This past Tuesday was our first experience of a university style workshop and what an experience it was. As we walked into the teaching room, with excited chatter and nervousness (even if we didn’t want to admit it), we had no idea what to expect. After only having a short introduction to the Values: Self, Society and the professions module we knew we would be tackling difficult topics so, when we were spilt into 5 groups I thought we would be participating in some kind of group discussion. The academic who took the module was one we had never met before so we had no preconceptions of her which made the following task all the more realistic.
In each of our groups we were given a sealed envelope containing materials we then had to use to create something that would be useful for a student starting at the University of Dundee. Our envelope contained:
3 sheets of coloured paper
3 felt-tip pens
4 coloured elastic bands
3 Post-it notes
1 binder clip
After throwing a few ideas around the table of what we would’ve found useful a couple of weeks back we decided upon a map of our main university building. Before constructing the product, we were asked to present our ideas to the class. The first group had come up with a great idea about a pin board with the basic essentials and they received much praise from our academic. The second group had a similar idea and also received praise, then it came to us. Our idea wasn’t quite as polished as the two previous groups but when we presented it we got a mere shrug from our academic and then the next few groups received the same.
At this point our team start to take a dislike to our academic but we brush it off and make a start on creating our product. Once made we present to the class again receiving the same responses again which we believe to be a bit unfair but then we start to notice the two groups before us have more materials, how is that fair? We then get our scores and the two groups before us both get 9’s and 10’s but we get a 4. A 4?!?! Our product wasn’t brilliant but we felt we’d certainly done the best we could do with the materials we had and the groups after us also felt the same.
Then it is revealed. Its all a lesson. Our academic is a lovely woman who felt horrible about neglected some of us but the point was still made. Why were some people given more and get more attention than others? We then discussed the importance of being inclusive in the classroom and making sure everyone is treated the same. It was funny how the people who had more materials didn’t notice that the rest had less as why would it even cross their minds that we would have less? It was definitely an eye opening exercise that made us all think about how we treat different people but also how we can use this lesson in our profession of teaching. Education is a right for everyone in this country and that means we will be faced with all kinds of children how have different home circumstances, learning abilities etc. and we have to start thinking now not to have prejudice before we walk into a classroom. What an afternoon!