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Lots of Choices

How do we make important decisions?

by Helen Redfern (revised, originally published in 2010)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To encourage us to take a healthy approach to making choices.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and three readers.

  • You will also need a selection of chocolate bars, although keep in mind your school’s allergy policy.

Assembly

Leader: This assembly is all about choice. We all make choices every day, some important, some less so. Sometimes, we are even unaware that we are making a choice.

Invite a volunteer to the front and explain that they are going to be given some choices to make. Ask the volunteer to make a snap decision for each choice, rather than taking time to think about it.

–  Swimming or jogging?
–  Chocolate or sweets?
–  Vans or Converse?
–  Coke or lemonade?
–  Black or white?
–  Cereal or toast?
–  Saturday or Sunday?
–  Football or rugby?
–  French or German?

Sometimes, as in the examples we’ve just been given, we’re faced with a straight choice. In that scenario, it’s usually easy enough to decide. At other times, we’re faced with multiple choices, and it can then be much harder to reach a decision.

Tip the chocolate bars out on to a table and ask for some volunteers. (You will probably get a lot!) Ask the first volunteer to choose a chocolate bar. You may wish to point out some of the characteristics of the chocolate to make the decision more difficult, such as, ‘This is the biggest, this is my favourite . . .’ and so on.

Alternatively, you could say something like, ‘Ooh, this is a big decision. You don’t want to make the wrong choice. But what about this one? Are you sure? Are you really sure? You don’t want to regret it and wish you’d chosen something else.’

Ask the other volunteers to choose a chocolate bar. The decision should get easier as fewer chocolate bars are left.

Sometimes, there’s too much choice, too many people offering conflicting advice. We don’t know where to turn. We don’t know how to decide. We are afraid of making the wrong choice.

We are now going to hear about three individuals who are faced with important choices. Each is given advice from parents, friends or teachers.

Decide to what extent you think they should listen to the advice that is given.

Reader 1: My name is Christina and I’m 17. When I was little, it was simple. My parents made all my decisions for me. They chose when to put me to bed, what I wore and what I was allowed or not allowed to eat. I had no choice at all. As I got older, I started to make my own choices. I chose what to watch on TV and who to play with at breaktime. When I moved to secondary school, I had the freedom to choose my friends, my interests and the music I listened to. I thought I could choose whatever I wanted.

But now the choice I face is huge, and I don’t know what to do. I have to choose whether to stay in education, get an apprenticeship or get a job. Suddenly, I have to make a choice that’s crucial: it will affect the rest of my life. My parents want to make this choice for me. They don’t think I’m ready to leave school. They want me to go to university.

I’m not so sure. I’m sick of revising and I want a change. This is my decision, right? It’s my life and I can do what I want. The thing is, though, I’m not completely sure what I do want. What do you think I should do?

Leader: So, what do you think Christina should do? How many of you think she should listen to her parents and stay in education? Ask for a show of hands. How many of you think she should get a job? Ask for a show of hands again. And how many of you are not sure? Ask for a show of hands again.

Reader 2: I’m Jacob and I’ve just turned 17. I got £200 for my birthday from my mum and my granddad to pay for driving lessons. I’ve been excited about learning to drive for months, but now I’m not so sure. My friends are all going to a rock festival, you see, and they want me to go with them. I want to go, too, of course, but I can’t afford it. My friends say I should use my birthday money. They reckon that the rock festival will be way more fun than driving lessons. They’ve suggested that I could save up for driving lessons and take them after Christmas instead.

I really don’t know what to do. Technically, it’s my money and I can do what I want with it, but I know that my mum and granddad will be really upset about it. I don’t want to do that to them. Then again, if I don’t go to the festival, my friends will be annoyed with me, too. I don’t like the idea of them having fun without me. Aaargh! What am I going to do?

Leader: So, what do you think Jacob should do? How many of you think he should listen to his friends and spend the money on the rock festival? Ask for a show of hands. How many of you think he should spend the money on driving lessons? Ask for a show of hands again. And how many of you are not sure? Ask for a show of hands again.

Reader 3: I’m Chanelle and I’m 18. I’m studying for my A levels and I work in a cool shoe shop at the weekends. I love my work and the pay is good. In fact, recently, I’ve been working several afternoons after school during the week, too. I don’t like to say no and I love being there and having lots of money to spend. Yesterday, though, my English teacher asked me to stay behind after class. She told me that she thinks my work is suffering from all the hours I’m putting in at work. She’s worried about me because she knows I’ve applied to uni and she thinks I may not get the grades I need. She’s suggesting that I do fewer hours at work until after my exams.

I don’t know what to do. I know my last few pieces of work haven’t been great, but maybe she’s overreacting. Perhaps I could just study a bit harder. Teachers always think schoolwork is more important than everything else. They want you to sit in your room studying all the time and not have a life. But what if she’s right? What if I don’t get into uni? What will I do then? I don’t know what to do. Help me!

Leader: So, what do you think Chanelle should do? How many of you think she should listen to her teacher and reduce her hours at work? Ask for a show of hands. How many of you think she should carry on as she is? Ask for a show of hands again. And how many of you are not sure? Ask for a show of hands again.

Young people have difficult choices to make. I suspect many of you have faced choices similar to those faced by these three individuals. As we have seen by our show of hands, opinion is divided about the right choice to make. There is often no clear right or wrong, no definitive answer.

It is right to listen to the advice of parents, friends and teachers. They care about us. They want the best for us. They have valuable experience to share with us. It is also right to consider all the options. Taking time to reflect is important. However, in the end, it’s up to you. It’s your life; it’s your choice.

Time for reflection

I hope that you choose honestly and that you are self-aware enough to know what will be best for you. I hope that you choose decisively and move forward positively with no regrets. I hope that you choose wisely and make the best of the choice that you have made. I hope that you know deep down that you have made the right choice for you.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on all that we have heard in this assembly today.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Prayer
Dear God,
We thank you that we have the freedom to make choices.
We thank you for our parents, friends and teachers, who can help us in our choices.
We are sorry for the times when we have made the wrong choice.
Help us to choose honestly and examine our hearts.
Help us to choose decisively and not look back with regret.
Help us to choose wisely and make the right choice.
Amen.

Publication date: April 2018   (Vol.20 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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