Community Project

For my community project, I volunteered within the Anchor Boy section of my local Boys Brigade (BB) unit. The BB’s are a Christian youth organisation that was founded nearly 130 years ago. The unit I volunteered in meet on a Friday night for an hour so I went along for a few weeks as it was such a short meeting and I was required to do at least a half days worth of work. On a normal night, the evening consists of a mixture of crafts and games.  My role was to work one-to-one with a young boy who was partially deaf, had additional support needs and who wasn’t in mainstream schooling. I didn’t have any previous experience working with children with disabilities so I looked forward to going out my comfort zone. Image result for Boys brigade logo

Something that surprised me about working there was the attitude of the other boys. I kind of expected some of the boys to be a little unkind and teasing but lots of the boys were actually very accepting of the young boy. The leaders explained to me that when he started, they had to explain to the some of the boys about his disability and how he might struggle with some things but all the boys were very accepting and always tried to make sure that he was playing the games and joining in. Something that I found challenging on the night was communicating with the young boy. Because of his partial deafness, his speech isn’t fully developed so it was very difficult to understand at points. Some words were easier to make out than others but he could get frustrated very easily if you couldn’t understand him. This lead to him getting violent and trying to hit you and run away. Trying to control his behaviour was also something that I struggled with over the weeks. However, the most enjoyable part of volunteering with the BB’s was just being there working with the kids.  The boys range from 5-7 years old and they were really fun to be around. They’re not every serious at that age, they’re just so excitable and enthusiastic. They just want to have fun and play games and it was really uplifting being in such relaxed environment where I could just focus on them.

The biggest thing I learned about community is how easy it is to create and become a part of one. Even though none of the other boys knew the boy that I was working with or went to school with him, they all played together and just had a nice night. They had created their own little community within those church halls. I also learned something really interesting about this community in particular. The boy I was helping wasn’t the only boy with additional support needs as there were a few other boys with things like autism, etc.  However, the leaders accept them all and don’t view it as a problem. They told me how their captain had advised them to turn away the boys, including the one I was working with, if it was going to be too much for them to handle but they didn’t want to.  They spoke to me about how these children will already be facing so many difficulties so why should they exclude them more? I, personally, found this really inspiring and think that everyone should have more of an attitude like this.

Volunteering with the Boys Brigade has allowed me to develop a number of skills, including being collaborative, organised and responsible.  This relates to teaching because these are skills or attributes that will be utilised in a teaching environment.  As a teacher you will have to work with other teachers or professionals who may have different opinions or perspectives to yourself, just like in the BB’s where you have to work with different leaders in your own or another section.  The activities for that week at the Boys Brigade need to be planned out and organised beforehand, the same way that teachers have to have lesson plans and make sure that they are suitable for everyone.  On a Friday night, once the parents have dropped their children off, you are responsible for them and need to make sure they are okay and nothing happens to them. Teachers are also responsible for their class and should try o provide them with the best possible education.

Energy

This weeks topic was energy.  Similar to our first topic, which was diversity, energy is such a wide topic and I was a little unsure of what to think of it. The only memories I have of the topic were using circuits in school and if I’m honest, I found it quite boring.

We initially looked at learning some information about energy, including a definition from the Cambridge Dictionary which says energy is “the power from something such as electricity or oil that can do work” (Cambridge Dictionary, ND).  We then moved on to look at how we have such a dependability on fossil fuels but we only have limited resources left.  Business Standards (2015) estimates that we only have 50 years of oil left, 54 of gas and 110 of coal. That is really scary to think about because oil and gas could possibly run out within my lifetime and we are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. However, we then moved on to learn about Biofuels which could eventually be an alternative to petrol and diesel.

There are two different types of Biofuels, Bioethanol and Biodiesel.  Bioethanol is an alcohol based fuel made from fermenting sugar, maize or other cereals but only 5% of it can be added to petrol without adjustments. Engines also need to be altered to run at higher concentrations and to create it, large areas of farmland are needed which could be used for food production.  Biodiesel is made by reacting different oils with alcohol. It can be mixed with regular diesel, and unlike Bioethanol, it can be used on its own and car engines don’t need to be modified.

Reflecting back after the lecture using Brookefields (1995) autobiographical lens,  I found the information on biofuels really interesting as it was something I had never looked at before. I believe now that it should be a much bigger deal than it is and it should be more widely available.

I found this video and thought that this would be a really great resource to use in class to start the topic of energy.  I’ve seen the Dr. Bionics videos used whilst on placement before and the pupils responded really well to them. They use simple language and cartoons so they’re very straight forward and easy to understand.

We then moved on to a workshop where we debated about wind power. We stared off in small groups researching the pros’s and con’s and then came together with another group to combine our answers. The class was then split and we had a debate for/against wind power.

Debating is a really good tool to consider for my future practice. It can help to develop certain skills, such as being collaborative or supportive, and can also build a community within the classroom.  Debating allows an opportunity for children to work with others that they might not know that well but working with friends might also mean that they feel more comfortable and want to participate.

However, something that needs to be considered when debating is group size. As the groups got bigger, it meant more people could sit back and not participate. This happened to me on the day so I understand how easily it can happen. A way of trying to solve this problem is assigning everyone in the group a role so they have a job to do and can be held accountable to something.

Our task the following week was to create a car and make it move without touching it.  Our section had a clear set of instructions to follow to create the car and then had limited resources to try and make it move ( rubber bands, balloons, paper). The other group had no instructions, a wide variety of resources available to create their car and had freedom to make the car look and move how they wanted.

I really enjoyed the workshop but trying to find something to make it move on its own was really frustrating as that was the only part with no instructions.  Personally, I preferred working with instructions and having something to follow.  I’m not a very “outside of the box” thinker so I struggled with coming up with a creative method of moving the car.  However, I did find the environment very relaxed and found that if you encountered a problem, someone else in the room was able to help because we were all doing the same thing.

I do understand though that the structured method of following instructions won’t work well for everyone and that there are positives to allowing freedom and the opportunity to tinker with ideas and objects.

By relating to the UWS Graduate Attributes, I believe that this week’s input has helped me to become more knowledgable and influential. If I plan to teach the topic of energy, or any science topic, I need to be knowledgeable in the area and know what I’m talking about so that I can give the children the best possible education.  I believe that I have become more influential because as a teacher, you will be a main viewpoint for many children and influence what their thoughts and opinions. If we can teach them to be more eco-friendly, this may inspire them and could overtime help our planet.

References

  • Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  • https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/energy
  • https://www.business-standard.com/article/punditry/how-long-will-fossil-fuels-last-115092201397_1.html
  • University of the West of Scotland (2018) UWS Graduate Attributes [Online] Available: https://www.uws.ac.uk/current-students/your-graduate-attributes/[Accessed: 19 November 2019]

Natural Disasters

This week, we were learning about Natural Disasters. We firstly looked at what a natural disaster is and the International Federation of Red Cross defines it as  “a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources”.  Disasters can also be separated  into different categories which are Geographical, Hydrological, Climatological, Meteorological and Biological. I was surprised to find out that there is so many types of disasters.

We also looked at the political and social science side of natural disasters.  We started off by watching two videos comparing the impact of Hurricane Matthew in two different countries, Haiti and Florida. Whilst Haiti was destroyed, had no prior warning and relied on lots of foreign aid, Florida had had previous warning via a press announcement and the area was evacuated. I was really shocked to see how vastly different the countries responses were and some scenes were quite emotional to watch.  We also learned about the effect that humans have on natural disasters, such as urbanisation, global warming or land use, and the huge impact that governments can have also, in terms of things like funding priorities, preparation or lack of and corruption, etc.

We then discussed natural disasters from a teaching standpoint and how we can teach it to children without scaring them. We shouldn’t shy away from the topic because it can be intense and frightening. Disasters can help children to look further than their own communities and towards the outside world (Halocha, 2012) which is why we need to provide our pupils with both local and global viewpoints. Natural disasters also lends itself quite well to lots of cross-curricular opportunities. For example, you could write a creative story in a literacy lesson or use ICT to research other examples of disasters and create a presentation, fact-file, leaflet, etc.

We also had a workshop on different experiments and activities that linked to natural disasters. Some were more interactive than others, such as the baking soda volcano, but it would still be a really good resource to use in class because it shows natural disasters in a fun and engaging way rather than the scary side.

Another main focus of the natural disaster topic was our micro teaching task.  We were instructed to create a presentation about how we would teach a natural disaster to a class. We were given earthquakes as our disaster and I was a little unsure how to approach the topic as it can get quite technical. However, we decided to include a video that we found really explained the subject well because it talked through everything in simple language, had lots of images and provided examples to put it into context.

Using the Brookefield, S (1995) Model of Reflection, I looked back to before our lecture and how the topic of natural disasters seemed quite daunting. It can be a very emotional topic and the thought of teaching it freaked me out. However, after spending time researching and further increasing my own knowledge, the topic no longer frightens me.  As a pupil, I would think that natural disasters are really interesting and it could also inspire my charitable side to help people affected both at home and abroad.

I also read an article about how countries that are affected by natural disasters are more likely to be affected by civil conflict, especially low and middle income countries. This shows that academics are starting to reflect on the aftermath of disasters and considering how the political and social factors are becoming just as important as the disaster itself (Nel,P and Righart,M  2008).

Looking over the UWS Graduate attributes, I believe that this topic has helped to create and develop certain skills and attributes. In particular, being collaborative, knowledgable and digitally literate. These are all attributes that are vital in both the professional workplace and in my personal life.

References 

  • Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass
  • •Halocha. J (2012) The Primary Teacher’s Guide to Geography. Witney: Scholastic
  • Nel, P. and Righarts, M. (2008) Natural Disasters and Risk of Violent Civil Conflict. International Studies Quarterly, Volume 52 (issue 1), pp. 159-185
  • University of the West of Scotland (2018) UWS Graduate Attributes [Online] Available: https://www.uws.ac.uk/current-students/your-graduate-attributes/[Accessed: 15 November 2019
  • www.ifrc.org, accessed october 2019

 

Interdependence

This weeks topic was Interdependence. Interdependence can be defined as the way that two or more living things depend on each other to grow and live healthy and there are 3 main components of Interdependence: Economic, Social and Environmental.

Economic interdependence is related to global market trading and how goods and services can be both produced and traded across the world.  This also relates to the stock market because the value of other currencies, such as the Euro, Dollar or Yen, has an impact on the UKs economy. We can also involved in economic interdependence by being a part of multinational financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. An example of this is that the Eu is till supporting Greece to get out of its financial crisis of 2009.

We looked at social interdependence from the perspective that it can create cultural integration. For example, Hollywood Tv and Movies are broadcast across the world which firstly creates a demand for them and boosts the US economy and secondly transfers American beliefs and values onto the rest of the world. Many media and advertising corporations are dominated by America and Europe which means that it’s mainly western opinions and values that are being pushed on the rest of the world.

Environmental interdependence is recognising that everything and everyone has an important role in maintaining the web of life. If we change one part of a system then it can have detrimental implications on the other parts. We also need to look further than our local impacts and acknowledge that there are global responsibilities and repercussions because in a very basic sense, we all share the same resources, such as the air and the oceans, so we are all depending on each other to look after these resources.

Reflecting back after the initial input on interdependence, I had understood the environmental part as quite straight forward because of my previous science experience but the social and economic aspects were something I had never considered before. From first glance, these aspects do not look like interdependence but the more I thought about it and considered the examples given, it made more sense. I also thought that this was a good way to link with social science subjects in class and provides a different topic to look at with possibly older pupils.

I found this video and thought that it would be a really great resource to use in class. Although the video is about Ecosystems, it links into interdependence via food chains and it is easy to understand because the video was made by children.

As a part of the interdependence topic, we visited two different dairy farms. The first one we visited was a small organic farm with a small amount of cows and everything is done on site (the milking, production of the milk, etc).  One of the interesting points of the farm is that they sell directly to the public and are not stocked within big supermarkets. This was so they could cut out the middle man, keep their milk at a reasonable price and be able to make a wage for the farmers. We also visited another farm which was more technology based where everything was operated by machines and the cows were kept indoors. This made me feel a little uncomfortable as you like to believe that animals should be outside, in the fresh air, being able to roam about. The farmer explained that the cows are getting everything they need and are being treated fairly but it just didn’t sit right with me.

The farm visits helped to highlight interdependence in different ways. In the first farm, the farmers were dependant on the public buying their milk so they could make a living whilst the second farm was dependent on the help of the machines as there was no way that the farmers could manage something of this scale on their own.  Both of the farms provided an interactive and engaging way to tech the children about the topic of interdependence.

Using the Bookefield, S (1995)  Model of Reflection, on an autobiographical level, studying the topic of interdependence highlighted how important it is across every aspect of the world and how we can have such an impact, especially environmentally. If I was to reflect on interdependence as a pupil, it would help to show how all my actions have consequences, both positive and negative, and especially on a local level.

References

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass

 

Climate Change

We started off our new topic by going over the facts of climate change in our lecture. I had always thought that the term climate change referred to the weather and that was the reason for some of the crazy weather we had been experiencing over the past few years, for example, when we received snow in the March of 2018. However, climate is actually the average temperature in an area over a long period of time, typically 30 years. So the weather can change on a daily basis but if it doesn’t stay consistent, this is known as climate change. I also learned that climate change doesn’t just affect the weather, it has a much larger impact across the world. For example, it can have a devastating effect for agriculture. This could be in a variety of ways such as desertification,  which is a process where agricultural land on the edge of deserts becomes unusable,  crops being wiped out by floods and crop yields across the world decreasing. Climate change can also cause sea levels to change meaning that coastal land is at risk of disappearing and low-lying land is at threat as well as the 80 million lives of the people who live in these areas. Climate change is a very important topic because not only does it affect long term decisions for humans, like farming, but it also effects trends and patterns for animals and plants. This was something that stuck with me because it reminded me that it’s not just our planet, it belongs to them too and they also need to live with the consequences of our actions. We also briefly looked at Global Warming. This begins with greenhouse gasses travelling into the worlds atmosphere, becoming trapped and then acting like a blanket round the earth, heating it up. This is known as the greenhouse effect and the rising temperature of the earth because of this is known as Global warming.

Reflecting on my own knowledge of climate change and global warming, I wasn’t really aware that there was a difference and this was probably down to a lack of knowledge and ignorance. I remember as a child doing lots in school to help the environment, like recycling or walking to school, but it was not as big an issue as it is today. That’s why I think this would be a bigger concern for pupils nowadays because it’s their future that’s on their line. If I use the Brookefield,S (1995) Model of Reflection and reflect on climate change as a pupil, I would think that it should be a major topic within the school as it is such a current issue and that I could come up with more creative and out-the-box idea’s because I believe that anything can be possible. However, if I reflect on the same issue from the perspective of my colleagues and peers, I can understand that it can be easily ignored and you can feel like you don’t really make a difference if you’re the only one doing anything to help but I believe that this would motivate you more. It only takes one person to inspire somebody and make them think “yeh, I can do that too!”.

We also looked at science experiments that could be used to demonstrate climate like shaving foam clouds and tornado in a glass (videos below). These were all really fun to do and would be great for children in the classroom. One main point that I took away from the experiments is that you shouldn’t worry if they do not work all the time. Science is one of the only subjects where not getting a result or the result you wanted is still a valid result. Science can also help to create and develop skills that are not only vital in the work place, as a future teacher, but also in general life. Some of these skills include communication, problem solving, listening and time management and in my personal opinion, I believe these are all already strong attributes of mine.

A resource that I found interesting, both on a personal level and as something that could be used within the classroom was the WWF Footprint Calculator. It was a simple questionnaire that then told you how much of an impact you are having on the global footprint. I found my result quite shocking but once it was explained it to me, I was able to pick out some obvious but substantial changes that I could make that would make a major difference. The questionnaire was simple enough that pupils could do it and then as a class, come up with some strategies to help save our planet.

References  

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass

https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/

 

Diversity

Our first input in Sustainable Development was looking at Diversity. I found this quite daunting because I was unsure what it would cover. It’s such a wide topic and I only have a little science knowledge so I thought that I could be out my depth and might struggle to understand some of it.

 In our first  workshop, we looked at different experiments that you could do in the class, like dissecting a flower and moving a snail around different environments. We also went outside and took some bark & leaf rubbings. I found this really interesting because I didn’t realise that there was such a large variety of plants and tree so nearby. I also thought this would be really good lesson for future practice because it can be done with the simplest of gardens and could also inspire children to take pride in their own gardens at home because they’ve learnt about the local diversity in class.

We then had an input from WOSDEC were we first discussed our probable/preferable futures.  Our preferable future is how we want the world to turn out, and this included lots of ideas like less single use plastic or political stability, whist our probable future is how we realistically see our future, which included complete and utter chaos. We discussed how one of the ways we turn the probable in the preferable is by being and creating Global Citizens. We used the ‘Head, Heart Hands’ exercise to help develop our own understanding of what it means to be a global citizen. In our group, we decided that a global citizen should be positive, open-minded, creative and motivated. They should also feel empathetic and they should be willing to take part in volunteering and protesting for what they believe in.  This was quite eyeopening for me as it helped me realise that although I have some of the skills needed like positivity or empathy, there was still area’s I was lacking in that would make me a better global citizen.  I found the activity really useful for future practice as well because it allows for lots of discussion and for children to gain different viewpoints from each other.

The following week, our input was on cultural diversity. I was really looking forward to this because I’ve always had an interest in this area, and similar subjects like social sciences, and I hoped it would include a lot of discussion and debate. We started out with a common clusters activity which showed that even within a small group of individuals, we were all so different and that there was a range of backgrounds and life experiences.  We also looked at Scotlands diversity and I was really shocked at some of the results. I had assumed that we were very diverse as a country but in reality, it’s not as high as we would like to believe. For example, only 4% of Scotland are of an ethnic minority and only 2.1% are Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh (Scottish Government, 2011). Copeland and Bowden (2014) stated that children now “can inhibit a range of identities that are as confusing as they are defining” (p.386) and I thought that this was a really interesting point to take on board as a future practitioner. Children will struggle just the same, if not more than we will with finding their own identity and where they belong. This is why as teachers we should be reinforcing diversity in the classroom and celebrating what makes us different and unique. Children may also only be receiving one certain viewpoint at home so its part of our job to open up their mind to the surrounding world through discussions and debates in a safe environment.

Over the two weeks, I think the diversity topic has helped to develop some of my skills. In particular, my team working skills. I learnt that when having discussions as a group, I know when to stand up and voice my opinion but also that everyone deserves that chance and sometimes you step back for other people. However, I think a skill in particular that I need to develop more is my creative thinking and being able to think outside the box.

References

  • šCopeland, P. & Bowden, D. (2014) Responding to Cultural Diversity and Citizenship. In: Cremin, T. & Arthur, J. (eds) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. London: Routledge pp385-399
  • šScottish Government (2011a) Scotland’s Census. [Online] Available: http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/news/census-2011-release-2a[Accessed: 23rd of September 2019]