On Tuesdays values seminar, we were split into 5 groups and given a task to come up with, and then create, something that we thought would help a new student starting university. Each group was given a packet of stationary and arts and crafts supplies to help make and present their idea. My groups packet contained various coloured paper, pens and post-its, as well as Sellotape, scissors, paper clips, rubber bands, blue tack and pencils. We initially struggled with understanding the tasks requests but after receiving plenty of support and help from the lecturer, we decided to use some of our materials to make a colour co-ordinated personalised timetable. We felt this would help stop the difficulty of trying to spot your personal classes in a mass of module codes and make the confusion of varying weeks, when only certain groups are needed, simpler.
After presenting our idea to the others I noticed that certain group weren’t treated how we were. We received praise for our idea while others were almost passed over quickly with little attention or else were interrogated by the lecturer, as if she didn’t believe their idea was possible or any good. After listening to one group in particular, I realised what little materials they were given. I didn’t think anything of it, just that it was part of the tasks challenge to be resourceful with what you had.
While making our colourful timetables the amount of support we received from the lecturer continued, to the stage that her caring check-ups became slightly annoying to us. I noticed when presenting our final idea that the same attention and attitude was given to certain groups who were again not treated as well as we were. At this point I fully believed the lecturer had complete dislike for either them or their product.
The final scoring was when I eventually realised there had to be something wrong. Our group was given an 8 out of 10, the second highest score in the class. This was a shock to us all, as although we were happy with our achievement we felt our idea was the simplest, easily done and required much support from the lecturer. However, the group, who I’d originally noticed had very little materials, only received a 2. Yet they had been more inventive with the use of their minimal supplies and would have taken much more effort and imagination to achieve their final product, unlike ours, which had basically been spoon fed to us. After all the confusion and disappointment with scorings we realised that those groups who received less materials were scored lower and given less attention than those of us with more.
The lecturer finished by asking how we could relate the task to society. That’s when I finally understood the purpose of this challenge. It wasn’t to build on our team-working skills or about getting to know new people, it was about showing us some of the harsh realities in society today.
Not everyone today is treated fairly and seen as equals, as the task showed, those who have more in society, for example money, are treated better or seen as more important and worthy of peoples time and attention. As being part of one of the better off groups it also made me realise how blind we can be to those needing help. Our group used very little of our materials given and yet even though I knew one group had basically nothing, it didn’t occur to me to offer any of our unused supplies to help. Instead I let them struggle, knowing the extra amount of effort they would have to put in to finish with a similar final product to ours. This task also made me realise how unappreciative we can be at times. At the end of the task, while listening to the other groups complain about the lack of attention and support they received, I thought about how, at times, our group began to find the lecturers caring annoying.
I feel this task has made me realise how easily we can become unaware of people and their situations around us. It’s taught me, when teaching, just how observant you need to be in order to provide the right amount of support and guidance to each individual child.