This week’s assembly challenges listeners to remember those who are left behind in one way or another, and asks listeners to question the extent to which they are inclusive in their thoughts and actions

Resources: 4 readers and a leader

[Presenters of this assembly should obviously be aware of the sensitive nature of some of the readers’ words, and their possible impact on those who are listening, and should therefore take this into account when delivering the assembly]

Engagement

Reader 1: I just don’t like P.E. All the sporty jocks running around and the super fit ones who are in clubs and stuff outside school looking pityingly on the rest of us… And as for that thing where two people choose their teams… I mean… Whoever thought that one up? Had they any idea how humiliating it can be when you and everyone else knows that nobody wants you in their team for anything. I feel like something that’s on the shelf and past its sell by date, and I can see the sporty ones trembling at the thought that I might end up on their team. I mean… as if it matters… It’s only school sports, but it is a really miserable experience for me.

Reader 2: I can see people looking at me in class – especially the really clever ones – and I know what they’re thinking: Why is he in this class? Why is he holding us back? We could get so much more done if the teacher didn’t have to spend so much time with… him. They finish their work and then they drum their pencils on the desk. A couple of them have even matched up the rhythm of their drumming to make their point… and subtle it’s not. And when we’re copying from the screen, and they’re all finished and I’m nowhere near done, and the teacher can’t move to the next slide because otherwise I won’t get my notes completed, and everyone’s getting restless and bored – even the teacher looks annoyed sometimes. Yes, it’s not fun for me at all, day in day out, period by period.

Reader 3: Our school choir is really good and we sing some fancy complicated stuff… but the teacher has asked me to sing a little more quietly. I know I’m tuneless – nobody makes any attempt to hide it from me – some of the comments they make can be quite hurtful. It’s a shame because I enjoy singing – it makes me really happy. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to do the same for others in the choir. One even asked me why I was in the choir and told me how the choir could be entering competitions and the like if, and he said what he meant here, some people weren’t completely lacking in any singing talent. Maybe the teacher shouldn’t have let me in the choir in the first place. I’m glad he did, but others aren’t.

Reader 4: Our school’s a really active one – there’s loads of clubs and groups and things like that: There’s always foreign trips to exotic places in the summertime and weekend trips away and theatre visits in the evenings and all sorts of stuff. It’s not all just learning – and our school really prides itself on all the extra things that it does for its pupils. It says they enrich our lives… and I’m sure they would… if I could afford to do any of it. I make my excuses of course – like I’m too busy to go, or there are family events on – but the fact is, my family just can’t afford to send me on the trips, and even some of the clubs which don’t go anywhere aren’t any use to me because I can’t afford the equipment you need. I tried the running club one week but you should have seen the looks my trainers got – I never went back. Some of the other kids know I can’t afford to do these things of course, and some kind of take pity on me. Others just pretend not to notice because they don’t think it’s got anything to do with them.

Reflection

Leader: Well, the World Cup is here at last -the years of preparation and hype, the endless media frenzy about which teams will be there and which won’t – the speculation about who will win…The competition is under way now and they’re all there.

But, of course, they are not. There are teams from countries who didn’t make it. That’s perhaps because they weren’t good enough to get through qualification. But it could be for other reasons – lack of financial support in their countries, or economic and social factors in the country which make it difficult to compete on the world stage at the same level as the big teams who have made it.

Then there are the injured. A great deal of media attention was given to David Beckham’s inability to join the England team because of injury. Perhaps his final chance to be part of the winning world cup team is now over. Other players suffered injury too – ending their dream of taking part.

Then there are those who were not picked for the team in the first place, who might either be accepting their exclusion bravely or feeling very down about it.

Finally, and perhaps most cruelly, there are those who thought they would be on the team but didn’t make the final squad. Many England team members have experienced this recently. Michael Dawson says he was ’gutted‘ about the decision, but that he will still be ’cheering the lads on‘ . Some have been surprised at the choices, especially as they claim that players who have helped England get to the World Cup aren’t going to be actually playing in the finals.

So as the world Cup begins, perhaps we should spare a thought for those left behind?

Response

Reader 1: But these are highly paid professionals – they know that there are winners and losers in football – even before the competition begins. They accept that – it’s not like they’re thrown on the scrapheap or anything. They’ll probably get to go and see the games – they can certainly afford it.

Reader 4: They certainly can. What I would give to even be there…

Reader 3: Yeah, I’d happily sing along with the crowds of supporters – nobody would really hear me after all!

Reader 2: And I’ll be watching every game – you might be very surprised at how much I know about football.

Leader: Yes, I suppose these players know what they’re letting themselves in for when they become professional sportsmen, but it’s still probably hard to be left behind.

Readers 1, 2, 3, 4: We know!

Leader: Do you include people in the things you do? Are you one of those people who leave people out? Do you quietly laugh about the person who’s always last to be picked for the team? Do you respond negatively to those you think have less talent than you? Do you get frustrated in classes by people who can’t go at the pace that you do? Do you turn a blind eye to the person who can’t take part – whether it’s for financial reasons or something else?

Who do you know that gets left behind? What part do you play in that? How can you put it right? How can you include others more?

Spare a thought for those left behind while you listen to this prayer.

Let us remember those who are left behindThe ones who don’t get chosenThe ones who can’t take partThe ones who find things difficult

The ones who others think are not worthy

Let us remember that all should be included, welcomed, accepted and cherished.

[Amen]

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2010

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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