My best assembly

12th June 2015 at 01:00
Using crabs to take a sideways look at society

I gave this assembly in my very first term as a newly qualified teacher. I had been encouraged to say yes to anything that was thrown at me, so I soon found myself telling a story in front of 800 pupils and staff. It went well. Even now, four years later, students ask to hear about the crabs and elephants again.

As a geography teacher, I often turn to the natural world for inspiration when giving an assembly - it is possible to find astonishing similarities between "us" and "them".

With this in mind, I decided to draw on a number of stories that my father used to tell me. The tales look at the ways animals change their behaviour patterns because of external influences. This is something that affects most 11- to 18-year-olds on a regular basis, especially in school.

The first story is about the Indian elephants who are put to work on farms. When they are young, they are tied to a heavy metal spike that they cannot free themselves from. They soon realise that trying is pointless. When they grow older, and could easily free themselves, they do not try. They live by the past example. The lesson here is not to be guided by what has happened in your past.

The second story is about crabs. If you put one crab into a basket, it will crawl up the side and escape. But when you put five crabs into a basket, as one starts to climb up the side towards freedom, the others grab on to its legs and pull it back down. This happens so much that none of the crabs will ever escape from the basket. The moral is to be careful about who you associate with.

It's a simple yet effective assembly, from which I hope every student can take lessons that help them to reach their potential, both academically and personally.

Tim Parker teaches geography at Yarm School in North Yorkshire. Find him on Twitter @parkergeog

To download resources for this assembly, visit bit.lyMyBestAssembly12June

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