Author Archives: Kirsten Elliott

Dance Workshop Reflection

Recently, we were given the opportunity to experience a one hour workshop on dance and how to construct a lesson plan ideal for children in both middle and upper stages of primary.

Firstly, we were shown a number of videos on a variety of different styles and cultures of dance, such as hip-hop and ballet. This is an ideal way to begin the lesson as children are able to begin to express their own ideas through creative work in dance from the inspiration of a range of stimuli; some of the learning outcomes of dance in the Curriculum for Excellence (EXA 0-09a, EXA 1-09a, EXA 2-09a).

After a warm up, we were then asked to get into pairs and find as many ways as possible to travel across the room. By doing so, this already built up confidence, as well as enabling us to think of create multiple solutions to the task given. After sharing our ideas with the rest of the group, we were then asked to pick our favourite idea created by another pair and try it out. By doing so, this enabled us to learn from each and work together, as well as being able to give and receive positive and constructive feedback (EXA 0-11a, EXA 1-11a, EXA 2-11a, EXA 3-11a).

Lastly, we were given the task to get into groups of four, teach the other pair your own travelling step, experiment with how many ways you can spin and choose your favourite, then make a start and end pose. We were then asked to put it all together and share what we created with the rest of the class. As a result, this allowed us to experience the energy and excitement of both presenting and performing in front of an audience, as well as being a part of the audience for when other groups were presenting (EXA 0-01a, EXA 1-01a, EXA 2-01a).

Overall, experiencing this dance workshop not only increased my understanding on how I would approach constructing a lesson plan on dance, if I were required to teach a lesson on this area of the expressive arts, but also raised my understanding on just how important dance is as an area in the school curriculum and for each child’s journey through education.

‘No More Boys and Girls’ – A Lesson on Gender Stereotyping

If you were asked to buy clothes for a child, it’s hard to break away from the instinct to associate the colours blue for a boy and pink for a girl. Similarly, when asked to picture a toy that would appeal more towards a boy or a girl, I know that, in my case, I would initially picture a doll for a girl and lego for a boy. This subconscious instinct to categorise what we believe to be socially acceptable or appropriate for children of both biological sexes is what is defined as ‘Gender Stereotyping’; a term used to describe the preconceived ideas whereby males and females are arbitrarily assigned characteristics and roles determined and limited by their gender. After watching the BBC Documentary ‘No More Boys and Girls’, I’ve learnt just how vastly gender stereotyping effects aspects of everyday life, let alone within schools.

So is the way we treat boys and girls the real reason as to why we are yet to achieve gender equality? Throughout his documentary, Dr Javid Abdelmoneim set out to find the answer to this question by carrying out a series of tests and interventions with children at their most influential age; a class of seven-year-old primary pupils. When asked to describe a boy, some of the responses given by pupils included ‘boys are strong’, ‘boys are smart’ and ‘boys don’t cry’. In comparison, when asked to describe a girl, the majority of the responses given revolved around ‘being pretty’ and ‘wearing makeup’. In addition, after running various tests, Dr Javid found that girls were significantly less self-confident and boys found it harder to express their emotions. Furthermore, when given the task to solve a Tangram puzzle, Dr Javid found that boys had a greater spacial awareness and ability to piece together puzzles and shapes than girls. This is most likely a result of the experiences children have in childhood, the toys they play with, and the world they inhabit, thus shaping the abilities they adapt, as well as physically changing the structure of their brains.

With the aim of addressing these issues, one of the first interventions Dr Javid put into place was setting the children the task of displaying a series of paired quotes around the classroom. Some of these quotes, to name a few, included; ‘boys and girls are strong’, ‘boys and girls are smart’, and ‘boys and girls are sensitive’. By doing so, this was the first step in educating the children that, what boys can do, girls can do too, and vice versa. To further implement this, when asked to draw what they pictured to be a mechanic and a dancer, the majority of the children drew the mechanic as male and the dancer as female. However, when inviting a male dancer and female mechanic into the classroom, this further combated the pupils’ beliefs of what is seen as a ‘man’ a ‘woman’s job’. Furthermore, when observing behaviour in the classroom, Dr Javid picked up on the ways in which the teacher would address the class; calling the girls ‘love’ and the boys ‘mate’. Although seemingly harmless, this was a way in which children were being treated and regarded differently. To avoid this, a chart was created whereby a mark would be made for each time these nicknames would be mentioned. By removing nicknames associated with each of the sexes, this further implemented that both boys and girls should be treated and regarded as equals.

At the start of term, the difference in self confidence levels between girls and boys stood at 8%. At the end of term, this percentage dropped down to only 0.2% as a result of the various interventions put into place. Additionally, the boys’ pro-social behaviour increased by 10%, their observed bad behaviour decreased by 57%, and their ability to identify emotions had improved greatly. Along with this, over the term, girls’ self motivation increased by 12% and, after two weeks of practice, the top 10 pupils at Tangram puzzles were 5 boys and 5 girls.

From these results, it is clear that, by implementing gender equality to children of such an influential age, children are already able to dismiss the stereotypical ideologies and ‘differences’ that have existed for generations and acknowledge each other as equals in only a short space of time. By removing gender stereotyping, you are left with more confident, happy children that recognise their similarities with others, as well as their own abilities, enabling them to reach their full potential.

 

Sociological Perspectives on Racism and Sexism

Racism and sexism are two of the many issues that unfortunately continue to remain prevalent in today’s society. As part of our ‘Values: Self, Society and the Professions’ module, we were given a lecture on racism and sexism throughout history and how these issues from the past still remain prevalent to this day. It was interesting and thought-provoking to learn about various events in history motivated by these issues that took place within our own country, some of which for the very first time.

One of the stories we were told of that I had never heard before was that of Emmett Till, a young boy who’s life was taken at the hands of a racially motivated crime. When reflecting on this particular story, for a child so young to endure such a horrible act over the colour of their skin breaks my heart. Furthermore, it hurts to think that the children of this generation will continue to grow in a society in which racism continues to be present.

Sexism and patriarchy were other issues that were discussed in the lecture. When looking back on the Women’s Suffrage movement, a topic that I had previously learnt about during my time at school, it shocked me to see that, regardless of the tireless campaigning put in with the aim of achieving equal voting rights for women, sexism and patriarchy continue to be issues that are still prevalent in this modern day and age. The gender pay gap, for example, is an issue that remains at large, whereby women are working lower paid jobs and/or working less hours compared to men.

It shocks me that, in a world advancing with technology for example, racism and sexism are issues that are still holding us back in the past and are preventing us from progressing on-wards. As a future primary school teacher, from this lecture, I left with my belief strengthened that the classroom should be a happy and safe environment for each and every child, free of racism, sexism, and prejudice.

Equality in Education

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.

 

Why I chose to study Teaching

For many years, I have held a strong passion to pursue a career within the teaching field. Yet, it was from work experience that gave me my first real insight into the world of education and, for me, truly ignited my drive to become a future Primary school teacher.

During my time at Oaklands school, I learned how to educate and take care of the children, enabling each and every child to interact and feel involved in the activities within their classes. Furthermore, I was able to shadow the teachers and learning support staff on what was required to provide pupils with a safe and enjoyable environment that encourages their learning. Throughout this experience I was instantly captivated by the care and dedication the teachers put into their work. Additionally, as my brother was a pupil at Oaklands at the time, by working alongside him, I found the experience to also be very personal. Although the responsibilities given to me were often challenging and demanding, my time working at the school was very fulfilling and the experience overall was extremely rewarding. As a result of my thorough enjoyment of working at Oaklands, I was, and continued to be, keen on further advancing my work experience in the teaching field in order to become a future Primary school teacher.

In addition, during my spare time in 6th form I volunteered within the primary school, whereby I was given the opportunity to help out twice a week with various classes from younger year groups in both the classroom and in physical education. This experience was beneficial as it added to my experience of working with children in different learning environments. Moreover, the experience of being able to assist in the junior school granted me additional insight and understanding of the teaching world, as well as continuing to significantly enhance my passion to pursue teaching as a profession. Alongside this, my involvement in the school’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF), as well as having attended various CCF camps over the summer holidays, in which I was required to teach a number of younger cadets the basic principles of CCF, allowed me to obtain and use communicative, collaborative and leadership skills; some of the many qualities I feel are vital in the teaching profession.

For me, the Primary teacher is the first of many role models a child looks up to at a particularly influential stage of their life. Therefore, I believe that it is important for any and every Primary teacher to obtain and portray a variety of qualities, such as patience, communication, and understanding that, in my opinion, are vital for each and every child’s character development, let alone in the teaching profession as a whole. Furthermore, I strongly believe that, from obtaining these qualities myself throughout work experience, let alone within the everyday, overtime, my own character has developed for the better. As a result, my passion for pursuing primary teaching as a future profession has not only given me an insight into the world of education, but has also allowed me to obtain and develop various qualities that I can put to use in a classroom environment that will enable me to help shape the minds of the future generations.

Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

The ePortfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:

You can pull in a YouTube video:

You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:

You can upload an image or pull one in from Flickr or any other image sharing site.

Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.