Getting in Gear
Finding the right gear in our lives
by Gordon Lamont (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider our own working pace and stamina.
Preparation and materials
- If possible, bring a bike into school or borrow one from a student. This assembly works well if someone can ride the bike into the room at the start of the assembly.
- You may wish to link this assembly to ‘Keep On Pedalling’, an assembly about the history of the bicycle. It is available at: http://www.assemblies.org.uk/sec/2893/keep-on-pedalling
- If possible, enter the room on the bike (or arrange for a student to do so), and then ride it around the space for a short time. Wear a helmet and any other cycling gear you have.
- Ask the students the following questions about cycling.
– How many of you have bikes?
– How many of you use your bike regularly?
– What do you use your bike for: practical things like getting to school, leisure cycling, racing, dirt-track cycling or trick cycling?
– Do your bikes have gears? If so, how do you use the gears in different conditions, such as going up or down hills, riding into the wind and building up speed on the flat?
- Suggest that the gear we choose when riding a bike and the speed at which we travel are affected by several things.
– How fast we want to go.
– The condition of the road or track (bumpy roads slow you down, smooth roads can be faster).
– How energetic we feel.
– The weather. Wind behind you can speed you up, whereas cycling into the wind can slow you down. Rain might make you want to go faster to get the journey over with, or slow you down if it’s in your face. A sunny day might lift your mood so that you speed along, or it might lead you to go slowly to enjoy the warmth.
- Suggest that most cyclists instinctively know how much effort to put in at any time to balance all these factors. They know that there’s just the right gear for any conditions and, when they find it, they will cycle quite happily until conditions change and they need a new gear.
- Explain that in a sense, our lives involve gears. When we are working on something – a sport, a hobby, schoolwork, exam revision and so on – there are times when we have to speed up our effort, slow down, reassess the situation and make decisions about pace and relaxation.
Getting to know our own best way of working at any time is the key to success.
Time for reflection
Encourage the students to think about a situation that they are involved with at the moment, such as schoolwork, a job or a sport. Ask them to think about the following questions, pausing for thought after each one.
– What is the best gear for now: flat out in top gear or a gentle start in a low gear?
– If I’m going to get to where I need to be, I will need to put on some pace at some point: am I changing up a gear yet?
– When I find that the work is hard, do I know when to change down and put in even more effort over a longer period?
– Do I have the stamina I need for this journey? If not, when am I going to start building it up?
Cycling can be hard work at times, but it is also enjoyable.
Understanding our own best working pace and where we are on the journey can help to make any work more satisfying – and successful.
‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Come and Praise, 52)