When this term started, most of you who go to school met together in one room for an official talk by your head teachers. This is called assembly. What makes assembly in British schools different from Polish ones is that in Britain this usually happens every day.
In most schools everyone in their academic year meets together after the register has been taken. One reason for getting all the year together is so that the school can give daily announcements. However, most of it is something else and important messages normally take only half a minute. The main idea is for some form of moral guidance.
Every day a different teacher will ‘take assembly’. Their instructions are simply to tell the group something about life (normally their own) that is important to the children. I’m not talking about primary school here. It takes place in secondary schools all the way up to the last year at school (in my day it was called ‘Upper Sixth’). One of my teachers, who was blind, told us about the day the doctor told his mother that her son couldn’t see. Another told us of a badly planned boat trip with a friend that he organised in his younger years to try and attract a couple of women in a pub. Another told us about the dangers of being too legalistic about your rights with a funny story from Cambridge university.
Then there were presentations on the different subjects people could choose to take for their GCSEs. These are the first public exams people take in Britain, at the age of sixteen. Sometimes a representative from a charity would give a talk about the work they did. Sometimes a group of children from another year group or from one of the classes in the year would do something (usually funny and usually copied from a television programme).
However, there is one thing most people remember about them: The God Squad.
It seems that school assemblies are the only time in a school when people are allowed to talk about religious ideas as if they were fact. There are religious education classes (RE) in schools, but they teach it as ‘something people believe’ rather than ‘something that is true’. This makes it controversial but most schoolchildren are not bothered about controversy. It’s just that most schoolchildren don’t like religious assemblies. In my last year at school, one of the maths teachers gave assembly on the topic of why he was an atheist. It made an interesting change, and he gave everyone a simple game to play in the next assembly led by a group of missionaries or evangelists.
Here are the rules: You need a watch which shows the seconds (a stopwatch isn’t a good idea because the teachers can all hear a hundred electronic beeps going off together). Start counting the seconds from the moment the visiting presenter starts speaking. See how long he or she can go before saying ‘And that’s a bit like Jesus’, or similar words.
Personally I know what I would put in a five-minute address to a group of schoolchildren in Britain. Like the maths teacher I mentioned I am an atheist. However, I have a theology degree as well, so my talk would be a little different...
Did you know?
The British government has just past laws about the quality of school dinners. One change is that burgers and other fatty foods can only be sold twice a week.
polecane: Pierwszy Polak połknął elektroniczną pigułkę