Category Archives: My educational philosophy

Dancing – A Cultural Take

So this post hasn’t worked out exactly as planned – as Glow is insisting to view the video from the post you have to download it – but don’t worry, I promise it’s worth it!

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I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share a bit of Scottish Culture – Highland  Dancing!

Albeit one of the oldest styles out there, it was traditionally only danced by men. (Which is very different nowadays, as the sport is now around 95% female!) In the past, the style was used as a way of selecting the strongest men for battle, as the dances test strength, stamina, accuracy and agility.

This particular dance that I have filmed (myself!) doing, is the highland fling. Historically, it was danced on a small round shield by soldiers heading into battle. Nowadays, as a solo dance, dancers are only encouraged to dance on the spot, no shield needed! it is the first dance in the programme at competitions where it can either be 4 or 6 steps long. This dance was inspired by the Stag – the arm movements used represent the animal’s antlers. There is a legend that states an old shepherd was giving his grandson a lesson on the chanter when he spotted a stag in the distance. The Grandson got up and imitated the stag, whilst moving to the music of the chanter – alas, the Highland Fling was born!

There are some lovely stories behind other highland dances. One of which is the sword dance (OR “Gillie Callum”). This would be performed by a soldier over two crossed swords, prior to battle. He would dance around them and then over them, getting faster towards the end. If he was to touch the swords at any point, it would be a bad omen for the battle ahead. Nowadays, this is obviously not the case, but a clattering of the swords will have you disqualified and you won’t place in the dance! Luckily for younger dancers, there is some leeway, if they gently touch the swords, it only means some points are deducted…

The Seann Truibhas (“shin trews”) is another great story. The name comes from the Gaelic word for “old trousers”, and there is very good reason for this. In 1745, the kilt was banned, and this meant it could not be worn for dancing purposes, therefore, the dancers were forced to find an alternative. Thus, being the tartan trews! The dance starts off very graceful and has a lot of shaking momevents of the legs, this symbolises the hatred to the garments they were wearing and is supposed to look like they are being kicked off! The final step of the dance is faster, and ends with a leap (front-split like movement in the air!), demonstrating the satisfaction of finally being allowed to wear a kilt again in 1782.

Highland Dancing has grown in popularity over the years and there are now major championships in almost every corner of the Globe. Derivations of the movements have been created and some amazing choreographies have been thought up and performed in front of crowds of thousands!

Day 1 at Somerset

Okay. So. Somerset is AMAZING!

Arriving at the school this morning was incredible. The campus is so big there are separate gates for pre-prep, junior and high school. I am still overwhelmed at the size of this school and the amount of staff they have for everything. They even have a snake catcher!

The beginning of my day was spent getting photos taken, completing inductions and collecting my “blue card” which permits me to work with children in Australia. I was also shown around the school a bit more getting a glimpse of their library, staff rooms and all of the fire evacuation points. Fire procedures etc are similar to those in Scotland, but it was so interesting to hear abut their “lock down” procedure they have in place “just in case”. When this happens the song “the man from snowy river” plays over the loudspeakers, which prompts all doors to be locked and the children to hide away out of sight.

The classroom routine is also noticeable different. Between the beginning of school and recess, children stop to have a “brain snack”. It was so lovely to see a study break being encouraged and the children learning about the importance of relaxing their mind. It was also a shock to see how much the sun influences the day. All classrooms have approved sun tan lotion for children to apply, and “no hat no play” is enforced school-wide to provide extra protection to the children’s heads and necks. Additionally, the majority of the school is actually underneath shade to ensure the safety of the children.

I particularly loved the work ethics in the classroom. In the afternoon the children were working on their “rainforest cafe” as part of their assessment for the end of their first line of inquiry. The children all went off to more “comfortable” working areas. I was astonished at how to motivate the children were not only to get a substantial amount of work done but also to do so at a high standard. All without prompting from the teacher! No one was off task, no one was chatting off topic – it was incredible!

At the end of the day, we went along to the week 8 assembly. I definitely had not anticipated how formal this would be. The school head, as well as the head of the junior school, were sat on the stage as well as a selected few pupils who ran the assembly. I was even asked to stand up and wished a happy birthday in front of the whole school (which was a very nice touch!) Then, they only went and announced the national anthem. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole as I didn’t have a clue what the words were. I definitely have some homework to do!

Now for day 2! I am so excited to see more inquiry in action, specialist teachers and lots of sports!

Placement Jitters

Current mode: panic!

No, not really. However, I am feeling very nervous about placement which begins TOMORROW. I say placement but is, in fact, a “prac”. I arrived in Australia Friday just passed and about to undertake a placement in Somerset College, an International Baccalaureate world school in Queensland!

As well as all of the nerves I felt before my last placement, I’ve accumulated about ten zillion more. Well. Ish. This is a totally different curriculum to Scotland and I am so incredibly excited to learn more about it.  An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was

An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was fresh off the plane has really given me a feel for the place. It is nothing like any of the schools I’ve been in before. It has an Olympic-sized swimming pool (which actual Olympic teams come over to train in!), a massive gym complex, sports fields, running tracks, multiple buildings, hugely facilitated classrooms all on a campus about four times the size of the campus at Dundee Uni! A short introduction to my class and a quick chat with the teacher has given me a little insight into the class dynamics. Lots of excitable little faces that I can’t wait to teach and learn from!

Australia as a place is EXTREMELY HOT. I am boiling, but it is way better than chilly Scotland. I
am very intrigued to learn about how the sun affects the daily routines of the school. I am so excited to learn more about Somerset and Australia, which just happens to have the cutest koalas EVER.

 

 

Common Purpose Study Abroad Opportunity – Malaysia!

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-19-50-37Recently I’ve just returned home from a fantastic opportunity offered by the university to visit Kuala Lumpur on a leadership programme offered by Common Purpose. I’m still a little stunned, as I didn’t even think I’d be selected to go, however, I did and I had such an amazing time.

The programme involved exploring what a smart city is, leadership, exploring cultural leadership and undertaking the “challenge”.

When we first arrived in Malaysia we had time to explore the city. It was absolutely amazing and a bit of a culture shock compared to Scotland! We delved right in experiencing everything from the public transport to the food, navigating ourselves around the city (and getting lost in taxis!) We were introduced to our peers we’d be working with from both Heriot Watt Edinburgh and Heriot Watt Malaysia and got our bearings. We were introduced to all of the tourist spots including the KL tower, Twin Towers, and Batu caves!

Statue and stairs leading to Batu Caves

Statue and stairs leading to Batu Caves

The first thing we explored within the programme was “cultural intelligence” (CQ). We found it was an essential element to understanding the world and people around us. The programme taught us that this involved the cross between different cultures, but also different generations and even organisations. Personally, I felt this was how well we understand and respect others from different backgrounds.

We also took part in a number of group work activities. We were

Our winning tower!

Our winning tower!

grouped in a mixed group from Dundee and the two Heriot Watt campuses so we had a lot of diversity in our little team. We done little group work activities such as building the tallest tower (which we won!) as well are more thought-provoking activities. The one which got me the most was a group activity with cards. Each member of our team was given around 6 cards with very controversial statements regarding things such as religious clothing and if it should be worn at work, euthanasia and global warming. These were to be grouped into agree, disagree and can’t decide. after everyone had placed them down, we had the opportunity to read them all and turn over any we felt had screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-19-55-23been placed in the wrong area. These cards were then discussed and provoked some very interesting discussions. It was so interesting to hear other points of views on subjects that are not normally spoken about. This also provoked discussions on the difference between Scotland and Malaysia in regards to LGBT rights, legal systems, religion, and climate. These were very interesting to hear. I don’t think I was quite aware of the significant differences.

The programme was mainly aimed at the “challenge”. On two days there were opportunities to visit one of four businesses, so there was someone from your team represented at each. I visited ThinkCity and Women’s Aid.

Our group after visiting ThinkCity!

Our group after visiting ThinkCity!

ThinkCity is an organisation that uses small government grants to support communities to improve them. They ensure they involve the community and make sure what they are doing is really what the community needs. We heard some lovely stories of their past projects and it was great to hear how much of an impact they have on the local people.

Women’s Aid is an organisation that provides short term aid to Women who are victims of domestic abuse. Women are not particularly represented well and there is still a strong male dominance within the political system. This organisation comprising of social workers and volunteers work extremely hard, even more so considering there are two separate legal systems, one for everyone and one for muslims to follow.

After everyone had visited their organisations, we came together with our local mentor to come up with an idea. We felt that there were significant issues regarding the representation of the disabled and elderly. The first day I was in the city I was shocked at the fact the buses were so high up and didn’t even come over to the pavements as well as the lack of lifts or accessible footpaths. We later found out that due to this people who would benefit from these facilities cannot venture out without help. We decided that the disabled and elderly would be the focus of our idea, and we would implement these features into the community. After speaking to our mentor we also included the facilities at local community centres, to give these people an opportunity to leave

Our poster to go alongside our elevator pitch video and presentation!

Our poster to go alongside our elevator pitch video and presentation!

the house on outings and to join social groups. On the final day, we produced an action plan and presented our idea to s senior/expert panel. We were supported before doing so in a pitching workshop where we worked on the skills necessary to do so successfully. They were touched that we’d recognised the need for support for these people, as is not the first thing people consider when they think about “smart cities”

This opportunity was incredible and one I never even knew existed until I happened to open the email sitting in the library only a few weeks back. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me and the experiences I gained along the way. Malaysia is incredible and I hope to visit again soon!

The Heriot Watt Malaysia campus was incredible!

Heriot-Watt Malaysia Campus was incredible!

 

Opening Our Arms

 

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

As the first plane of Syrian refugee’s touches down in The United Kingdom today, I feel it is important to reflect on how positive it is that our country has opened its arms to these people in their time of need. Britain has agreed to take in around 20,000 refugees over the next five years, which I feel is fantastic. It is amazing when countries step in to help at times like this, and even more amazing that this time it is us.

As most of the refugees coming over are families and are due to resettle in various local authorities across Scotland, I feel it is appropriate to reflect on what this means for us as teachers. These refugees will be in need of specialist medical care and specialist support to help them through any issues derived from the violence and torture they have experienced. There are already places within schools set aside for them.

A lot of these children would have been forced to quit school if they were even lucky enough to be there in the first place. We will have to be aware as teachers, that these pupils are likely to be learning English as their second language. This will face us with certain challenges. We will have the additional factor that their understanding on the English language may not be as developed as the rest of their classmates, as well as the fact that they will be at a disadvantage socially due to the language barriers.

self-esteem-and-mathThese children will also have experienced loss all around of them, and lost connection with a lot of their friends and family. This will have had a very negative effect on their self-esteem and confidence. As teachers, we have the responsibility to recognise this and put into effect support strategies to support these children in this difficult time.

A way in which we can do this is “buddy” systems. This will help them get to know their peers, and ensure they are not lonely at times such as breaks and lunch. Children may feel secluded as their parents may not want to bring them along to after school activities when it is dark – so it is essential they are given a good opportunity to socialise during these breaks within the school day.

In countries such as Syria, schools are often targeted by terrorist activity. We need to make sure these children coming into our UK schools know that they are now in a safe environment.

It’s heart-breaking to think about what they’ve been through, but there is the chance that their past experiences may have an effect on their behaviour. Children may be distant, and refuse or even become frightened around strangers, so a close eye will have to be on them in the early days to ensure they are settling in and coming well. Struggles may also be apparent when they are placed within large groups, they may need one-to-one support before they can build up the confidence to take part in whole class activities.

ok_to_move_forwardWe should never ask children to re-live these traumatic experiences, ever. No matter whether it is a written exercise, homework exercise, or ANYTHING. We should also make sure they are never questioned by any other staff or child as to why they are here. They deserve to be in school getting educated as much as everyone else.

Most importantly of all, we need to provide a school experience for these children that is positive and welcoming. These children have a lot to offer and have been through so, so much to get here.

What is personality?

In today’s input by Patricia, I found the aspect of personality very intriguing.

Personality, as quoted in Bee and Boyd (2012, p 218) is “The individual’s enduring patterns of responses to and interaction with others and the environment.” 

Personality is a very difficult area to study, as everyone is different.

There are five different dimensions of personality traits:

  • Extraversion (opposite to introversion)
  • Agreeableness (warm/compassionate or cold/distant)
  • Openness (Ability to imagine, be insightful and question things)
  • Conscientiousness (our impulse control)
  • Neuroticism (stability/instability of emotions)

An ambivert is someone who is both an introvert and an extrovert. One test of this was by Grant. He assumed that sales persons would be better if hey were extroverts. However, he found that it was actually the ambiverts that were, as extroverts can be too loud, overconfident and come across as cocky.The ambiverts were better as whilst they were confident in themselves and their role, they were also able to be quiet and listen to the needs of customers.Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 14.17.58

I took an online test to figure out whether I am an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert.

The result (pictured right) is that I am not either introvert or extrovert, I am in fact an ambivert; in-between the two. I totally agree with this, as I am an outgoing person, but at the same time I do like to have some “me-time!”

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.’  – Carl G Jung

This is easy to agree with. Someone who lacks in social skills will not be able to function properly in society. Likewise, someone who is overconfident and overly-clingy will have the opposite problem. I would however not use the term “lunatic asylum”.

The five big personality traits:

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If I was to rate myself on these I would say:

  • Extraversion – 6
  • Agreeableness – 9
  • Openness/intellect – 8
  • Conscientiousness –7.5
  • Neuroticism – 7

Since I was a child, I do not feel my personality has changed much. I am still the same outgoing bubbly independent person, who still likes to have time to myself. What I would say is I’ve become more confident in myself and really began to understand my own personality more over the past few years.

However, is personality predetermined by nature?

NatureNurtureThere are some genetically determined characteristics that we are born with, and differences in personality are termed physiological. There have been some tests with identical twins, which has found they have the same personality traits. This is also the case with normal siblings – even though most of us assume we are completely different to our siblings. There is a dip in the personality expression in terms of physiological processes. Everyone has a stable temperament and disposition from childhood right through to when they become an adult, and the environment plays a part in influencing or modifying how our temperament changes.

What about the other side of the argument, nurture?nurture

Yes, how we are brought up plays a big role in the way we learn how to act. Often our traits are
gained through observations and are termed “learned behaviours”. I believe nurture plays a large role in developing our personalities. If your mother is outgoing, you will subconsciously grow to act the same as her. Another example of this, is you are unlikely to have shy parents who do not communicate well raising a very outgoing child. A shy child in a new situation will show signs of muscle tension, an increased heart rate and dilated pupils. They are born with this disposition towards physiological processes. The cerebral cortex of these shy/anxious children is thicker. Out temperament and disposition become stable, and our experiences shape this.

The behaviourist principles of personality development is a very interesting learning theory. The principles include:

  • Strengthening behaviour through reinforcement
  • Reinforcing said behaviour intermittently to result in better learning
  • If reinforced too often, it will not be effective.

It is important not to reinforce negative behaviours. If they know they will continue to get attention from behaving in a certain way (E.g. badly) they will continue to do it, reinforcing this behaviour.It is also better to reinforce intermittently. Doing it every time will cause them to lack motivation as they will know they don’t need to work to get praise. By praising occasionally, they will be motivated to work harder. This is an interesting lesson for teachers. It takes a while to influence a child’s behaviour so it is important that in the process we are enforcing the correct behaviours.

Bandura’s Social learning theory

Bandura’s Social learning theory is built upon the idea of modelling. Modelling is when we observe someone, and copy their behaviours.

( e.g. If a child grows up in an area where everyone acts the same; such as where people shoplift and vandalise; the child will learn this behaviour through the process of modelling, can be a motivation to learn behaviour.

This “modelling” is when we strengthen our behaviours through constant reinforcement. These reinforcers cause personality to develop through both cognitive and physical factors.

The self-efficiency aspect is when we consider how we feel about ourselves and our own standards. People who are self-efficient are those likely to go right away from a lecture and complete the associated TDT. Those who don’t go away and do this may not do so for reasons such as they are not confident enough, or that “no one else is” – these people have low self-efficiency.

These behaviours are reinforced by parents, who model a child’s “internalised standards”. E.g. a tidy house is a standard of learning.

Bandura’s model is based on a process of observation, imitation and internalisation; along with cognitive, physical and motivational factors.Learning-by-Watching-Social-Cognitive-Theory-and-Vicarious-Learning

The four conditions that need to be met are:

  • Paying attention
  • Remembering
  • What can be physically copied
  • Motivation to imitate

This theory can be analysed whilst considering learning a new sport. You need to be able to pay attention to what you are doing, if you cannot do this you will not know what they are doing in order to move on and develop the next condition. You need the ability to remember a breakdown of the sport and all the different parts of it, in order to piece together what your role in it requires you to do. If you cannot do this, you will be physically poor at the sport- which is the next step. Different things can be copied, the most important being the movements. However by observing a professional it is hoped that we will subconsciously learn their confidence and good techniques. Our motivation to imitate is our initial desire to attempt the sport. If we are not motivated o try, we will have no desire to learn and, therefore, take nothing away from the observation. By only observing, we won’t remember or be able to physically copy what the person is doing.

Freud’s Theory of Personality is initially based on the idea of sexual needs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.53.01 I do not agree with the age stages within Freud’s stages of development, as I feel his view that we stop developing at the age of 18 is, well, crazy. I’m only 18 at the moment and I feel, especially in terms of my personality that I have a lot more developing to do. Also, none of his stages are backed up with scientific evidence. In fact, most of his clients were actually middle aged Vietnamese women. Many elements are right, but are difficult to test making this theory very hard to prove or disprove.

 Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development

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Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development is based on the concept of ego-identity. Erickson states that the successful completion of each stage, leads to a healthy progression into the next one. It also helps create a good personality and very successful social skills. The theory does state that failure of a stage hinders development, which is questionable.

I do not fully agree with this, as things that go wrong can be resolved, and this theory is very hard to prove or disprove due to a lack of scientific testing. The quote “life begins at 40” comes into mind. This makes sense in accordance with this theory, as by 40, we have developed all our personality traits.

I agree with the fact that Erickson’s theory goes right up to the ages of 40+. This is interesting, especially when thinking about the phrase “life begins at 40”. As according to Erickson that we have developed almost all our personality traits by then, maybe this is true?

This Is very relatable and makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways. It is very understandable that trust is built up in the first year of life. Also, that tivities become goal orientated around age 4-5, which I can personally relate to as I see my little sister going through this phase at the moment.

I do however disagree on providing an approximate age scale. Yes, it is good to know where children should be at what age, but even a slightly different wording to “suggested age scale” would make it less stressful for parents who’s children are not quite at the right development for their age (within reason, obviously).

I believe it is important we learn about personality so we can take this knowledge into the mpd
classroom and be able to identify the different personality traits of our pupils. This will allow us to spot signs of slower development and identify poor behaviour styles.

This will have a positive aspect of the child’s development in the classroom as they will get more direction from a teacher who understands their personality. It may even help forming that relationship a little easier.

My take on the Allegory of the Cave…

At school I studied Religious Moral and Philosophical Education, as I hoped it would help me when coming to university and fulfilling the philosophy aspects of this course. However, my teacher had a tendency to focus on religion, so I never gained that insight into Philosophy that I’d essentially hoped for. I have really enjoyed the philosophy inputs, as it is something new to get my head around and I have found it all very interesting!

The philosophy input I enjoyed the most was Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Brendan Knight gave us a very interesting insight into Plato’s theory which has stuck in my mind ever since.

Plato, who was an Ancient Greek Philosopher is from Athens , born in 423 B.C.E. Plato was prevented from a career in politics due to the aftermath of a war with Sparta, which brought a group of wealthy men into power known as the 30 tyrants. Plato instead became a pupil of the philosopher Socrates.

Socrates however was executed for heresy in 399 B.C.E, after which Plato began to write and teach with many of his philosophical works in the form of dialogues. The main character in all these being his old teacher Socrates, who would debate questions such as “what is life”.

In the seventh book of the republic Plato chose to focus on the differences between what seems to be real, and what actually is real. This is what is known as the Allegory of Cave, a short story highlighting these differences.

In Brendan’s lecture he spoke of the term “experience”. To understand this, he asked us – what if we grew up inside a cinema? We see life through the films we watch, without ever leaving… and this is our only experience of the world outside the cinema…

Plato’s theory of the Cave is very similar to this. He pictures three people born in a cave. They are chained up and facing away from the entrance; they never see what is actually happening out with the cave – only reflections of the outside world reflected on the wall in front of them. They can hear what is going on, but they cannot see it. The cave and the shadows on the wall in front of them is their only experience of existence.

One day, one of the three escapes their chains. At fist they are very weary, and scared to proceed. But the thought of a new experience encourages them to keep going. At first, he is blinded by the light, and very frightened. But he decides to proceed. His eyes eventually adjust to the light and for the first time he experiences life outside the cave. To him, it is a revelation. Something new, something he has never before experienced.

His first instinct to return to his cave, to what is familiar to him. However, he eventually decides to explain this new experience to the two others in the cave, He explains that they HAVE to experience this new world, the beautiful views and all the new sights and senses. They think this is absurd, and assume he is crazy. They are only used to life in the cave though – right?

The man simply cannot persuade them. He leaves to experience this new world out with the cave in which he is used to; the thought of something new being just too interesting for him to leave behind for the four walls of a cave. The message behind this is; “The men in the cave can only understand what they experience, nothing more”, whereas this man who has escaped, has had a taste of a new world. He has educated himself that there is more to life than the shadows on the caves wall. He realises than this outside world represents the true form of a world – that to him was previously only seen as a shadow projected on a wall.

This brings us to the “theory of forms”. What is justice? Well, many people see justice as equality. As an important characteristic in human life. Plato believed a human’s true form was their “psyche”, otherwise referred to as their soul – justice, is the characteristic that forms this.

Just. What is just? Justice is the ability to be a good person, and follow good morals. It IS possible to become more just, and to do so, Plato believed; all people had to do was educate themselves as philosophers.

Until they look into these philosopher’s views, new views of life that had previously not been considered, they are limiting their selves – essentially living in a cave. Without considering others views, they are limiting their intelligence and only viewing a distorted view of the world such as the three men inside the cave – who could not see the whole picture.

To become more just, all you need to do is educate yourself, believes Plato. The men who came from the cave have no experience of education. The only things they understand is from experience. This makes them ignorant, even though it is not their fault. Unlike the other man, they are not educated on the outside world, in what true forms actually are. They do not know that this world of the cave is not the only one that exists. They need to realise that their true form is actually their soul, and their justice comes from an upbringing of nurturing and caring.

Plato considered many forms of education, music, physical education and mathematics. All of which follow common themes – justice, responsibility and morals.

Plato concludes that everything in life has a form. By educating ourselves as philosophers, we are educating ourselves to identify these true forms. Plato believes the true form of a human is fundamentally their soul – and the only way to protect and nourish it is to act and think justly, which will in turn achieve true happiness.