The task we were asked to carry out in the first workshop of our ‘Values: Self Society and the Professions’ module, was to create something that would be useful to a new student starting University. We were split into five groups when we arrived. Each group was given an envelope which contained supplies to enable us to carry out this task. The group I was in was given an envelope containing very few items, such as a few rubber bands, post-it notes and pencils. Upon looking around the room, we noticed a couple of the groups had very full envelopes that contained many more useful supplies than ours did. However, we also noticed that a couple of the other groups had even less. At first, we struggled to come up with an idea using the supplies we had been allocated, but knew it could be worse as we could have even less.
It was very clear from the start that not all of the groups were being treated equally. The two groups that had very full envelopes were given more attention and assistance than the others from the workshop leader. We also had to present our idea to the rest of the groups before we were to make it. The response from the workshop leader towards the groups who had been given more supplies was much more positive and they were given more praise and encouragement than the groups who had less. Once we had finished our designs, we were all scored out of 10. The groups with the most supplies were given much higher scores, whereas the groups with less supplies were given lower scores. This was frustrating as, one of the members of another group pointed out, we had to work much harder to come up with an idea. As we had very little supplies, we had to be much more creative. Because of this, we believed we should have received higher scores as, although our finished product was not as colourful and didn’t look as good as the others, we had worked hard to produce something useful with our limited supplies.
We were asked how this activity made us feel. The three groups which hadn’t received enough supplies and had gotten poor scores all said that it made them feel bad about themselves. It made us feel like we weren’t as good as the other groups and we felt disappointed in ourselves, even though we had tried our best. This is when we were told the truth about the workshop and that us not getting treated equally was done on purpose. This was to make us think about how bad it made us feel to not be treated the same as the other groups and how we should never do this while working in the professions we are training to be a part of.
This really made me think about how important it is to treat people equally and with respect. It showed us how bad it can make people feel if they are treated differently from others, especially if the reason for it is through no fault of their own. It also highlights to us that often, we do not realise how much we have and how lucky we are compared to many others. The groups with the most supplies were asked after the exercise if they had thought to give any of their supplies to any of the other groups. Their response was no. This wasn’t because they were being malicious or selfish, but because they were thinking that because they had enough, everyone else must do to. Also, they had plenty of supplies to carry out the task to a very high standard, so why would they need to think about the other groups and what they had if they had enough themselves?
I believe this task was very important and can be related to the three professions that people taking this module are training to be a part of, Education, Social Work and CLD. It shows us that we must treat everyone that we will work with equally and give them the same guidance and support. It highlighted the negative effects it can have on them if we do not, like leading them to believe they are not as good as others or like they cannot achieve as much. Therefore, I believe this workshop was very worthwhile.