How to overcome structural inequalities…

On Tuesday afternoon, I attended an interactive seminar; the class was split into four groups and each group was given an envelope with resources in it. The task was to plan and make a product out of the items within the envelope; and then finally pitch the product to the class. The task for my group seemed simple and straightforward, as we had a full envelope that contained: coloured card; coloured pens; scissors; post-it notes; blue tac; paperclips and tape. My group decided to make a university handbook, it was easy to produce because of the vast number of products we had to make it. Furthermore, the lecturer was captivated by our product and encouraged my group by telling us, “Your product is my favourite.” and “This is a great idea!” This positive feedback from the lecturer made us feel reassured that we had produced a sound product, which inevitably made us feel extremely confident.

Additionally, it wasn’t until the end of the seminar that the lecturer explained that another group that was trying to complete the same task, only had a few resources to produce their product. Despite being at a disadvantage the group was able to create a recyclable pencil case. However, the lecturer spoke very negatively about their product and barely engaged with their group; this caused the group to lack confidence in their own ability and product.

This experience opened my eyes to the amount of inequalities that can take place in a classroom; ranging from unequally giving out resources, to favouring one group over another. Also, it taught me some valuable lessons about how it’s important to treat every pupil fairly, because how you treat a child can affect the outcome of their work and individual confidence. When thinking on a wider scale, I now understand that more affluent schools, families and communities may be more successful due to the resources available to them; however in areas of deprivation it’s less likely for people to succeed because they don’t have all the resources they require.

After this class I was intrigued to find out more about the expected standards of a teacher, so I did further research on the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) website. I came across ‘The Standard for Provisional Registration (SPR)’ section, the first point focuses on ‘Learning for Sustainability’ the text describes the importance of equipping schools and communities to make wise decisions, that will help to sustain the future of our earth in an equitable way. This could be fulfilled by teaching people to respect and nurture their local environment; for example, by reducing the amount of waste they produce. Secondly, they focus on ‘Leadership for Learning’ where it insists that teachers should be continually learning new information, to improve their own knowledge and hopefully that will encourage students and members of the community to do the same. Finally, I believe SPR is important as it helps teachers to know what their required qualities and capabilities are.

Overall from this workshop I learnt that a teacher’s unfair and inequitable attitude, can impact an individual very negatively. Therefore, it’s essential that as future educators of young people, that we appreciate and respect everyone’s views and experiences, by treating them all equally.

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