Challenge your pupils to consider how they see the world and whether their way of looking at it could benefit from further reflection, with this secondary assembly

Resources

Five readers and one leader

Engagement

Reader 1: (To be read in the form of a bedtime story) Once upon a time there was a little girl called Hood – Red Riding Hood to be exact. Now Little Red Riding Hood used to visit her Granny in the woods every so often and take with her some nice cakes and lemonade, and pretty flowers for Granny. She’d been doing this for years – thirteen years to be exact.

One day, as Little Red Riding Hood was strolling through the forest towards Granny’s house, she suddenly stopped and sat herself down in the long grass.

Reader 2: Why on earth am I doing this, wasting my time visiting Granny – all she ever talks about is the old days, and how things aren’t as good now….. blah blah blah. She never bothers to ask about me, and never gives me any presents or money. What’s the point in going there again and again? It’s not like my parents seem to care – sending a girl like me into the woods all alone.  Right, that’s it – today I’m eating all the cakes.

Reader 1: So Little Red Riding Hood had a picnic all to herself. She ate all the cakes, guzzled all the lemonade, and, after a mighty burp, threw the flowers away. Then she picked herself up, skipped home, and watched TV.

Now, by mistake, she had left her red hooded cloak behind. The whole time, unknown to Little Red Riding Hood, she had been watched by a wolf. As soon as she had gone, the wolf went over to where she had been sitting, put on her cloak and headed into the woods.

Along the way the wolf bought some cakes, lemonade and some flowers and headed off to Granny’s house. Oh dear, doesn’t sound good does it? Now, poor Granny’s eyesight wasn’t very good and she opened the door to what she thought was Little Red Riding Hood, letting the wolf in.

Once in, the wolf gave Granny the cakes and they shared the lemonade between them. Granny told the wolf all about the olden days and the wolf listened very carefully. Granny even got out her banjo and she and the wolf had a lovely sing-along – though Granny did wonder when Little Red Riding Hood’s voice had broken and couldn’t remember if that was normal for a little girl or not – even one of thirteen.  At last the wolf said;

Reader 3: Thank you for a lovely day Granny, I’ve enjoyed it very much.

Reader 1: Granny replied;

Reader 4: No, thank you Little Red Riding Hood – that’s the best day I’ve had in years. I thought you’d become bored with my stories of the old days, but obviously not.

Reader 1: The wolf then gave Granny a hug and went home and Granny went to bed as happy as could be…

Reflection

Leader: Sometimes when adults tell a child a bedtime story, they change it around a little – this is always a dangerous thing to do and young children can get very annoyed by it.

Children never tire of hearing the same story over and over again, and they very much prefer to hear that story the way they have always heard it. Any change can be met with howls of protest.

Last week it was announced that the film director Ridley Scott is planning to make a film of Robin Hood. Some of the news stories surrounding this say he is planning to “subvert” the characters. This means that he’s going to show them in quite a different light to what we’re used to.

This is being met with some protest – from adults. In the proposed film, Maid Marian won’t be feisty and warm-hearted as we all know her to be, but instead a bit nasty. The Sheriff of Nottingham will be portrayed in a more favourable light, and Robin himself could even end up as a villain (see article in The Guardian).

“What on earth is the world coming to?” I hear you ask. It shows that it’s not only children who like stories to remain comfortable and familiar. So why is this?

Most people like things to be fairly predictable – some more than others of course. In the film “Shirley Valentine”, Shirley’s husband gets very annoyed because Shirley serves up a different meal one Tuesday to the one he usually has on a Tuesday. Most of us are not that set in our ways, but why do we like this sense of predictability?

The answer is probably because it makes us feel secure. Change can be good but it can also be a threat for some. Recent stories in the news have been fairly gloomy about Britain’s economic situation; petrol prices are going up and up and food prices are increasing. Things aren’t what they used to be – and for some, that unpredictability is not pleasant.

Our world, and our lives, couldn’t actually exist without some element of predictability. Imagine if you threw something into the air and sometimes it fell back down again and other times it kept on going upwards. The laws of physics need predictability. So too do our relationships with people. You’d probably go off someone very quickly if they were kind to you one day and horrible to you the next day.

But is this the same as never welcoming change? Does all of this mean that we should never look positively on things being different? Should Robin Hood forever be the hero who robs from the rich to give to the poor, and Maid Marian his warm-hearted and plucky sidekick?

Most of the world’s religions have a strong view about change. Most suggest that we should look very carefully at “the way things are” and ask ourselves if the way things are is the only way, or if there might be a better one. You see, liking things to be familiar and predictable can have its down side too. Who would ever have made great discoveries? Who would ever have made new friends? Who would ever have changed the world by accepting things as they are – by being satisfied with the familiar and the predictable?

Jesus asked people to turn away from hating the people they thought of as the enemy and to instead see them completely differently; as friends.

The Prophet Muhammad asked people to turn away from the idols they had worshipped in Mecca and to turn instead to one invisible God; Allah.

The Buddha asked people to think again about the illusion that everything around us is permanent.

Perhaps we should look at recent news stories and think again about the world as we see it. Perhaps more expensive petrol should make us think about using other forms of transport; perhaps increasing prices might make us think again about the amount of food we throw away unused; perhaps a new kind of Robin Hood might make us think again about the people we see as heroes. Perhaps we need to think again even about ourselves.

Look at your life. What do you need to “think again” about?

Response

Think about your own life as you listen to these words. You may treat it as a prayer if you like.

We give thanks for those things which are predictable And we ask for the wisdom and insight to deal with those things which are unpredictable As we examine our lives, help us to think about how we live them; about what needs to stay the same and about what needs to change Give us the courage to accept the way things are, but also to challenge them so that they can change for the better

Help us to think again.

Amen

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2008

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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