Reflections on Racism

Have we moved that far as a society, in relation to racism, since the 1950’s? It would be easy to say yes, we have come a long way. Before researching this, I would have thought that the majority of attitudes have changed and Britain has become a more inclusive society.

As I researched more into this, however, I found this was not quite the case.

I found out that the recorded crime in Scotland, looking at racially aggravated conduct and harassment, shows a steady decline in offences committed. However, it is important to remember that many offences may be going unreported and the total amount of offences (1,993) is still eye-wateringly high. This shows that racism is still a very real issue that needs to be tackled.

Furthermore, the media can be an influential factor affecting the views and stereotypes, held by society, of minority groups. In fact, this year a false story was retweeted by an MP. It stated that  Muslim men were cheating the benefits system by claiming for multiple wives.

After reading about this I found this was a great example of how influential figures and the media can contribute to spreading false information, as well as suspicion and fear of minority groups. This also can be expanded on by thinking about our future roles as teachers and the importance of being unbiased, accepting and inclusive.

I recently watched the movie BlacKkKlansman, which was set in the 1970’s, and was shocked to discover this was a film based on reality, but more importantly, the ending shows footage from the events in Charlottesville. I thought this was a moving addition to the film and found that it really made me reflect on the re-emergence almost, of racism in today’s society. The film made me rethink the scale of this issue as did the lecture. As a white female living in Scotland I regret to admit, in the past, I haven’t always noticed the scale in which racism is still present in our society. However, I believe it isn’t and shouldn’t just be an issue that minority groups have to speak up against alone. Although they may have a deeper understanding, racism is everyone’s problem to address and should never be accepted.

Inequalities in the Classroom and Wider Society

On Tuesday the 18th I attended my first weekly seminar lead by Lina Waghorn, along with others in my group. I arrived and we were sorted into smaller groups at random. We sat at tables together and were each given a large envelope. I was curious as to what the task would be as I’m sure everyone else was too. Lina then instructed that we had to make a resource for new students like ourselves using what was in the envelopes. The envelope was opened and at first my team and I were confused at what was inside. We had in ours post-it notes, paperclips, a piece of paper, blue-tack, rubber bands, a pen and a pencil. We wracked our brains as we wanted to make something genuinely useful but had very limited resources to do so with. Ideas were exchanged and we decided that the most useful thing would be a map of the Dalhousie Building. The reason being that, at first, we found the building quite confusing to navigate.

I believe we worked well as a team and constructed our design as best we could based on the limited time and resources we were given. Of course, our design wasn’t the most effective or informative because of these reasons. As we were taking part in the task we soon realised that each team had different resources and some had far better and far more of them. We discussed after the task how we felt this was unfair as we didn’t get any choice in what resources we received. We also didn’t feel like it was a fair to compare our finished design with that of other groups because of this. However, we did make the best of what we had and finished the task to our satisfaction.

The purpose of the task was to highlight the inequalities that many children have based on their own background or where they live and attend school. We reflected as a whole group on what this means in schools and in wider society. Not every school has the same resources and, based on circumstances, not every child will receive the same opportunities because of this. Circumstances include where the child lives, where they go to school, how much funding the school gets and these are things that the child or even school themselves have little to no control over. It is not fair that children should receive more or less based on where they are from but this is the reality of many children.

However, children who don’t have to deal with inequalities and are perhaps on the other side of the spectrum may have a lesser appreciation of what they have. They may take the  opportunities and resources that they have for granted. I should also mention that we were never told not to share with other groups. So in light of this, it is important to consider that those with less may be more appreciative of what they do have and work harder to get what they do not.

It can even be said, that in a wider societal context, families and communities are not receiving the same opportunities and resources based on where they are from. The impact of this is that based on where someone lives they will have poorer standards of living, of education, unequal opportunities for jobs and fewer opportunities to receive support and healthcare. This may well cause divides between communities.

I found this task extremely useful, as I’m sure everyone else did, in highlighting the inequalities that people have to face everyday and how our society can be divided or united through our differences. The task also highlighted how it is important to work together with other professionals to deliver support and opportunities for children and families in general. It is important to remember, every child has different circumstances which may hold them back from opportunities they are offered, unless they are given effective support and encouragement.

What Inspired Me?

Throughout my years in Primary School I looked up to teachers that introduced new ideas, taking risks to engage and inspire the class. I remember my primary seven teacher would often take us outside for outdoor learning, we would take part in drama and act out news reports and use technology to make short videos, etc. These were the types of lessons I enjoyed and still remember to this day.

During High School I got involved in Paired Reading, P7 transition days, mentoring children struggling in their first year classes and visited my local Primary School helping children with maths and literacy tasks. These opportunities reignited my interests in teaching as well as developing them.

I applied for College as I thought this would give me professional experience working with young children as well as a good understanding of issues, topics and laws/guidance related to children and young people. Through placement I was able to have responsibility over tasks I carried out which were beneficial to my own development as well as the childrens. I was able to make different types of observations, lead the class as well as smaller groups, build good relationships with the children as well as my mentor and carry out evaluative practice.

I also worked with children who needed more assistance when doing lessons and enjoyed seeing them grow in confidence and take pride in their work. There was one child who had English as an additional language and spoke very little of it at the start of the year. It was arguably easier to see her develop because of this and by the end of the year she was much more confident and well prepared to move onto the next phase of school. It took patience and different communication techniques but it was very rewarding seeing the progress she had made. I understood through the year the importance of my role in their learning and development and with my mentors guidance realised I had to apply again.

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.