then quickly awarded a 1/10. The room fell silent, nobody knew what to say or do. After a moment, our tutor explained the meaning of this task. It wasn’t about what you created but it was to make us aware that not everybody has the same resources or support but you can’t discriminate against them.
As teachers, we will inevitably be faced with classes full of children from all different backgrounds. Some will have a stable upbringing, yet others won’t. Some will be able to afford new resources, yet others won’t. Some will be living in adverse conditions, yet others won’t. Yet, what is important is that as teachers we provide every child with opportunity to succeed and learn no matter what external factors they face. When a child enters the classroom, they are all equal. This might mean that some children may need more attention and help than others but it’s about providing a stable and constant learning environment that allows them to thrive. Although I was aware of the diversity of a class, this exercise really highlighted the importance of not taking things for granted but taking into account what a child has had to go through to achieve the same as another child.