This secondary SEAL assembly explores the concepts of bravery and courage

This week’s assembly explores our concept of braveness and the many different types that exist in all types of social and emotional situations, whilst reminding students that there are often people much worse off than ourselves. It is linked to the performance of Hollie Steel on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent.

Resources

Engagement

Reader 1: Did you all watch Britain’s Got Talent when it was on recently? I’m sure many of you did. Did you follow the progress of Hollie Steel? She is ten years old and made it through to the semi-finals of the programme. Unfortunately, on stage in front of a large live audience and an even larger TV audience, Hollie got very nervous and had to stop her performance. It looked as if Hollie was out of the competition, but time was found for her to perform again and on her second attempt she sang beautifully.

As one of the judges pointed out, what Hollie did was very brave. It must have been nerve-wracking enough performing it the first time round, and it must have been even more terrifying knowing that people might have expected her to fall apart when she tried again. It showed a lot of courage to get back up there and sing a second time round, and to do it so well.

There are lots of different types of bravery happening every day in all parts of the world. Our readers are going to tell you about some other little girls who show tremendous courage in their lives every day.

Reader 2: Let me tell you about Anya. She is twelve years old and is what we would call today a young carer. She lives in the UK and she looks after her mum who is physically disabled. Anya takes her mum shopping and helps her load the trolley with the week’s shop. She sometimes helps her mum to get dressed, and does many things around the house which her mum isn’t able to do. Besides this, Anya gets herself to school every day and organises her life pretty much on her own. It’s often very tiring for her, taking on the responsibility of looking after her mum, and she doesn’t often get to do what girls her age normally do – but Anya does it all happily because she cares for her mum a great deal and her mum is very grateful for that.

Reader 3: Let me tell you about Katie. She is eleven years old. She lives in the UK. Her parents drink a lot. Katie has two little brothers and one little sister and she often ends up taking on the role of their mum because her parents are unable to do so. Sometimes the atmosphere in Katie’s house can be quite stormy and yet Katie still manages to deal with it, trying to keep things as calm as she can for her little brothers and sister. This is hard, but she does it so they don’t get upset.

Reader 4: Let me tell you about Maria. She is ten years old and lives on the streets of a large South American city. She does not know who her parents are. She looks after herself and tries not to beg too often – she prefers to earn her money by working, whether that’s by shining someone’s shoes or washing their car. Life for her is sometimes very dangerous on the streets, and she has to keep her wits about her just to survive another day. This is very hard but she has no choice.

Reader 5: Let me tell you about Wai. She is eleven years old. She lives in a small village in South-East Asia. Her parents are both workers in the rice paddy fields. They earn very little money during the growing and harvesting season and at other times they have to travel to a far-off city to make a little more money whichever way they can. During these months, Wai might not see her parents at all so she lives with her elderly grandmother and her two younger brothers. There is very little money available to buy food and sometimes Wai and her brothers and grandmother may have no food for days on end. However, Wai is a cheerful child and brightens up the life of her family.

Reflection

Leader: There are little girls around the world – and in our own country – who have to show great courage every day. Perhaps they are suffering from the effects of poverty; perhaps they are suffering from the effects of difficult life circumstances. Perhaps they have to shoulder a greater burden than they should do for someone of their age; perhaps they just have to struggle to survive each day. All of the little girls are truly brave in their own way, as each faces their own personal challenges and overcomes them. These are things which take great courage.

Courage and bravery are ideas we often hear about, but they are usually linked to some dramatic act of heroism. It’s much rarer that courage and bravery are related to the ordinary life experiences of ordinary people – and even rarer the ordinary experiences of children. Perhaps we should see true courage as, not only heroic acts in extremely unusual situations, but also as the simple fact of surviving through difficult circumstances each and every day, and facing the challenges with determination and hope.

What about your own courage and bravery? Are you brave in your everyday life? I don’t mean in doing heroic acts like some sort of child superhero, I mean in facing up to the challenges and opportunities which each new day brings, with determination, optimism and bravery.

Perhaps the only brave thing you will be required to do today is to turn up to all your classes and carry out the work you are given without complaint. Perhaps the bravest thing you will be asked to do today is to offer a kind word to someone who is in need. Perhaps the only bravery you will need to show today is the courage to be who you are no matter what little obstacles life throws at you.

Perhaps today, in some way – great or small – you have the chance to be the show true courage and bravery.

Response

Leader: If you want to be brave – no need to be a heroIt is enough that you face each day with courageIt is enough that you face each day with determinationBravery comes in many forms – some glorious, some ordinaryCourage can be magnificent even when it is mundane

Be brave today

[Amen]

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2009

About the author: Joe Walker is Head of RE & Psychology at Liberton High School in Edinburgh. As well as being a well-known author he was winner of Secondary Teacher of the Year at the Scottish Education awards 2005.

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