” All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from common stock. they are born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity”
Throughout the 18 years that I have lived, the concept of race and gender has always been something I have found myself thinking about. As a mixed race female, the issues of racism and sexism have always been important to me. However on Tuesdays lecture I learnt that not only am I extremely lucky that I have been born into a more accepting society than that of the 1950s and 60s, I also have it very easy. We were told the story of Emmet Till, a 14 year old boy who was beaten and killed by the owner of a cotton field, after being accused of flirting with the owners wife. The pictures we were shown of Emmet really hit hard. A photo of his face after it was beaten. A much worse photo of his mother crying over his dead body. What made of all of it worse? The fact that the story had been fabricated by the cotton field owners wife. We then discussed the Jim Crow Laws which separated the white people from the coloured in places like cafes, hairdressers and even schools. It really hit me hard to think of how it must have felt for non-white people seeing the terrible signs that stated “white only”. A sign I saw that really angered me stated “No Dogs, No Negros, No Mexicans”. I felt that this really dehumanised them and must have made them feel so inferior. We looked at something called the Critical Race Theory which argues that racism is the everyday norm for ‘people of colour’. It argues that racism is not exceptional but embedded within legal systems others social institutions, which is why it is so persistent. As someone who lived in a small town in Ayrshire for the majority of my life, I experienced everyday racism as being non-white was very unusual in Ayr. For me to think of how I feel when I experience racism and compare it to the much worse racism that black people experienced in the 1950s and 60s, the way they must have felt unimaginable.
For The second half of the lecture we looked at sexism and the pressures women face in todays society. We were shown a video made by Always called ‘Like A Girl’. This showed people of all ages being asked to do something like a girl. The older people would do the action in a pathetic and weak way, whereas the younger girls would do the action in the best way they could. A young girl was asked “what does it mean to run like a girl?” She replied confidently “It means run as fast as you can”. This shows that the gender roles are something that is implanted into us by society and those who are still very young have not been affected by this. As a teacher I would want to nurture this quality in young children and try my best to keep them informed of more positive gender roles.
This was a very hard-hitting, emotionally provoking lecture that I feel is very important for everyone to hear as it shows the very important issues that we face every day in society.
Earlier in the week i attended a workshop where we were split into 4 groups. We were all provided with envelopes containing supplies that we were to use in order to make an ‘essential university item’. Immediately it was noticed by our group (Group 4) that groups 1 and 2 had far more resources than groups 3 and 4. Armed with just one sheet of paper, a pen, a paper clip, 2 post-it notes, some rubber bands and bluetac we decided to make a pencil case. Whilst the groups were discussing how the products would be made the teacher walked round the room observing our work and making an occasional comment. It was noticed by our group that we only received negative feedback. “The pencil case is ugly” being the most memorable. we also were given many disapproving looks which made us feel uncomfortable and reduced our motivation to complete the task. When giving our talk to the class the teacher paced back and forth and did not give us his attention, however when groups 1 and 2 were speaking they were given his undivided attention and even got a thumbs up! We were then given our grade where we placed bottom of the class with a 2/10.
During this task we realised that the attitude a teacher has towards a pupil can have an effect on the pupils ability to complete a task and can also impact how a pupil perceives their ability to complete a task. If a teacher has a positive attitude towards a pupil they are more likely to want to learn and in turn more likely to achieve. It also showed us that pupils that do not have as many resources as others will find it harder to complete tasks that others. This may be because they do not have enough resources to complete the task properly or they believe that because they do not have as many resources as others that there is no point in completing the task as others will have did it better than them.
When did I decide I wanted to become a teacher?
I volunteered weekly at a primary school in an area of deprivation. Part of this involved working with some vulnerable refugee children. As I attended Arabic school on weekends for nine years, I was taught to speak, read and write in Arabic. This helped me to communicate clearly with the refugees which gave them confidence and someone to turn to if need be. Over time I have developed a trusting relationship between myself and the children where I am able to help them with any difficulties they find themselves facing at school. As well as spending a great deal of time with the Syrian children, I was given the task of connecting with a particularly difficult pupil. Over time, the trust and respect between the pupil and I blossomed, and a great improvement to his work and mood was noticed. The small difference I made to someone proved to me that teaching was a career where I could make a difference to the young minds of tomorrow. I saw how teachers are not always just the man or woman standing at the whiteboard talking about maths. Teachers can be someone a child looks up to for care and support. After seeing a trusting relationship build between myself and the children and how it could make a positive difference in their learning experience , I decided that teaching was the career I wanted to pursue.