Event opens future teachers' eyes to poverty
By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer
Teacher candidates in Queen’s Faculty of Education recently participated in the annual Poverty Challenge, an event that gives them a better understanding of what it’s like to live in poverty. The challenge took place as part of a professional studies course led by Peter Chin, the faculty’s associate dean (undergraduate studies), in partnership with the Kingston Poverty Challenge.
“Most of our teacher candidates have not had direct experience with living in poverty, but over the course of their careers, the vast majority of them will teach students for whom poverty is a daily challenge,” says Dr. Chin. “This event helps teacher candidates get a better understanding of poverty through role play and discussion.”
670 Bachelor of Education teacher candidates took part in the event, supported by a team of over 130 volunteers. Each of the teacher candidates assumed the role of a Kingston person living in poverty and played out scenarios where they had to navigate social services and undertake other challenges.
“Teacher candidates had to perform tasks like getting subsidized housing, finding emergency money to last for the end of the month, and deal with local agencies to access services,” says Dr. Chin. “The whole day was a powerful learning experience, and ultimately we hope it makes them more aware and empathetic teachers.”
After the simulations students and other participants met in groups to reflect on their experiences and discuss how to use their new knowledge in their classrooms. The event concluded with keynote presentations from community members who encouraged the group of nearly 700 future teachers to become agents for social change.