Equality is a value that has a profound effect upon the opportunities each of us are granted in various aspects of life. Within education, equality has a significant impact on the ways in which children feel accepted and included in school and, as a result, has a major effect on each and every child’s learning and education. From recently participating in the first seminar of the course, I realised just how important equality is within education and the impact it has on the well-being of each child.
For the first part of the seminar, having been split into four groups of around six members, each group was handed an envelope, in which we were then instructed to use the materials inside to think of an object that would be useful for a first year student. The materials my group were given were various coloured sheets of paper, scissors, glue, paper-clips, pens and more. Having been given more than enough materials to choose from but only a limited amount of time, our group came to the decision to create a ‘Map Book’. When presenting our idea to the remaining groups, our seminar advisor, Paul Cowie, seemed intrigued and enthusiastic with our idea through his use of eye contact, body language and praise given at the end of our presentation. As a result of the positive feedback, our group were left feeling good about our idea.
In contrast, we noticed that some of the other groups were only given a limited amount of materials to use from when creating their ideas. Despite creating and presenting interesting and practical ideas from only a handful of resources, these groups were made to feel discouraged about their ideas from the negative feedback given from our advisor, as well as his lack of interest shown through little enthusiasm and engagement with their presentation. After presenting our ideas, we were then asked as a whole how our overall experience creating and presenting our ideas went. On the one hand, my group and one other found the experience to be positive as a result of the level of praise and enthusiasm we received. From the number of materials we were given, we also found creating an idea to be a relatively easy and straightforward task. On the other hand, when asked about their experience, the other two groups found the experience to be demoralising and discouraging as a result of the lack of interest and enthusiasm shown for their ideas throughout the exercise. Little did we know that the whole meaning of the exercise was to reflect on the wider issue of equality in the education system.
From this seminar, I learnt that it is important to recognise and acknowledge that all children come from a number of different backgrounds and that not all schools will necessarily have the funding for the variety of supplies more affluent schools may have. When treated differently from others, children begin to feel discouraged and disheartened or even frustrated and aggressive, resulting in their confidence and self-esteem to diminish. As a result, this leaves a negative effect on their overall mental well-being. Therefore, regardless of background and affluence, I believe that equality is a value that should be prevalent in the heart of teaching. If each child in a classroom of children is treated with equality, each child will be made to feel involved and included, rather than discouraged and isolated.