An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To look at the benefits of school reports and how this links with Jesus’ approach as a teacher and leader.
Preparation and materials
- Gather some of your own and other teachers’ old school reports, choosing extracts from your own to share and prepare quotes from those of your colleagues that reflect their characters, such that the children can guess which teacher each quote is about.
- Familiarize yourself with the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14.22–36.
1. Begin by telling the children that in schools all over the country, teachers are busy writing reports. Describe your feelings as a child concerning school reports.
Read out the extracts from one of your old school reports that you’ve chosen to share.
2. Note that, in previous decades, school reports were much shorter than they are today, but they could be very wounding.
3. Read out the quotes you’ve chosen from the school reports of some of the teachers.
Ask the children, ‘Can you guess the identity of the teachers who received these reports?’
4. Go on to explain that Jesus didn't write reports on his apostles, but, before they joined him, each of them had probably had a terrible school report.
We can assume this is because, in Jesus' time, all boys would have gone to school to study the Torah, the Jewish holy scriptures, but, at certain ages, the weaker students would have been encouraged to leave school and find full-time work. Only the best students would have been advised to continue with their studies and then only the very best, most intelligent and talented students would have eventually become teachers or rabbis.
5. Unlike his apostles, Jesus was obviously an excellent student. In the only story about Jesus' childhood in the Bible, he is in the Temple in Jerusalem, amazing the best teachers in the country with his understanding of the Torah. When he grew up, he quickly became famous as a rabbi who taught people to think differently about God.
6. How must the disciples have felt, then, when this famous rabbi asked them to study with him? Other rabbis had told them they were not clever enough. They had been excluded from school, written off, sent out to work, but, now, Jesus was showing that he, for one, believed in them. It's hardly surprising, then that, according to the Bible, all of the apostles left their jobs immediately and took up Jesus' offer to study with him.
7. In the three years that they spent with Jesus, the apostles saw him do many incredible things, but even more incredible was Jesus' belief that not only could they do what he did but, in time, they would do even better. The apostles struggled to believe in themselves as much as Jesus did.
8. A famous story that illustrates this point can be found in Matthew’s Gospel.
Tell the children the story of Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14.22–36.
9. When Jesus said to Peter, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ who was he accusing Peter of doubting?
10. Peter didn't doubt Jesus because, when he became scared, he cried out to Jesus to help him. Instead, Peter doubted himself. He doubted his own ability to do what Jesus told him to do. Jesus believed in Peter, but Peter did not believe in himself.
11. Invite the children to reflect silently on their own levels of self-belief. Do they believe in themselves as much as their teachers and others do or are they like Peter?
Time for reflection
With Jesus' help, Peter learned to believe in himself. On the day of Pentecost, Peter – the fisherman, the student who had been ejected from school – delivered one of the greatest speeches ever recorded in the Bible. As a result of Peter's speech, around 3,000 people began to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. In that one speech, Peter had convinced more people of this truth than Jesus himself had done in three years.
So, Jesus had been right. The apostles, including Peter, were capable of doing greater things than he had done.
At the end of term some of you will be getting excellent reports while others’ reports will not be so good. A critical report should not cause you to lose confidence in yourself, though. Rather, you should look on it as a way to help you improve.
We thank you for loving us as much as you do.
Help us to see ourselves as you see us.
When people criticize us, help us to not lose belief in ourselves but have confidence that, with your help, we can always do better.
Help us to remember the example of Peter, who overcame his own doubts and fears to become one of the most famous Christians in history.
'There is no one else like you' (Kidsource (Kevin Mayhew), 325, 1999 edition)
'O Lord, all the world belongs to You' (Come and Praise, 39)