This week I took part in a workshop with my lecturer and classmates which gave me a deeper understanding of structural inequalities in a very interesting way.
In the workshop, there were four groups, each given an envelope of resources and the task was to create an item that would help a new first year student starting university. However, the resources were not distributed equally between groups, as two of them were given a much larger range of items than the others, giving them an unfair advantage. Furthermore, each group had to present their ideas, with the resources they had, to the rest of the class.
The lecturer expressed very different views to each presentation. He gave the two groups with less resources much more negative and criticising feedback, making them feel worse about themselves (I was a member of one of these groups) and the groups with much more resources more positive and praising feedback, making them feel better about themselves. However, after we finished presenting, he explained that the workshop was just an experiment to emphasise the problems of structural inequalities. It was very effective as it opened my mind greatly.
With that being said, from personally taking part in this workshop, I have a greater understanding of just how important it is to treat every child equally in every way as the way teachers treat pupils has a massive influence on how they succeed in school. For example, if a teacher made a child feel neglected or stupid in the class, it puts the false mentality in their minds that they can’t do the task and that they just want to give up. However, by creating a positive ethos in the class by encouraging good work and positivity it inspires children to want to learn more as they feel good about themselves. Confidence is key to learning and if teachers fail to give it to their pupils it can be a problem.
From being in the group that was provided with less resources, I felt bad about myself after presenting as we tried our best with the resources we had to think of a good idea but the lecturer seemed very uninterested in our presentation, facing away from us, fidgeting and unengaged to what we were saying. It gave us less confidence in ourselves whereas the groups with more resources got much better feedback and felt better about themselves, without them even noticing they had an advantage. This helped me to understand that more disadvantaged families and communities try their best with the limited resources they have, but still don’t get enough praise, and that families in more affluent areas have everything they could possibly need and consequently forget to think about the people in more deprived backgrounds.
This work shop really opened my eyes about how structural inequalities are not only present in the classroom, but also in society as we discussed about equality and the Social Justice aspect of the Standards for Registration by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. I believe that it is essential in schools to give every child equal resources as children come from a variety of different backgrounds. This means that some families may not be able to afford as much as others because some live in more affluent areas whereas others live in more deprived areas. This can affect families and communities greatly as it can impact on the child’s learning negatively. It is therefore important that teachers are aware of this and can help provide materials for families that may not be able to afford them, helping to give them a better quality of life. As a result they would not need to worry about getting resources as they might have bigger problems to worry about at home. This as a result will raise every child’s learning to an equal level, giving them all equal opportunities.