Lisa and I had organised to visit a care home with elderly people who have dementia. I found this to be an eye-opening experience as I have personally never met someone with this illness. The patients arrive at 9am and are collected by family members at 3pm. Throughout the day they are able to take part in multiple activities such as playing pool, board games, singing or having their nails painted.
Our first activity of the morning was playing a game of family fortunes with the clients. The staff in this facility use this game as a brain training exercise, this allows for the elderly to think of different answers and remember things that they may have otherwise forgotten.
What I found most surprising was how aware and alert the clients were. On television, people with dementia are often depicted as always being confused and not aware or their surroundings however, the majority of these ladies and gentlemen knew exactly where they were and why. This came as a surprise as I have only ever seen dementia played by actors in movies and television shows and not in real life. I believe that I had built up a picture in my head of dementia which was not factual.
An aspect of this visit that I found challenging was during the exercise class. The clients had each been given a small bean bag and were asked to throw it into the bucket in the centre of the room. This exercise was used to encourage blood flow around their arms. During this activity, one of the clients throw her bean bag with force at me. I did not know how to respond to this action however, I alerted one of the staff members. As a student teacher, the normal reaction to a child doing this would be to punish them by removing golden time or giving them a warning etc. However, you are unable to do this with the elderly and this is why I particularly struggled during this moment.
During the visit, I found the quiz games the most enjoyable part. It was really nice to see the elderly clients challenging themselves and seeing the excitement on their faces when they got the questions correct.
From this community project, I learned that in this particular facility, there is limited involvement of the community. The facility happily welcome volunteers like Lisa and I. However, during our visit we found that we were the only volunteers alongside a girl from the local high school who was helping out once a week.
Whilst out for this community project, there was limited information provided about the local community. The building itself was located in a park called Eastwood Park. The facility is run by two charities; Age Concern Eastwood and Age Concern Eastwood Dementia Project. This facility is a non-profit facility.
Whilst out on this community placement, I found that one of my qualities was the patience I had with the elderly clients. Due to their age and illness, it sometimes took them a while to move about or to communicate however, I ensured that I did not rush them. I definitely have grown a lot of respect for the staff in this care facility as the job does require patience and it keeps them on their toes.
This opportunity allows people to deeper their understanding of mental health and how to respond to various situations or incidents which may occur, so this develops the staffs competencies.
By having extensive understanding of this illness, it allows for the teacher to empathise with students who may have family members who suffer with this illness. Furthermore, these skills and competencies broaden the educators understanding of the spectrum of mental health and to know that meantal health effects people of all ages and not just the elderly. The educator can transfer these skills to pupils in their own class and thus, have patience when working with children with mental health issues.
This particular experience provided me with insight of how to adjust to certain scenarios. This skill of adjustment can be implemented into education and teaching as I will be able to adjust to every individual student. Alongside this, I will be able to adjust and change the classroom setting and teaching practices to suit children with mental health and other additional support needs. This experience has allowed me to feel emotion which these clients may have and has allowed for me to share experiences with them.
Each experience from the sustainable development module, in its own elements, has a connection to society and has an influence and impact on each other such as diversity and biodiversity in life.
The input of diversity was my personal favourite and I found this to be the most engaging. I found it easy to relate to the majority of the discussion within in the lecture and workshops. We began our afternoon session by playing a game where our lecturer asked us to group ourselves by what religion we are; if we have any family members in the LGBT community and if we have any relatives who have differing nationalities from us. This game was played to provide us with a wider perspective of how diverse Scotland actually is just by using 20/30 students. We then moved on to discuss in groups several different aspects of Scottish diversity such as;
% Ethnic minority?
% Born out with Scotland?
% Same sex marriages?
% registered disabled?
%s of religions?
How many different languages do you think are spoken?
Children having awareness, knowledge and understanding of diversity in Scotland is deeply embedded throughout the Curriculum for Excellence;
“Curriculumfor Excellence challenges schools and communities to develop children and young people as responsible citizens who show respect for others; who understand different beliefs and cultures; and who are developing informed, ethical viewsof complex issues. Children and young people need to know why discriminationis unacceptable and how to challenge it. They need to understand the importance of celebrating diversity and promoting equality.”
(Scottish Government, 2012a)
We discussed the use of native languages and its impact on dialogue. One example provided was that of the Scottish word ‘dreich”, when you translate that to the word ‘wet’ it loses its meaning. You can describe the rain as being ‘smurry’ or ‘drizzly’ however, these all have slightly different meanings. In some contexts, the word dreich may be the only way to describe that particular rainfall. In schools, teachers are encouraged to preserve the Scottish language. Building the curriculum 3 states, “throughout (the) curriculum it is expected there will be an emphasis on Scottish contexts, Scottish cultures and Scotland’s history and place in the world.” (Scottish Government, 2008b). This can be implemented in several different ways, one particular example may be through the implementation of books written in the Scottish language. There has been a reprint of the book ‘The Gruffalo’ to fit the Scottish language and this allows for children to gain a deeper appreciation of their native language and also helps to preserve it. By introducing the Scots language from a young age, the children gain a deeper appreciation of the language as they get older (Education Scotland, 2017).
We proceeded to discuss global diversity. Globally, it is evident that there is more variety of diversity, cities tend to be more diverse than rural areas and racial spreads are different. For example, America has a significant amount of races and nationalities represented in comparison to Russia. To a certain extent, this allows us to understand the differing views and opinions of each of these countries. In order to protect minority groups, the United Nations introduced the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Within this document there are 30 articles however, these articles are not legally binding. It can be said that if we respect the diversity of other cultures, we are less likely to accept poverty and other controversial issues worldwide. Arguably, most conflicts that have occurred throughout history are often a result of people not valuing, recognising or be willing to understand someone else’s beliefs or culture.
It is vital that teachers educate their pupils about the importance of diversity alongside following these standards for themselves. The General Teaching Council for Scotland have set out values and personal commitment standards that every teacher should follow. The two standards of social justice and integrity relate directly towards what we have been learning about throughout this input. For social justice the standards state that teachers should be:
Embracing locally and globally the educational and social values of sustainability, equality and justice and recognising the rights and responsibilities of future as well as current generations.
Committing to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.
Valuing as well as respecting social, cultural and ecological diversity and promoting the principles and practices of local and global citizenship for all learners.
Furthermore, for integrity the standards state that teachers should be:
Demonstrating openness, honesty, courage and wisdom.
Critically examining personal and professional attitudes and beliefs and challenging assumptions and professional practice.
Critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and practices to effect improvement and, when appropriate, bring about transformative change in practice (GTCS, 2012).
By taking on board these standards, it allows for an educator to evaluate their teaching practices, and recognise that they may need to put themselves in another persons shoes to understand their situation. This may be linked with our discussion of privilege, due to some educators privileges, they may struggle to understand and empathise with other peoples positions. However, through critically examining your own practices it can allow for teachers to value their pupils for who they are.
The Curriculum for Excellence boasts an abundance of diversity through its experiences and outcomes. There are eight outcomes which relate towards diversity several of these include;
I can gather and use information about forms of discrimination against people in societies and consider the impact this has on people’s lives SOC 2-16b
I can discuss issues of the diversity of cultures, values and customs in our society SOC 2-16c
By comparing the lifestyle and culture of citizens in another country with those of Scotland, I can discuss the similarities and differences SOC 2-19a (Scottish Government, 2018c)
Furthermore, by having respect for human diversity, this implies that children will also have respect for biodiversity and the world surrounding them. In order for us as student teachers to gain a deeper appreciation of biodiversity, workers from the RSPB came in to the university to provide us with lesson ideas. The full session was outdoors and our warm up exercise was that of a game called prey and predator. Four students were chosen to be predators and the remainder had to be the prey. In this instance, the predator was the golden eagle and the prey was pigeons. The predators then chased the prey until they caught them. This was a fun exercise which I will definitely use as a warm up to teaching about biodiversity. Afterwards, three separate stations were set up;
Pond Dip – In this station, water from the pond was put into a bucket and we were provided with an information sheet informing us of different mini beasts that we might be able to identify. We used magnifying glasses and we managed to find a freshwater shrimp
Body/Tree Measurements – In this station, we used a pen and our eyes to make estimates of the height of people and trees. The student uses there eye to make the object the same length of the pen, they then move their hand to turn the pen horizontal. Once the pen is horizontal, they get the two students to stand the length of the pen, the distance between the two students is a estimated height of what the object is. Everytime we tried this experiment it worked out correctly as we managed to work out the height of myself and three other students.
Outdoor Art – This station focused on using materials you can find outdoors to create pieces of art. My group and I were asked to collect sticks and create something Christmassy. As we found large sticks, we used these as antlers and decided to create rudolf.
I look forward to implementing these activities within my own practices, it made outdoor learning extremely fun and I believe school children will particularly enjoy it.
For my sustainable development module, I was asked to find evidence of a garden area, recycling bins and birds boxes etcetera. The following pictures are evidence of these.
Furthermore, I was asked to consider the play space for the children and it’s suitability. From pictures (see below), it is evident that this schools playground is relatively small however, due to the small collective of pupils within the school, this playground is suitable for play. Furthermore, they also have a climbing frame for the children to play on.
Alongside these two tasks, we also asked to find a map of the school grounds.
Lastly, we were asked to have discussion with the children about sustainable education. From the first day, it was evident that the children were aware of sustainability, as I was putting a piece of paper into the ordinary bin and they seemed really concerned as they have specific recycling bins for plastic and paper. Furthermore, another lesson about sustainability which the children and I enjoyed with regard to sustainability was where they were shown the video for Icelands banned christmas advert. This advert was banned as it was deemed to be “too political”. The video centres around a orangutang who is messing a little girls room up and she asks him why, he responds by saying that humans are ruining his habitat in order to create palm oil. After being shown this advert, they were asked to create newspaper articles where in which they considered the video and voiced their own opinions on the matter.
Education Scotland (2017) Scots Language in Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available from: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/Documents/ScotsLanguageinCfEAug17.pdf [Accessed: 26 November 2018].
General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland [Online] Available from: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/standards-for-registration-1212.pdf [Accessed: 28 November 2018].
Scottish Government (2012a) Promoting Diversity and Equality: Developing Responsible Citizens for the 21st Century. [Online] Available: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/Promoting_DE080313_tcm4-747988.pdf [Accessed: 26 November 2018].
Scottish Government (2008b) Building the curriculum 3 [Online] Available from: https://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/btc3.pdf [Accessed: 26 November 2018].
Scottish Government (2018c) Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available from: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf