To focus on why conflicts break out and what makes them so hard to stop. To reflect on current conflicts in the International and school communities.
by Gordon and Ronni Lamont
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To focus on why conflicts break out and what makes them so hard to stop. To reflect on current conflicts in international and school communities.
Preparation and materials
Note: This assembly requires preparation time in class to work on the drama.
- One group of children prepares a simple drama based on the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20.1--16). See Drama suggestions, below. Alternatively, present a story version of the parable of the workers. See below.
- (Optional) A second group prepares a drama showing a school-based problem, for example, a playground disagreement. See Drama suggestions.
- (Optional) Children could prepare a meditation on conflict or a recording of a radio news report on the suffering of refugees
1. Take suggestions from the children about areas in the world, or locally, where they are aware of conflict and war.
2. Illustrate with short drama prepared by one group: Parable of the workers in the vineyard.
Or: present an alternative story version.
It was going to be an exciting day. Kingdom Road School had won a big competition and today the prize was to be delivered.
In assembly, Mrs. Matthews told everyone that around lunchtime a huge lorry would be arriving with a fantastic collection of new PE equipment. There would be balls of all sizes and colours, new ropes, hoops, benches, goals, nets, sashes, four complete team kits and . . . so much that Kingdom Road would be the envy of every school in the country.
Mrs. Matthews was proud of the children; they had all worked so hard on the writing competition run by a big chain of Sports shops. The day that they heard they had won was wonderful -- and today promised to be even better. There was a big buzz about the whole school.
Just before lunchtime, right on time, a huge lorry pulled up outside the school gates. All the children had to stay inside while Jenny the lorry driver and her assistant Mark unloaded all the equipment into the playground. It looked so exciting; bright colours and interesting shapes -- and so much of it. So much of it! Mrs. Matthews felt that she had a problem on her hands. How was she going to get all that equipment sorted out and put away before the end of lunch time?
Mrs. Matthews got to work as soon as Jenny and Mark had finished, and all the papers had been signed and the lorry had been driven away. First she and some of the teachers used six new PE benches to make a barrier across the part of the playground where the new equipment was piled. Then she asked six children to help her during her lunchtime: 'They'll be two class credits each,' she said. The children were happy to help, if only to get a good look at the fantastic new equipment -- and to try it out just a little bit when Mrs. Matthews was looking elsewhere!
Everyone worked hard, but it soon became clear to Mrs. Matthews that the job wouldn't be finished by the end of lunchtime, there was just so much wonderful new PE equipment. So she asked six more children to help -- 'I'll give you a fair reward,' she said.
The pile of equipment was getting smaller, but there was still too much to do, so with about ten minutes to go, Mrs. Matthews asked another six children to help.
Right at the end of lunchtime, the job was finished. 'Well done everyone,’ said Mrs. Matthews. 'A fantastic effort. You all deserve your two class credits each.’ Then some of the children who'd been working all lunchtime -- the first ones to start helping -- started to complain. They said, 'We worked for nearly an hour; some of that lot only did ten minutes. Why should they get two credits the same as us?' Mrs. Matthews looked at everyone and said, 'I haven't cheated you -- you agreed the fair reward: two class credits. You don't lose out if I give everyone the same do you? Or are you jealous because other children are getting credits as well?'
No one said anything to Mrs. Matthews, but the argument continued all day in secret. There was even a fight at the end of the day, and no one could say what it was about. One thing everyone was agreed on: the day that Kingdom Street School received its prize didn't turn out to be such a happy day as everyone expected.
3. Talk about the drama (or story) -- why did the argument arise?
4. If you are including it, introduce the second drama, about an everyday school conflict. Freeze the drama at the point of greatest tension, just before fighting breaks out.
5. Ask for suggestions as to what should happen next, to avoid violence and move away from pointless arguing. Suggest that all violent conflicts, whether between individuals, groups or even countries, could be avoided. Set a task for individuals, small groups or classes to devise some rules to help people avoid conflict. Say you plan to display these ideas and talk about them at a later assembly.
Time for reflection
Play the radio news report about refugee suffering, or use the meditation prepared by the children. Alternatively use the following words:You make me cross,
I don't like what you said,
I don't like what you did,
I don't like you.
We're going to fight,
You won't like what I do,
You won't be able to stop me,
I am going to hurt you.
STOP. If you hurt me I'll hurt you.
STOP before it's too late.
STOP and think.
Think and STOP fighting before it's too late.
‘When I Needed a Neighbour’ (Come and Praise 65).
Workers in the vineyard
There are many ways of telling and exploring a story using drama and it is beyond the scope of this site to offer a full drama tutorial. Some brief pointers include:
In class, in advance of the assembly, ask the children to imagine themselves as one of the 'wronged' workers. One child takes the 'hot seat', the rest of the class ask them questions about what happened and how they feel about it. Develop this for the assembly by telling the story then asking a couple of children to 'speak their thoughts' about the situation.
In class, read the story in a modern translation and develop a simple mime involving the whole class. Use key emotions as triggers for effective mime -- keen to be working, getting tired, looking forward to being paid, anger at the amount paid, puzzled at how the payment decisions are reached. Rehearse and develop this as a performance for the assembly.
In class, break the story up into a number of still pictures, like photographs. You could use emotions as above for the key moments. Rehearse and develop these for the assembly, either as a whole class or with small groups taking different parts of the story.
There is much potential here for unfocused and messy drama that quickly degenerates into actual conflict!
One route through this is to talk with the class about the stages of conflict and disagreements in school, for example, disagreement, tension, argument, trouble. Then ask the children to work in small groups to devise a short, clear scene that shows these in action. They could use still pictures (see above) to start and end each section, or just use still pictures with a narrator. For example:
Picture one: It was an ordinary day and we were all playing happily until Glyn wanted to change the game.
Picture two: Some people sided with Glyn and some didn't and the game was not so happy.
Picture three: A big argument broke out.
Picture four: And before we knew it, we had a fight on our hands.
English speaking and listening.