During our lecture today we spoke about racism, how attitudes have improved over time but the fact there is still a very long way to go for everyone in this world to be treated equally. I am always filled with horror and shame when I am reading about the treatment of black people throughout the ages and indeed up to the present day. It is hard to believe that after the brutal murder of the innocent Emmet Brown in 1955, the ‘all white male’ jury declared the perpetrators innocent although the evidence was there to prove they were guilty with Emmets uncle bravely pointing them out in court. You cannot begin to imagine such atrocities/racism and injustice being withheld in a court of law to this day. Yet in 1993 there was the grossly racist handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder where his mother quoted the handling of the investigation ‘‘like white masters during slavery.’ The subsequent ‘Macpherson Report’ followed leading to Statutory processes being put in place to pursue Race Equality. However, in 2016 ‘non violent’ Alton Sterling was shot dead by police in Louisiana and Keith Scott in Charlotte, USA, police stating he was armed but CTV footage not supportive of this. His family are still fighting for justice.
Reading these reports and listening to Clint Smith and the rapper/poet Akala gives me a better insight into just how Ethnocentrism and The theory of Critical Race (where racism is an everyday norm for people of colour) still play a huge part of peoples lives. After listening to Clint it is obvious so many Black people/children are not afforded the innocent childhood but live under ‘a blanket of advice’ this makes me reflect on my childhood where, apart from teaching me what my parents thought was right from wrong, I certainly didn’t have to worry how I carried myself or acted around my friends. Akala talks about everyday racism stating that through the portrayal and stereotyping of black people he even wondered why a young guy of the same origin as himself was paying a large some of money into a bank. He asked himself what this guy did for a living and automatically the notion of drugs came to mind. When I think about the media headlines we have seen today and the racial comments from Anton Du Beke, Ron Atkinson and Paul Gascoigne my views are changing swiftly. I remember 1970’s blatant racism in such shows as ‘Love thy Neighbour’ or ‘Rising Damp’ , they openly passed off racism as acceptable humour, approved back then by the BBC! Growing up in that era racism wasn’t just tolerated but seemingly justifiable. Has it been so ingrained in society throughout the years that still people think it is okay to show implicit bias.
I thought humanity had progressed more than we have, I felt things were getting better, but if millions of people believe there are rules governing how to live your life due to the colour of your skin, where families are fearful for their childrens’ lives and only 8% of Black people in the US feel there has been sufficient changes to lead to racial equality then obviously they are right, we are only scratching the surface.
Sitting down in our groups I was feeling a nervous enthusiasm for what lay ahead. In our groups we were to devise a resource that any of us would have found useful from day one at University. Each group were given an envelope with various stationery items with which to create their resource. Not long into this task we noticed that other groups appeared to have less items than us and others a vast selection. We wondered whether this was a mistake, did the teacher need to know, why were we given less than others? I felt that this was unfair! During the task the teacher appeared to favour 2 groups over others and I felt instantly as if we, as a group, were not doing a good job. At the end of the task the two ‘favoured’ groups were given excellent marks, ours an average mark and others a very poor score with comments reflective of this. I was embarrassed by this and felt that the lowest scoring groups were treated unfairly despite being at a disadvantage to others. It made our group feel less than enthusiastic and low in spirits.
However, we soon realised that this was part of our lesson . We were to think about bringing equality and equity to our environment and how, without this, there was a feeling of social injustice, lack of integrity, trust and respect and professional commitment as covered in the Standards for Registration. Looking back, the practical nature of this lesson gave a first hand experience of being in a deprived situation.
I realised how important it is for everyone to be treated equally and to be given the same levels of enthusiasm and commitment. For the same resources to be made available to every child and indeed, more so for those that may need extra help through SEN or who may be, for some reason, further behind in their studies. Our Tutor appeared to have a biased professional attitude to those at a distinct advantage , when that happened I was disheartened, making me realise that I would never want to make any individual feel like that. It got me thinking about, when I eventually go into a classroom, how I will try to motivate and inspire others taking all individual needs into concern. On reflection I can see that not every child will come into a classroom setting feeling like they are on the same level of the playing field as not everyone’s experiences of life are the same. Our aim as Teachers is to work towards narrowing this gap, for if we do not, a consequence of this will definitely be hindering the well being and learning journey of all our pupils and becoming part of the problem not the solution.
After leaving school with grades for University but no guidance in that direction, I found myself wandering aimlessly from one form of employment to another. Bank worker, assistant paralegal, temp, lab technician to name but a few! Eventually I entered into the care field running a Homeless Unit and working in a locked Residential Childrens Home before finding myself helping to teach Children with Special Needs in a primary school. I knew from working within the Homeless Unit that my future was in helping people get the most they could out of life and to learn to help themselves. This was definitely my forte, as they say, especially aiding those that were vulnerable or had special educational needs.
Through working with pupils with behavioural issues, autism, muscular dystrophy, profound and severe complex needs I felt compelled to understand more about child behaviour, how I can provide the greatest care for each individual, what measures can I put in place to support each child, build their confidence and give them the best possible educational experience throughout their school lives.
Often you hear people outside the school gates casually write a child off commenting, “what hope have they got?” Well I want to be that hope. I have witnessed many pupils believe from the word go that they “can’t do it!”, many of whom have had poor early life experiences. I want to help turn that around. I believe that every child has a limitless potential, some just need more guidance than others, extra help, a confidence boost and care. In order for me to do this justice, I know I have to become a primary teacher using the years of experience I have gained so far. To fully understand how children learn and develop, to pass on knowledge, practical skills and to show enthusiasm for them as an individual and for their learning journey. I want to plan, deliver and create an enjoyable learning environment. I hope through teaching I can help my pupils grow into believing that the world really is their oyster and they can be anything they want to be. This is why I want to teach.