Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment


Semester 1 of my first year in the teaching journey could be summed up like this: late nights trying to untangle the web of Harvard referencing; dabbling in a fifth language to add to my repertoire (hablo inglés, francés, alemán, holandés y un poco español); trying not to rub in the fact that home-cooked meals are five-star compared to the pot-noodle staple diet of other course mates; enjoying a daily view of the Tay from Dudhope Park on my way to uni; joining too many societies and loving every minute of them (apart from when I squeaked very loudly one evening in Concert Band…why do I play an instrument again?); frantically trying to install What’s App without a phone to arrange group meetings (OK, I really was 10 years behind the times but be proud of me, I bought a phone and just got SnapChat last week!); appreciating the Values module and instigating interesting discussions at my family dinner table and the list could go on. Looking back now, everything has been a learning experience and all led up to that absolutely rewarding moment when a 10-year-old came over to a certain Miss Scott at break, handed her a penguin drawn on the back of an old Maths sheet and commented: “Your lessons are always fun and interesting”! Remembering that puts all the worries and first-time university student anxieties into the right perspective – they were all worth it for placement!



After an input on the importance of relationships and another input which mentioned body language and classroom presence I decided to go on a little CPD (continuing professional development) journey. These are the statements and facts I discovered:

“One of the most effective ways of encouraging brain development in a child is to smile at them.” (John Carnochan)

Nothing in the animal kingdom comes remotely close to the expressiveness of the human face. It is estimated that humans can make and discern 10,000 different facial expressions. Research has also shown that out of the 55 muscles in the human face, 20 are solely used to create various facial expressions.

Amazing, isn’t it? There are beautiful ways of non-verbally communicating which can really affect the children we work with. It has been said that teaching is one quarter preparation and three quarters theatre. When I head back out into placement after Easter I hope to express confidence through my stance, gestures and expression even if inside I’m still a bundle of nerves.


Basis Behind Belief?

In our country there would have been a period in which whatever the Pope said was what should be obeyed. For many centuries, the Ten Commandments were the ground rules. Has there not been a century when the king’s word was the final word (ever heard of Henry the 8th)? A few weeks ago in an input focussing on gender, the lecturer said that whatever the law said was to be followed. In my opinion, there also needs to be an examining of the law before it is obeyed. Who constructed the rules by which we live? Where do our morals come from? Are there such things as ‘intrinsic values’ or are our ‘morals’ imposed on us by the state and culture we live in? Where do the definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ come from? People tell you to speak ‘your truth’. Does that mean whatever seems good to you?

Personally, when I begin to think about these issues, the starting place for answers has to be where we came from; we have to go right back to the beginning of the world. There are two commonly acknowledged possibilities: the theory of evolution and creation. Back in National 5 Biology I was taught that I originated from primordial soup. The Darwinian belief that humans (and all living things) are nothing more than an accident of history, “cosmically inconsequential bundles of stardust, adrift in an infinite and purposeless universe” is a belief that is now “widely embraced within the scientific community” (Raymo, p.160). In the book Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life, Steve Stewart-Williams asks questions about evolution and its link to morality; if morality is a direct product of evolution, why are people constantly arguing about what is right and wrong? Why do we spend so much time teaching our children to be ‘good’ and instilling virtues like generosity in them? Why do we experience inner conflict between what we think is right and what we actually desire to do?

On the other hand, various evolutionists believe that the rules and morals we have are defined by society. However, some people believe society is not reliable because over time it has developed and seems to constantly change its tune (think about how slavery and capital punishment used to be perfectly normal in our country). Maybe in 200 years, humans will look back in horror at things we legislated during 2017? Strange thought.

Those who believe in creation say there is a super-natural God who designed us in His image and left us a moral code and set of guidelines. People who accept this as true also believe that you are ultimately accountable to this Creator-God; this belief is the main influence behind their actions. On the other hand, many people don’t believe there is enough evidence for this God and therefore disregard the principles set out.

I think it is important to discuss social justice and respect. I also consider it crucial for everyone to know why we are doing that and how our other beliefs are (perhaps unconsciously) influencing our actions. I would love to hear your insights on the subject. Please feel free to leave your opinions in the comments section.

I have found two interesting articles on creation and evolution and how they relate to morality. If you would like to read more, choose the case you wish to investigate:

Human nature informs morality, but morality sometimes counteracts human nature. Morality starts from evolved dispositions, but takes on a life of its own outside the individual’s skull.

We are ultimately accountable to our ‘Creator’? 

Can I blame it on the novels…?

When I was younger, my knowledge of racism and discrimination stemmed mainly from my novel reading. I found it disturbing but still exciting to read books like A Light to my Path by Lynn Austin. It was shocking to hear of the discrimination against African-American slaves. It was thrilling to read of their eventual victory and freedom. However, all the novels related to slavery were set in America. This led to my assumption that Britain had never really had much of a problem with racial discrimination. A few years ago I watched the film Amazing Grace which recounts the story of William Wilberforce. The tale of his life work was captivating. However, I did not seem to realise that what was accomplished by him and his supporters did not stop racism altogether; it abolished the British transatlantic slave-trade.

Looking through the materials before our lecture on racism was quite a wake-up call to the scale of the problem in Britain post William Wilberforce. Hearing of the Bristol Bus Boycott and the murder of Stephen Lawrence made me realise that we in Britain are just as biased and discriminatory as any other country. Why had I never been taught about these incidents in my history classes? Where were the novels that also presented the story from Britain’s side? The account of the 1964 general election in which Peter Griffiths used a very racist slogan was shocking. If political correctness hadn’t even made it into politics…where are we to look for a good example? As a teacher it will be my job to ensure that equality is encouraged in the classroom (and maybe I should write a book for teenagers about the problems Britain had with racism and excessive discrimination just to keep them well-informed even in their leisure reading). It will also be important to speak of the mistakes from the past so that we can learn from them in the present and improve ourselves for the future.


William Wilberforce

Bristol Bus Boycott

Stephen Lawrence

Peter Griffiths