Last week, SRtRC Wales enjoyed working with University of Wales Trinity Saint David PGCE students across two campuses, delivering a series of targeted sessions to 134 trainee teachers, as well as a bespoke day of workshops for Rhondda Cynon Taff’s youth workers.
Our days in Swansea and Carmarthen saw custom-designed, condensed half-day sessions being delivered to students who were encouraged to consider the topic of immigration from the perspectives of their pupils and shown some useful activities that could be used to build empathy in their classroom. As the sessions aimed to give teachers useful ‘on-the-ground’ know-how, a number of key questions were discussed. How should they respond if a pupil tells them that a person from a different country ‘stole’ their parent’s job? How could they create the kind of safe learning environment where pupils were able to explore and recognise their own prejudices? What kind of questioning and probing would encourage that pupil to think critically about that initial statement and allow them to undertake a learning journey? By discussing real life, classroom case studies, the trainee teachers were able to plan their own responses in a safe space, preparing them to act effectively if a similar situation was to arise in the classroom.
Friday saw us meeting with Rhondda Cynon Taff Council youth workers. Youth workers play a pivotal role in shaping our young people as they are often seen as a friend or mentor by those they work with and so may be privy to attitudes and ideas that others may not experience. As such, sessions were focused around sharing as much information as possible so that staff would be prepared to question and challenge prejudiced views in a safe, nurturing environment.
Like the students at UWTSD, the council workers were encouraged to consider terminology. A detailed discussion of correct and incorrect terminology when referring to a person’s skin colour, religion, nationality, or culture, is often requested by both adults and younger people as the topic can be confusing. After taking the time to discuss the meanings and histories behind certain words and a detailed and interesting discussion of the inconsistencies surrounding certain words, participants have now been fully prepared to challenge any negative language they encounter.
All in all, it has been a busy but rewarding week. By working with influential adults both inside and outside the traditional education system, together we can ensure that our young people are consistently shown that prejudiced attitudes have no place in our society.