Why Equity? by Helen Bartle

When I think about why equity is important to me it kind of feels like a really big question, and that’s because it is, and it’s one I’ve struggled to put into words for a while now. I considered it for a long time and had a few thoughts about why I believe in empowering equity amongst my students.

Is it because I think of myself as anti-racist, yes.

Is it because I believe that there should be better representation of people, races, cultures, faiths, family set ups and abilities in our schools (and in other public offices), definitely.

Is it because I think we should be continually questioning our biases, absolutely.

Or is it because I really think we should be kind to others, that one’s an obvious yes.

It’s all of those things.

Someone said to me, when you think about equity “What is it that your passionate about?” and then it clicked, it’s why I’m a teacher, it’s why I choose to get up and do this job every day, day in day out even when it feels hard and I’m tired. It’s because I want to make a difference and have an impact. I want the lives of those around in me in the school I teach in to be positively impacted because of something I did. And yes I’ll teach them to count and read and write but there’s got to be more than that. I want them to grow up to kind, understanding, unprejudiced grown ups who contribute to society positively. I want them to be the kind of people that believe in equality and equity, and that understand the power of a diverse society and that when individuals come together the results can be limitless. What is it then that I would provide for my students?

I am a massive believer in the power of play and the role of the adult in that play, not just in early years but throughout childhood. I would love all children to have access to high quality play experiences that are linked to their interests that they feel connected to, supported by an adult that believes in them.  Why? Because so many skills are learnt through playing, resilience, communication, exploration, expressing emotions, confidence building, creative thinking, managing good mental health and taking risks.

I would also want to give them the best learning environment I can. I want to stimulate curiosity through the things I provide, provide resources that are representative of them so they feel seen and recognised. I want them to see and feel the awe and wonder of the world so that they want to explore further and have high aspirations and expectations of themself and I want provoke thought through discussing and questioning their beliefs.

One of the ways we can do this is by taking the time to talk to the children we work with, find out their why, be, to quote Rita Pearson “their champion.” Get to know the children we teach on a deeper level, make those connections so that we can be there for them and give each individual child what they need.

And that’s why equity is important to me. Give a child these things, things that they need and I think you’d go a long way to creating that kind, understanding, empathetic, unprejudiced child, ready to take on the world.

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be…..We can do this. We’re educators. We’re born to make a difference.” Rita Pearson

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