Self-assembly instructions

13th June 2008 at 01:00
I've just bought this amazing new resource

I've just bought this amazing new resource. Well, that's what it says on the cover. It's a book. A real one, with paper pages. I know it's old fashioned, but it's fully national curriculum-linked and comes with online extras. It's called `Exciting, Deeply Enriching And Spiritually Uplifting Assemblies At A Moment's Notice.'

The blurb says you can open it at any page and there will be an instant, engaging, interactive assembly that will leave your pupils breathless and on a spiritual high.

Let's have a look. Page 23.

Assembly No. 7. Suitable for key stages 1, 2, 3 and 4, those going through mid-life crisis, the elderly, members of the armed forces, and captive- bred dolphins.

Seems perfect.

Assembly objective: to rid the world of bad things and make it a better place for everyone.

Can't go wrong with this one.

You will need: a CD player, web-linked interactive whiteboard and visualiser, 52 ping pong balls, wooden dowling cut into 3cm lengths (about 35 will do), glue, a pair of identical twins and three heads of purple sprouting broccoli.

Hang on a minute.

Suggested musical introduction: `Gene Machine' by Oomsk Tordeark (1986 Fjord Records, Norway - deleted 1987).

Preparation: Three children will need to rehearse, in advance, the opening scene from Strindberg's `The Ghost Sonata' (1907) with particular reference to .

You get the picture.

Don't get me wrong. I like taking assemblies. They are an important time for the whole school to gather together, to think and reflect and to establish a common purpose. It's like the daily family meal together, central to the day.

But like many family meals, it can be very stressful. Your preparation, ingredients and presentation are being observed every morning by your staff. They will scrutinise whether you have planned and delivered it well and will always, without fail, feed back mistakes.

Then there's the problem of keeping it fresh. To come up with exciting new angles on the old chestnuts of respect, honesty, trust, and all the other holier-than-thou topics. Five days a week over 40 weeks.

And it's not as if there is much guidance. We know that assemblies should provide spiritual, moral and cultural development, but that's a pretty wide brief. And it's quite a responsibility when a cross is recognised as a symbol for the Xbox. But then, the responsibility on us being teachers as well as moral guardians and, dare I say, surrogate parents, weighs heavier on a daily basis.

Crikey, is that the time? I've got an assembly to prepare. I wonder if there's any broccoli in the fridge .

Colin Dowland, Headteacher of a junior school in north London.

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