Lifestyles: the Way to Do It
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools
To consider the importance of thinking about other people in our lives.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and two readers, who will need time to practise prior to the assembly.
- Optional: you may wish to use the song ‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra or another artist, in which case you will also need the means to play it during the assembly. A YouTube video of Frank Sinatra’s version is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SXWX6qg0y4 and is 3.24 minutes long.
Leader: We all have different ways of living our lives. Although we wear similar clothes and have similar interests, we like different groups, sports and food. Our homes are different and we approach life in different ways.
Reader 1: Alan Bennett is a Yorkshire man who was brought up in Leeds in the 1940s and 1950s. He made his name as a writer in the 1960s and is regarded by many as a national treasure. Here, he writes about his family lifestyle.
‘Every family has a secret and the secret is really that it is not like other families. If only people knew what we were really like, my mother thought - her not getting up until ten in the morning and none of us sitting down to a proper breakfast - they’d have nothing to do with us. We pretend we’re normal, but it is only a matter of time before folks find out what we’re like.
‘Find out what?’ I ask her grave.
Find out, I suppose, that Dad sleeps in his shirt and Mam in his old pyjama jacket, find out that most meals end with a piece of cake, find out Mam keeps her teeth in a cup without a handle and Dad doesn’t keep his in anything at all. Such creatures are not fit for polite society. Who could imagine such people? Who would want to know them?’ (Telling Tales, BBC Books, 2000)
Reader 2: Our families are all unique. They can drive us mad sometimes, but we have to fit in with the other people we live with. You might think, ‘Everybody is odd except me!’ Just like Alan Bennett’s family, I’m sure we can all think of some odd things about members of our family that they would like to be kept quiet!
We have to learn to rub along. We can probably all think of things that we do because someone in our family insists that we do it. We can probably all think of things that we do that might well annoy some of our family, too!
Leader: This anonymous poem was included in a collection of poems called Rainbows through Clouds, written in aid of the children’s charity, Rainbow Trust.
When you get what you want
In your struggle for self,
And the world makes you king for a day;
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,
Whose judgement upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict
counts most in your life,
Is the one staring back from the glass.
You may fool the whole world
down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass;
But your final reward
Will be heartache and tears,
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
Reader 1: We can do what we like, we can fool other people some of the time, but we can’t fool ourselves: that seems to be the message of the poem. Our lifestyle has to fit around the people and friends we share our lives with. However, as the poem says, we can never really fool ourselves.
Time for reflection
Reader 2: Let’s just think for a moment about the times when doing it ‘our way’ has had consequences for others. Let’s reflect on one positive experience and one unfortunate one. Let’s make the effort to develop how we can learn to be individuals, doing it our way, while still being part of our family and friendship groupings.
‘My way’ by Frank Sinatra or another artist. Frank Sinatra’s version is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SXWX6qg0y4 and is 3.24 minutes long.