Learning in School is Useless?

“90% of what we teach in school is a waste of time… It just doesn’t matter.”

This is a statement that I have been asked to reflect on. In truth, it is a subject that has sparked a lot of thinking in my time since leaving school. I think there is some level of truth to it, however, realise it differs per person.

Primary school is one of the exceptions to this rule. I am of the belief that primary education is the foundation for everything else that we learn on the journey that is life. This initial foundation is the epicentre for the tools we use to pick up additional knowledge as well as being the secondary agent of socialisation — outside of the family environment — where every young person learns how to become a member of society. It is because of this that I think that it would be simply ludicrous to suggest that only one-tenth of learning in primary school is relevant.

The main strength of my thinking is what is taught in secondary education. Although I don’t necessarily agree that ninety percent of learning is a waste of time, I believe the education system is not perfect for every attendee. In a world that has more jobs and professions than ever before, not all of them are rooted in education. I have met many individuals who did not find happiness or satisfaction whilst attending school, often reflected in their grades upon leaving. However, a significantly high level of leavers from my year who did leave before beginning S5 landed on their feet when entering employment and have since got great standings in the years following. This shocked me in those days as I bought into the ‘you’re a delinquent if you don’t leave school with highers‘ mindset.

Alas, this brings me to my current train of thought. What good is forcing modern studies on someone who wants to become a barber when they are older? Why teach drama to a kid who dreams of being an artist? Outside of STEM subjects, I believe the essentiality of school subjects to a learner is subjective. What may be 90% waste of time to one person differs from the teaching I received as knowledge whilst I teach generations to come. Even though I greatly value what I learnt whilst at school, who am I to tell others how they feel on the subject? However, I do strongly believe that the skills we learn within the primary school environment very much is the basis for how we live life as we age. This is due both to being the base level of understanding as well as the vital hidden curriculum.

IB Inquiry-based Learning Task

Tuning In

  • The contexts of inquiry-based learning (IBL) is set within: school, the outside world, university.


  • Allows for a greater understanding of what the student is learning and why
  • Can be utilised in every class regardless of subject and still remain beneficial
  • Students share the responsibility of their learning
  • Allows for students to develop their communicative skills with their peers and learn more through their discussions
  • Gives students the skills to ask questions that aid their understanding


  • Teachers are not as prominent in an IBL classroom as the emphasis is more on student learning
  • Not all students are confident within themselves to ask the questions that they raising in their minds
  • Students who don’t have a good knowledge base of a particular subject may struggle to ask questions


A IBL environment is not something that I have much experience in. During my years at school, I did not have the opportunity to find myself present in a class that was focused on this approach.


Having learned about IBL during my early experiences with the module, I regret not having a chance to be a part of this approach to learning. This is because I always have a natural curiosity towards the information that I am learning and usually found — and still do to lecturers at uni to this day — myself staying behind after classes to ask questions to help my understanding of topics without feeling like I am hijacking a lesson or taking up too much time.

I am excited at the thought of being present in an IBL classroom as I believe it is a very interesting prospect and look forward to experiencing this change of pace from what I have before. Having a class catered to students’ own inquiring has the potential to fill the gaps of what I had previously felt was present in the traditional sense of teaching and look forward to having the privilege of attending.

Professional Practice Experiences

Although I did not see an active IBL class in action, I saw aspects of this from my own lessons. It must be noted that I was responsible for a P4 class, therefore their learning was not of the utmost level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. However, when delivering a class on their new topic, based on Australia, I found that their curiosity levels were very high and that they asked a lot of questions based on their interest. We had a lot of discussions before tasks and when it came time for marking, I found that a lot of pupils in the class took on the ideas of their peers having obviously been inspired from them.


Finding Out

  • What happens when a class do not engage in discussion?
  • What happens when the teacher is not sure of the answer to a question?
  • Are young children capable of this kind of thinking?
  • Can a teacher turn all their classes into an IBL class?
  • Can a teacher reject a proposal from their students?


Sorting Out

Helping your Pupils to Think for Themselves – Wilson, J. and Murdoch, K.

Question: Are young children capable of this kind of thinking?

Sentence: “When working with young pupils, it is particularly important to locate [making their thinking ‘visible] teaching withi the context of pupils’ everyday experiences. For example, an argument in the playground can be sorted out using de Bono’s hates (‘We need to put on our red hat to think about how we are feeling…’) and responses to picture storybooks can be deliberately geared around thinking strategies (‘Let’s try and be empathic thinkers – what do you think the ugly sisters would be thinking right now?’)

Phrase: “illustrate their capacity”

Word: “observations”


Making Conclusions

  • Why isn’t IBL more prominent in classes?
  • Why are pupils asking relevant questions sometimes downplayed?


Taking Action

Having learned what I have so far about IBL, I am very curious to utilise in my future classrooms. Additionally, I am very excited at the prospect of rolling it out in a younger class having previously been turned off at the idea of using it with an age range that I had been dismissive of before. Having read the abstract above, I now see the benefit of doing so. I was fortunate to see how all ages of school learners have so much potential for learning and how even at that young age, they still have a very curious mind.


IB1 Reflection

I used to think… that primary school-level kids were oblivious to a lot of the world around them. I associate this due to the memory of myself at that age and how I was essentially in my own little world with only things I was concerned with

Now I think… that children at that age vary on a large scale in that regard. Now that social media and the internet plays a much larger role in everyday life, especially the exposure children have to that now, they are much more aware of viral trends and other issues. I also think that children of that age are a lot more mentally-ahead of what children were when I was growing up and that I won’t be as eager to dismiss this in future.

IB Reflective Task IV

Since undergoing the tasks from the PowerPoint, I have learned a lot about the IB, in terms of both its origin and similarities to our own curriculum and ideology in Scotland. It is clear to see that a lot of the core values that the CfE has incorporated has been, at the least, inspired by the ideas that IB implemented back in the 1960s. This is a testament to the quality of teaching that IB presented, with it still be incredibly relevant over fifty years later. However, the CfE is not a carbon copy of IB and this can be seen in the differences between CfE and the IB’s Primary Years Programme (PYP). This post will reflect on the similarities and differences between the two.


The abundantly clear objective that immediately jumps out between both programmes is their focus on student’s learning and right to have a say on decisions that affect them. A holistic approach is evident throughout. This outlook is an essential part of the schooling process as learners are the quintessential purpose of school so their interests are paramount to every decision that is made, opposed to the previous approach that essentially existed to tick boxes on the school and curriculum’s behalf.

Additionally, the PYP and CfE are similar because they both encourage transdisciplinary learning so that students have aspects of relevant skills for them to take in the wider world, both in real-time and upon leaving school. This type of education can be seen in the CfE when teaching STEM subjects that encourage outside-of-school scenarios and learning. This is incredibly beneficial as it meets the principal ‘relevance‘ of CfE as it is a skill that transcends being exclusive to school learning.

Another similarity that IB and CfE share is their concentration on making the school environment a positive one through a shared ethos and community, another asset of their education that can translate to the outside society. Learning how to conduct yourself in school through your behaviour and interactions is a vital aspect of day-to-day learning and this is evidently recognised by both institutions. From my own experience, having a shared ethos within the school is incredibly beneficial to the pupils as they usually have a say on the contents of what is included in it, thus not only does this add responsibility to their actions but also pride as they realise their voice is heard and that they are accounted for.


However, as mentioned above, the CfE is not a direct copy of the PYP programme. From the videos provided from the PowerPoint, it is noticeable that whilst the IB focuses a lot on a wide array of results, the CfE has specific experiences and outcomes that the learning should be catered towards so that the subject has a reason for being taught. I believe this approach is better suited to Scottish schools as it allows for a certain level of learning to be met and so that lessons can have a reference of learning so that every class is relevant to the curriculum. Meanwhile. the PYP is better suited to individual achievement and how their learning improves the student’s overall education opposed to building on a specific subject’s foundation and meeting objectives. PYP appears to swear more towards linking all of the subjects together to have a base level of learning that is interconnected, more evidence of the transdisciplinary learning, rather than just being identified as a particular subject.



IB Reflective Task III

When the International Baccalaureate formed in the 1960s, it revolutionised a lot of the teaching styles that were presented in school. Not settling with the traditional make-up of the educational system to that point, it put across a new ‘Progressive’ brand of the curriculum that is still the foundation of teaching till this day. This style of forward-thinking aligns with a lot of what the CfE offers in Scotland.

It is evident that the IB was the catalyst for an increase in the importance of education in the decades that followed such a pivotal moment in human history at the conclusion of the second world war, or at least with the focus on learner education. As seen through the new focus of education trends, this was echoed within society with a changing reflection of meritocracy.

An example of these comparisons is the IB trend of ‘student choice’. This is similar to CfE’s principle of ‘personalisation and choice’ as both put large importance on students being able to choose their own journey through their schooling journey so that they can arrive at the outcome that they desire upon leaving. This is of particular importance as the previous system did not cater to branching out of a concrete curriculum and thus did not offer a varied programme for students to flourish at their desired outcome. This vague curriculum arguably extinguished unique talents and therefore killed passions that should be celebrated in school before they had even started. Additionally, giving the teacher a forum to receive feedback from their students increases their pool for delivering classes as it lets them fine-tune their lessons to increase retention of information and engagement, as well as getting the message across that pupil feedback is respected within the learning environment. Classes are a two-way system that depends on a working relationship between teacher and student so this mutual principle is very much at the heart of a progressive curriculum.

Another example of how these two systems share progressive traits is the importance of both being focused on learners. IB mentions ‘child-centred’ education, similar to CfE’s holistic approach. It is needless to say that school exists with the intention to get learners ready for the outside world. This is why their education and safety is indispensable and therefore the biggest focus to both IB and CfE-centred schools. This is evident through the experiences and outcomes that are the benchmark for pupils’ learning in Scotland so that all students have the same foundation of knowledge and allowing the teacher to know what the natural progression of teaching should be.

In conclusion, I believe it is very clear that the Curriculum for Excellence was designed with a lot of the IB’s educational trends in mind. Education should forever be about getting the correct information across to students. By working with them and allowing them to be the navigator to their own learning, they can explore their passions within the education system so that they can reach the destination that they desire to arrive at upon leaving school, be it employment or higher education.

IB Reflective Task II

*please note, video was deleted when I tried to access [as of 03/09/2019]*

It is fair to make comparisons between the IB’s learner profile attributes and CfE’s four capacities for learning. Both are there to build a foundation for learners to contribute to society upon leaving school and to help improve the communities that they find themselves in, both domestically and internationally. With this consideration and co-operation, society can move forward to attain new heights, therefore the utilisation of these developments is vital to our curriculum.

The immediate similarity that struck me was present in CfE’s details for ‘responsible citizens‘. This can be linked to many of the IB’s attributes — such as thinkersopen-minded and reflective — and puts emphasis on learners emphasising with outside parties that differ from their own thinking. This train of thought is an important aspect of everyday life that calls for people from different backgrounds and cultures to work together and reach a common goal. Additionally, the call for responsible citizens has never been larger as the world continues to bridge previous gaps through the advancement of technology and will only become more common in years to come. Therefore, it is imperative that this line of understanding is instilled in the minds of students so humanity can continue to grow off the back of their learning in the near future.

Another similarity between the two curriculums is the learner profile attribute of communicators with the capacity of effective contributor. Similar to the previous paragraph, communication is key to all aspects of life, irrespective of context. For society to run successfully, it is essential for the population to be on the same page as one another. As such, it important to teach pupils to express themselves in a way that allows them to be critical thinkers and take control of situations whilst accounting for the opinions of others. This brand of ‘outside of the box thinking’ also builds self-resilience and allows for individuals to bounce back from difficult situations and use the circumstances to learn in future. From my own experience, I learned that children have an initial struggle to overcome the realisation that they made a mistake and believe that they have failed, per-se, without recognising that failure is the key to success. I took pride in seeing the push that my mentor and the school put on normalising the act of making mistakes and believe this is reflected in the similarities between IB and CfE’s thinking.

Lastly, CfE’s capacity for successful learners is, naturally, a key component for all of education. Therefore, it exhibits the vast majority of learner profiles. Students must have a desire to learn to absorb knowledge. By using their interests and abilities to teach the curriculum to them, pupils are more likely to continue their learning outwith the school grounds and take an interest in the subjects that they are learning in their own time. This aligns with inquirers that helps usher in passion, motivation and enthusiasm for their own education.


It is worth noting that there are differences between the two approaches, however. The most glaring of which is that the Curriculum for Excellence is a lot more centred on the four capacities affecting Scotland than the rest of the world, at least initially. This is reflected under responsible citizens, calling for a bigger emphasis on Scotland’s place in the world and what we contribute to it, rather than the bigger picture being the international spectrum; differing from the IB’s approach of impacting local, national and international communities.

IB Reflective Task I

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a foundation that has a lot of similarities with Scotland’s own Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) programme when it comes to the education of young learners. My most immediate take from their similarities is the importance that it places on readying students for life beyond school through their learnings, as well as planting the seed for growing their curiosity for how and why things are done the way they are. However, there is much more to this relationship than this link. Additional resemblances appear on the subject of general teachings, the relationship between student and teacher and the importance of the student’s education being the focal point of lessons.

As noted above, both the IB and CfE put high importance on creating an atmosphere where the student is curious about their learning and asking questions to improve their own understanding of what they are learning. This kind of teaching aligns with Bloom’s Taxonomy that puts emphasis on the child’s own cognitive abilities so that they can see the purpose of what they are doing and make connections with how it alters their everyday life. In regards to CfE, this is of large importance when factoring in one of the pillars of learning: Relevance. For a child to realise just how important what they are learning is to their understanding of the world, it proves a great hurdle for them to overcome when utilising outside of school, too.

An example from my own experience in school during placement that reflected this was when I was scheduled to teach the class topic of Australia. I took an approach during a particular lesson, based on Australian wildlife, by asking open questions to the classroom about why they thought the animals in Australia differed to those that we found at home in Scotland. Although I had used Bloom’s Taxonomy before, it was never in the manner of open-based questions and instantly realised why it is such a positive approach to teaching. The class essentially turned into an open forum for discussion without ever derailing the lesson or moving off-topic. The children were quite literally teaching themselves on the differences through their discussions and I found that most of the class wanted to offer their own perspective on the subject.

The Legitimacy of Literacy

Ever since starting this blog on GLOW, I have been fortunate to have a few people tell me that they enjoy the content I post and the way I write. It hasn’t always been this way. If anything, my writing skills came very late into my academic journey. Truth is, up until the age of fifteen, my grammar has to be considered quite poor.

So why was it so bad and what brought on the change of fortune? Especially as a self confessed “grammarista“. well with the benefit of hindsight, I believe it originates from moving primary so often during my early years in education. Maths always came naturally to me, writing never did. I struggled with punctuation. As a child I once asked an adult how to properly use full stops; I was met with an answer of, “about every two lines.” I started putting full stops every two lines regardless of flow… You already know how my teacher took that.

In addition to the struggles in my childhood, I also under-performed at English in high school. Looking back now, I’m quite embarrassed by my lack of assimilation but back then I didn’t really care. I would confuse British English with American English by spelling words without the wonderful vowel of ‘u’ or being a bit grungy by replacing a nice consonant in ‘s’ with an ugly ‘z’. Comma splicing was very common. VERY common. ‘Their, there and they’re’ was as confusing as Pygathoras’ theorem. Basically – I wasn’t very good. But come the end of 4th year, with the tremendous help of one of my biggest academic influences in my English teacher, I managed to scrap a 3 in my Standard Grades. That should have been enough to allow me entry into Intermediate 2 for 5th year, right? Wrong.

Despite receiving an adequate result to study Int 2 English, the head for the department of English prevented me from being allowed to do so. A stray mark during one of the papers — later amended via an appeal — “disqualified” me from progressing. I was subsequently place into Intermediate 1. A relegation that both hurt and humiliated me. What followed is something that I still regret to this day: I did not entertain putting any effort into doing well in the subject during the course of the next academic year. I believed this benefit me as a means to fight back against the machine that oppressed my wishes. In hindsight, I genuinely do regret this action as I now realise that the only party that was greatly affected was myself. Still, my English teacher from the year prior stood in my corner and fought my case fairly hard, a sentiment that was not lost on myself all these years later.

For my troubles, I was rewarded a C after my 5th year exams. A C in Int 1 English. Not my finest moment. A grade that only twisted the knife in my side. With a lot of pent-up frustration, I totally ditched English for 6th year. Years later, I would only put English at a level 3 standard grade on my CV when applying for jobs. The intermediate 1 result still embarrassed me. My relationship with English was far from over. Naturally. I still required to read, write and communicate on a daily basis. My newly found maturity upon leaving school got me to realise the importance of what I had previously disregarded. My skills developed as I began to avidly read and my writing skills benefited greatly as I slowly became a grammarista. An incorrect use of “you’re” would get me nearly as annoyed as someone intentionally littering.  Unfortunately, as my level of literacy got to a decently high standard, I had nothing to reflect this growth other than a severely out-of-date grade from high school. This glitch was frustrating as it did not actively portray the hard work that I had since put in to get to where I was at. That all changed upon entering the SWAP course at college that I had previously mentioned in my first blog post. Here I managed to secure a B in Higher English, being a total of one percent away from an A grade. A little detail that will frustrate me to my deathbed.

Although not getting an ‘A’ frustrated me, I can now take satisfaction of overseeing the growth in my academic skills outside of school. Although the classroom is a great thing, not every student will truly “find themselves”  in there. Sometimes you have to realise what you don’t have, to find what you truly do possess. My bad result from school actually let me find more about myself upon leaving that I might have found had I remained in school.

So what will I take forward from this? Firstly, I like to think that I now have an appreciation that not everything will fall into place at the first, second or even third instance. Sometimes  things just need to click. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, it’s the age old cliché; Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, they were laying bricks every hour. Patience. Patience is vital in every walk of life. Friends now regard me as someone with a good grasp of the English language, regularly being asked to proofread others’ work. I wouldn’t have got here without patience.

Old ways won’t open new doors

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an introductory session on autism through Elaine Smith from Autism Scotland.

This session was organised by the Education Society and proved an extremely valuable experience to learn about a topic that, although I have heard small pockets of information, I had little knowledge of. This wasn’t through intended ignorance; rather autism was something that was never present through my time at school. It was only upon leaving that I heard it referred through conversation and the greater media, therefore I was eager to attend the hour-long seminar to further expand my knowledge on the condition.

My initial thoughts were that I was impressed by the turnout. There was easily over one hundred people in attendance, both staff and student. Over the course of the hour, Elaine presented a lot of intriguing pockets of information that resulted in me taking a page and half worth of notes. Not only did she provide knowledge on the different varieties of what someone with autism deals with, but also alternative news such as the ratio between genders, the causes and strategies to utilise to make teaching students with autism as comfortable as possible.

All in all, I simply can’t detail all of the information I left the lecture theatre with due to the extensive level of detail mentioned – but I can state that I feel the session was invaluable for my understanding moving forward, both in my future career as a primary school teacher and as a member of society. It is important that we embrace those who suffer from autism rather than shy away from it; something we might have done in the past. Together as a society, we are stronger.

I think; therefore I am

Walking out of Tuesday’s ‘Values’ module, I felt an ironic sense of negativity that I joked about to my peers. After a two hour lecture on biological discrimination, I felt bad as an atheist, straight Caucasian male. Once I had left the company of human communication, I delved a little into my own thoughts as I processed my own interpretation on the matter. One of the largest morals that I hold in life is the emphasis of equal opportunity. I don’t believe that equality is the answer, as I believe that presents problems as seen in the image below. Instead, equal opportunity is the basis to give people of all backgrounds the platform to live their life.


Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire

As a child, I grew up in a street within Dundee that would be referred to as a cul-de-sac in French. Here, I had a group of friends from the street and the lane connecting us to another similar set-up. We were just like any group of young boys from any part of the world. It took me years to realise that one of us was black. That boy would be Joshua. Joshua’s parents originally came from Nigeria and their professions were that of dentists. Not in one instance did I pick up on Joshua’s complexion because I never had reason to. We were young boys who enjoyed playing with each other. It was never a case of a group of white children playing with that one black child. Not once did I question Josh’s skin colour. The only difference I noticed from his household — a home that I regularly entered, be it for dinner or to play in his room, with only the warmest of welcomes — was the distinct, yet odd, smell of the accommodation due to the wooden African ornaments on display.

It was only several years later whilst in Primary 6 that I became aware of what the term ‘racism’ actual meant and represented. Up until that moment, my young brain could not comprehend why a person would differentiate their opinion on someone due to their complexion, as if it wasn’t a biological conclusion. To this day, I still cannot comprehend why people get so flustered about such aspects of life. As a blue eyed adult, not once has someone treated me differently due to the colour of my eyes; so why should an individual be mistreated due to the pigmentation of the skin they find themselves in.

I’m proud to state that I have never once bared witness to racial abuse in my lifetime in Scotland. That makes me proud as a man of this country. Naturally my experiences online is different due to the anonymity of users online, however I often regard such forums like Twitter and YouTube to house a cesspit of the ignorant uneducated. For myself? I just continue to treat those with darker skin, and of any race, with the respect they deserve. The respect I expect to receive. The respect that I held for a black athlete in Thierry Henry as a youth. My idol. A player that no one focused on about what colour he was or where he originated from. They just enjoyed him for what he was: a world class footballer, regardless of what team they supported.


Another factor that got me thinking was the topic of sexism. Unfortunately, with regret, I have to hold my hands up and admit that as a youth I got stuck into the mindset that boys did everything superior to girls. It’s hard not to at that stage of your development. Up until a few years ago, I would tell you that women’s football was rubbish and that men are better prepped for life than their female counterparts. I’m glad to announce that with age comes maturity. As a big, big fan of combat sports, it had given me an appreciation for a term used within the confines of the community called the “pound-for-pound” rankings. Broken down, this just ranks a fighter’s value after being stripped of any unfair advantage that might derive from height, weight or gender. Why do we have to compare women’s football to men’s football? That is a very unfair and silly metric. They do not compete against each other, so why compare? If you have to compare, it’s little more than a fact that the women are besting their male equivalent after our recent successes of qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the first ever time.

Now I know what you’re asking yourself: why am I just blurring the lines between superiority and sports? Well that correlates to academic success, too. Last year, I had the opportunity to watch a BBC documentary named ‘No More Boys and Girls[authors edit: I did not anticipate this being part of the upcoming module] that set out to test the waters of a young class when eliminating the importance of gender from the establishment. What they found was that whilst young girls were, on average, outperforming boys when it came to academic results, their confidence and self-esteem was in fact lower than the boys. This arose from the social belief that boys are stronger and more confident, whilst girls are timid and fragile. The documentary stated in spite of this, boys and girls are both equal in mental and physical ability until puberty. These shortcomings were attributed to the attitude of society where girls have to believe they are beneath boys in social standings; a perspective that continues in to adulthood and is instilled during infancy. Blue is a boy’s colour, pink is a girl’s colour. In reality, how can a colour, a natural saturation of nature, be a component of one’s gender? Instead, this ludicrous deceit is a human-made divide that separates both genders from birth.


Lastly, the final subject that I wanted to document is another instance in life that I have experienced firsthand from the perspective of the perpetrator: homophobia. As a young male growing up in Scotland, the biggest insult to my character was my masculinity, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, we associate homosexuality with a lack of manhood and therefore, many young boys hurl the insult of being gay as if it is such a negative crime against someone’s character. In the time since, I’ve had the pleasured to become acquainted with several people who identify as gay and have come to realise that their sexuality is nothing more than part of their DNA and thus does not alter what they are or aren’t capable of, both professionally and personally. One of my good friends is homosexual and that doesn’t change what he is to me. My friend. To deny or restrict his lifestyle as a result of who he truly is would be nothing short of severe discrimination.


In conclusion, Tuesday’s lesson was an incredibly important session that got me thinking of my own experiences towards the biological makeups that I am not. Just because someone is different to me, does not make them different to me. The story of people should be celebrated and shared, not restricted as a result. What makes us different, makes us similar. These sentences may appear to be clichés; but to me it is another instance of a university lecture where I find myself leaving with the promise of treating my future students, colleagues and fellow members of society with the same respect that I expect to receive myself.

A Lesson in Structural Inequalities

Yesterday I realised a some-what hard hitting truth that I thought I already knew. Personal bias is everywhere. It is as instinctual in humans as our sense of survival. Whether we like to admit it or not, favouritism is more present in our lives than we would like to admit. Be it a favourite friend in a group, your favourite footballer compared to a rival or what dog is your favourite at home.

So what lead to that realisation? During the morning Values lecture, we were informed that were to partake in group activities later in the afternoon without much of a clarification, When the time came, our particular group of roughly 24 were divided into smaller squads of 6 and were informed by the overseeing Paul Cowie that the contents of his soon-to-be issued brown envelopes contained materials that we were to be used with the purpose of designing resources for new students arriving in Dundee for the first time.

With the shadow of a time limit of roughly 10 minutes beckoning, my group quickly got to work with offering ideas when we opened our envelope to the sight of many academic assets, such as an abundance of paper, pens, rubber bands, claps and the such. It didn’t take long before we agreed that we saw fit that our creation would be a multi-paged booklet, stating the many different sides to the city of Dundee, in the shape of a cocktail menu. Paul informed us that we had to present our ideas — at this stage, just in principle — to the rest of the 3 groups. Throughout this time, he reacted positively and encouraging to our ideas, and laughed along to our quips and silly suggestions.

This positive reaction from the rest of our peers inspired the group to put ideas to paper as we took on the responsibilities of a page of the menu each whilst trying to complete it within the time-frame. Paul took the time to let us know that he believed our idea was the best of the bunch so far and happily informed that we could get a little time past the deadline. As before, when we presented our final product, we were met with positivity, smiles and subtle head nods.

So what was the correlation between the opening paragraph and the following ones, I hear you say? Well, as Paul was going to conclude the lesson, he asked the collective group about how they felt the lesson had went. As the group I was situated in agreed that we felt good about our involvement, I was shocked to have learned that the other groups were not as happy. To my further surprise, they stated that the contents of their envelope, the body language and the general replies from Paul to their table was nothing short of constant negativity and ignorance. It was here that it started to click that the last hour was essentially a social experiment used to evidence how the attitude and actions of a professional, in the form of Paul, could both hurt and dent a student’s moral towards both their product and general mindset. This was confirmed by the man himself as he stated that he deliberately altered his whole personnel when interacting with the different tables.

It was through this short, yet powerful, workshop that I realised the bottom line that will be present in my career moving forward. There will be a natural desire to want to show more loyalty and warmth to ‘straight A‘ students than those who are dragging along behind. That loyalty and warmth? That’s bias. It is not fair to show more commitment or encouragement to one pupil over that of another. School is not a place to show inequalities, it should be a place where children have equal opportunity to learn through education. That starts with the teachers. Whilst some of my colleagues might have left the workshop with the opinion that the hour we spent was a colossus waste of time, I left with the acknowledgement that no child should be treated different due to the surface appearance that they’re lagging behind. A child’s situation may be down to the background that they’re arriving to school from. Judging them is not fair. Judging them is not fair. That is biased.