On Tuesday the 19th September 2017, our group of MA1 Education participated in our first values workshop which was based upon the idea of resource allocation. As a group we were divided into 5 smaller groups around the classroom, each group was then given an envelope of resources which we would have to use to create a ‘student beginner pack’, in other words a kit or pack with the intention of supporting new students starting University. Although, before giving us these envelopes of resources, our lecturer asked and advised each group to discuss their ideas in order to create a well thought out, smart and successful ‘student beginner pack’. After we had discussed our ideas for our ‘student beginner pack’, the lecturer asked each group to feedback on what they had been discussing and he was very encouraging of the ideas, especially of my group and one other.
Once we were able to open our envelopes my group (group 2) found that we had a variety of different resources, including coloured pens and pencils, coloured paper, paper clips, sticky notes, scissors and more. Thus, we decided to individually create something for the pack since we had the resources to do so, for example I designed an information sheet for how to find, use and clean the flat; this included tips such as how to turn the oven on, where to find the hoover and also providing the idea of a cleaning rota. Others in my group designed train and bus timetables, maps for certain buildings and the overall campus, quick and easy cooking recipes, personalised University timetables, different vouchers to get offers in particular shops and an event calendar for the union. My group wanted to ensure that we covered both the academical and social aspects of University life in order for new students not to have any major concerns when starting. It is important to note that throughout the task, our lecturer was very encouraging and helpful, he was even offering biscuits to our group.
However, it was only when each group started to present their ideas when my group realised that our group had been given many more resources compared to groups 4 & 5 as they had only been given the envelope, one sticky note and a pen; although we weren’t completely certain to why this was. Also, throughout the presentations his encouragement did not stop. He spent time giving more encouragement to some groups more than others; he seemed to be more interested in groups 1 & 2 and became less interested in groups 3, 4&5 as the presenting went on. To emphasise our lecturer’s disinterest, he then forgot about the last group and their presentation which was rather dissatisfying for them.
Moreover, every group soon discovered that our lecturer’s disinterest in certain groups and his interest in others was all but a performance to show that in this profession, teachers will encounter pupils from many different cultures and backgrounds who may not have the same resources as other children. Although, that is a teacher’s job to teach and encourage every child to flourish and not let limiting resources stop them from reaching their full academic potential. Our lecturer further emphasised that the children we will encounter in this profession who are more disadvantaged must be given the same opportunity, regardless of their background and must be encouraged and to make the most of what they have without any judgement or limitation. After our lecturer discussed the meaning of his input, he asked the groups if we had noticed his attitudes to the five groups and the differences in each of the groups’ resources. Our group failed to acknowledge what was happening until we were told afterwards, although the more disadvantaged groups explained that they knew what was happening due to the offering of biscuits, less resources and the overall projected attitude to their group. Our lecturer finally explained that groups 1 & 2 failed to acknowledge what was happening was because in society people who are successful and in more advantaged positions in life tend to ignore and give no thought to those who are more disadvantaged; purely because they are only focusing on their goals. This is exactly what happened in our groups’ work, we were focusing on finishing something to a good standard level whilst not thinking about the groups beside ours.
Overall, I thought that this workshop was an effective way to portray to the MA1 group the hierarchy of society, in that not everyone we meet will be from the same background. Although, I have learnt and recognised through this workshop that it is not what we are given, it is how we use what we are given to be successful. Therefore, this information can help me to acknowledge the differences in children’s backgrounds and cultures from a more professional perspective.