Don't be afraid to ask!
by Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Key Stage 1/2
To promote a spirit of enquiry and encourage confidence about asking questions.
Preparation and materials
- Prepare yourself and a colleague for the introductory role-play in Step 1 and familiarize yourself with the story in Step 2.
- On the day of the assembly, wear clothes that go with either a tie or scarf, but do not wear either of these items.
- The prayer in the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly could be presented by a number of voices.
- Begin with some fun by saying dramatically that you are very proud to lead the assembly and have the opportunity to show everyone your ‘Wise Man Tie’/’Wise Lady Scarf’. Pretend you are wearing it and adjust this imaginary item of clothing as you describe how the person you bought it from said, ‘Only wise people can really appreciate this tie/scarf – foolish people just can’t see it.’
Invite the ‘wise’ colleague you prepared the role-paly with to admire the colours and feel the quality of the supposed material.
Ask the children if they admire your new item of clothing. Respond to any perplexity by observing, ‘Perhaps you’re asking yourselves, “What tie/scarf?”’
- Explain that the theme of the assembly is ‘Don’t be afraid to ask’. Observe that sometimes people (both young and old) are scared to ask questions. They fear other people will think them foolish or stupid. Illustrate this by telling the following story with some drama and humour.
The King’s new clothes
The King loved new clothes. He wore them very proudly – and he wore only the best!
One day, two men pretending to be tailors called at his palace. Actually, they wanted to cheat the King. ‘Your Majesty’, they declared, bowing low. ‘We make clothes with the very best of cloth. It’s so light and fine that it appears invisible! In our experience’, the men continued, handling the ‘cloth’, ‘some people are so stupid that they can’t see it!’
‘Of course! Quite right’, said the King, who struggled to see anything, but didn’t want to appear stupid. ‘What marvellous colours! How exciting! Would I like a suit making? Yes! Start straight away.’ He paid the men a large sum of money and gave them a room in which to begin work.
The next day, the King asked his Prime Minister to go and see how the suit was coming on. ‘The cloth is very special,’ he explained, ‘only wise people can see it.’
The Prime Minister watched the ‘tailors’ moving scissors through the air and busily using needles. He couldn’t see anything, but he said nothing. He didn’t want to appear stupid! The Prime Minister returned and told the King that his new suit was looking . . . like no other suit he’d ever seen.
Finally, the new suit was ready. The tailors helped the King to try it on, brushed it down and remarked that it fitted really well. Indeed, they felt it was so light the King would hardly know he’d got it on. ‘Indeed’, agreed the King. He still couldn’t see the suit, but didn’t want to appear foolish. ‘Will you wear it at tomorrow’s parade?’ the tailors asked. ‘Certainly!’ the King replied.
News of the King’s new clothes quickly spread. People told one another, ‘Only wise and clever people can see this suit. If you can’t, you’re stupid!’
So it was that the King paraded in front of a great crowd. The people all thought it incredible that the King was only in his vest and boxer shorts, but no one said anything. No one wanted to look stupid!
Then a young child asked loudly, ‘Why is the King in his vest and boxer shorts?’ Gradually others began to say, ‘That’s a good question. Why is the King in his vest and boxer shorts?’ Soon the message was being whispered from one person to another, ‘The King’s not got dressed!’
The King’s face turned very red. He realized the truth, but would he ever admit that he wasn’t wearing the finest of suits? After all, he didn’t want to appear stupid!
- Invite the children to reflect on the story. Ask them, ‘What does the story tell us about asking questions?’
In discussion, establish that:
– asking questions makes us more aware and keeps us safe
– asking questions is the way that we learn about others, the world around us and faith in God
– we shouldn’t be afraid to ask a question
– to ask a question doesn’t mean we are slow or stupid
– wise people ask questions.
Observe that, for all these reasons, no one should ever hesitate to ask a question. Sometimes a question may be the very one that everyone else is afraid to ask. Church schools might reflect on the thought that, as a good teacher, Jesus encouraged people to ask questions and find answers.
- Remind the children that answers to questions can be found in books, on appropriate Internet sites, by having conversations with friends and parents, as well as responsible adults in school.
Conclude by observing that each day’s quest for learning involves asking questions. Ask, ‘Who will be wise enough to ask some good questions today?’
Time for reflection
Thank you for the joy of discovery.
Thank you that asking questions is fun!
Where . . . ? What . . . ? Why . . . ? When . . . ? How . . . ?
Help us to learn and make us wise!
‘Living and learning’ (Songs for EVERY Assembly,Out of the Ark Music)
‘Who put the colours in the rainbow?’ (Come and Praise,12)