The way in which children behave is a good indication of how they feel. Bad behavior is often much more than what it appears on the surface and can indicate that the child is experiencing stress in an area of their life.
In the past, behavioral issues have been dealt with by using a retributive approach. This focuses of who was to blame and what punishment do they deserve, however since there is a need to build relationships not break them down, an approach called the restorative approach is one that has become much more popular over time.
As punishment can result in anger, poor relationships and the denial of responsibility, this approach is much better at dealing with behavior on a longer term basis rather than a “quick fix”. It has a focus on relationships and repairing harm which allows everyone involved to have their feelings heard and work together towards mending the problem rather than someone receiving all the blame.
Maths. Some people love it and others not so much. However I had never stopped to consider why until the recent mathematics inputs with Tara Harper where she did a few exercises to help us see the myths and stereotypes surrounding the subject. In one of these examples we were asked to draw a line and after we had all done so Tara stated that she found it interesting that we had all drawn straight lines. Had this been a different class such as art she believed we would have all been more creative however since this was maths no one did so. Although I did not necessarily agree with this, I did understand the point that she made. Many people do view mathematics as a duller subject and one which caused worry due to the “right or wrong” aspect to it, however it is actually more important and useful than we often realize.
Mathematics involves problem solving, something that each of us does every single day, normally without even realizing. Furthermore maths is a universal language which everyone in the world can understand and use to communicate. After receiving these inputs I now understand that mathematics is more useful than most of us believe and this is something I intend to teach my future pupils.
Upon reading my timetable and seeing the word “Dance” written on one of the slots I felt surprised and confused as to why. As someone who has been passionate about ballet since the age of 5, I felt confident to take part in this workshop however was unsure of how this class would be useful as a future teacher.
After arriving at the class my confidence quickly vanished as I realized that there were very few similarities between my experiences with dance and what this workshop would entail. We were asked to take part in various activities involving travelling across the room, working in a group and performing a short series of steps that we had come up with. While it was good fun, I did not really understand the reason for these activities until much later when reading the experiences and outcomes for dance on the Education Scotland website. Through reading these I was given a new perspective on the need for dance in the curriculum and how it benefits all children on an educational level, such as:
- Dance allows children to be creative and express how they are feeling without words.
- Children can work in partners or groups, strengthening team work skills such as talking and listening.
- It raises confidence as they perform for a group of their peers and watch others performing, allowing them to give and receive constructive comments.
However, something that really resonated with me was that this workshop I took part in was accessible to children of various dance abilities unlike the dance I have always experienced, allowing more children to feel involved in the class and enthusiastic to take part.
The relationships we have with those around us shape the experiences we have within society, however I had never considered how the relationships that babies have in their early years can shape the experiences they have throughout the rest of their lives.
Dr Suzanne Zeedyk discussed in a video (Education Scotland, 2016) about brain development in the early years and highlighted how babies brains are flexible as they are born before their brain is fully developed. This means that they are able to cope with various environments whilst they are very young as they are adaptable, however once the norm is established, the effects on the child will be carried into adulthood. Dr Suzanne Zeedyk also described how the stress hormone, cortisol, can swamp the brain if it is constantly present in a child, leading to a struggle to remain quiet or calm. Due to this the child will always be hyper-vigilant, expecting danger at any moment. This also highlights that excess cortisol can cause issues for the child in relation to their education and also their interaction and relationships with other children. In class they will perhaps fall behind their peers as they are unable to stay focused but may also struggle with friendships as their anxiousness around others can lead to a lack of empathy and emotion. I found it extremely interesting to discover that something as seemingly small as stress in childhood can lead to massive implications in the future and it made me consider what I could do as a teacher if I noticed this behavior in my classroom.
After watching a second video by John Carnochan (Education Scotland, 2016) on the importance of early years, I was also shocked to discover that many of the most violent prisoners in Scotland experienced violence in their early years, often through domestic abuse. He described that children without a significant person in their life often grow up to become murders or offenders, however Carnochan argued that as this had been normal to them, it was hard to establish the person at fault. This was shocking to me as I had never considered how, by working to lessen the amount of domestic abuse cases within Scotland, we could actually lessen the amount of criminals in the future.
Overall, I found it very interesting to consider how relationships in the early years affect the future of the child. It highlighted to me that as a future teacher it is important to be a consistent person in the children’s lives so that every child may have one significant person in their lives that will support them, regardless of what they face when they return home.
Education Scotland (2016) Pre-Birth to Three: Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk – Brain development. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lyjNIIJ0LM&index=6&list=PLcD2TdZ4bXSlQQO-QUF52X-SkQ9kI7Rlo (Accessed: 17/01/19).
Education Scotland (2016) Pre-Birth to Three: Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan – Importance of the early years. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl4p6EUW1h8 (Accessed: 17/01/19).
Does a person’s appearance allow them to be categorized?
On Tuesday 25th September we had a 2 hour long lecture on racism and patriarchy. We heard of cases such as the brutal murder of Emmet Till in 1955 and other hate crimes on black citizens around the world from the past. Having studied the black-white divide that was present in America and apartheid in South Africa, I had learnt of these cases before and therefore did not dwell on the the subject after leaving the lecture hall.
However when looking at the resources on padlet later in the day, I noticed a BBC documentary called “Black Power” which I decided to watch. It covered the recent police brutality towards black citizens in America and after watching the whole documentary I was shocked at what I had watched. Despite having heard stories about police brutality, part of me had believed that we had come so far in becoming a more welcoming society. Part of me believed that racism and treating people based on their appearance was all in the past. But I was completely wrong.
In this documentary, while black demonstrators shouted “Black lives matter”, white protesters chanted “Black brains splatter”. Many protesters were discussing how black people were more likely to be involved in crime and were dangerous within society, however the black community felt the opposite. Many described how they kept guns on their person or in their cars to protect themselves and their family and since the police in America have been responsible for more deaths in recent years than terrorists, I can certainly understand why.
This documentary was truly shocking for me and highlighted how, despite the black community having more respect and rights now than they did 50 years ago, the discrimination and divide is still undeniable. Black people still face fear of not only citizens in their home towns but also fear the police, their so-called “protectors”. Racism is not in the past, it is a problem of the present day.
In our first workshop last week we had the task of working in groups to create something a new student at the university could use. Each group was given an envelope of supplies and after opening our envelope we discovered it was going to be more difficult than originally expected; we had one post-it note, a few paper clips, a rubber band and a piece of Blu-Tack.
After a short time we began to notice that all the other groups had more resources to work with; one group even had scissors, tape and multiple pieces of paper. This caused our group to feel slight resentment towards this other group as we realised we were not as fortunate as them and at a great disadvantage. Despite our limited resources we tried our best and made a map of the campus with the key places highlighted clearly.
The other group, on the other hand, created a box of stationary for new pupils, complete with pens, scissors, tape and a colourful design to finish. After seeing our pathetic attempt it was clear that they were unimpressed with our map and who could blame them? Lina Waghorn then asked that group if they had noticed how little we had to begin with and they said that they had been so focused on their project that they had assumed we had all been given the same materials.
Lina then explained that this was not a task for fun but instead to teach us an important lesson on values. The advantaged within our society do not realise how much they have as they are so self-consumed and assume that everyone else is as fortunate as they are, however the disadvantaged realise how little they have and “make do”. Therefore as teachers we need to remember that some children will come from more affluent families than others and therefore it is important to not assume, for example, that every child has a computer or access to one in order to give all children a fair chance in their education.
This was an eye-opening way to show the inequalities that exist in our society today and a workshop I will never forget.
If someone had asked me five years ago what job I saw myself doing in the future I would not have been able to answer. However now I cannot see myself doing anything else. But how did I make this choice?
For as long as I can remember I have always loved working with young people. From being a playground buddy in P7, to mentoring younger pupils in my secondary school and even becoming a voluntary youth leader for young teenagers. Through all these experiences I gained more confidence in myself but also saw what it was like to have an impact on the life of a young person, whether that was in their academic life or their personal one, and I found it so rewarding that I was always searching for new ways to get involved with children and youth work.
When it came to deciding what path I wanted to take for my career, however, I felt overwhelmed and unsure of what I would enjoy but also be good at. Various family members and friends told me that teaching would be something they thought I would succeed at, however as a pupil who was needing extra support in her own school life I doubted whether it was something I could do.
I decided to do work experience in a primary school and although I was uncertain about it at first, I began to realise that teaching was something I would love to do. After spending time working one-to-one with a boy who needed extra maths support, I saw how I could have the same effect on children as my teachers had been having on me when I needed the additional support and encouragement, making me realise how rewarding it was to give back to the education system that I had gained so much from.
Although I did not yet know it a few years ago, I had been gaining experience in youth and children’s work my whole life, not for my CV or university application, but simply because I have always had a passion for working with young people. I know now that although I did choose to become a primary teacher, I do not believe I could have chosen anything else and I am excited for the journey ahead of me.
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