The Blind Leading the Blind
To appreciate how sayings from the Bible are in everyday use and explore the relevance of this saying today
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To appreciate how sayings from the Bible are in everyday use and explore the relevance of this saying today.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a collection of fiction books that will be found in most school or class libraries. Use the following list, or substitute/add other titles of your choice: The Famous Five; Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; James and the Giant Peach; The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe; The Little Princess; The Lost World; Vet in a Spin.
- Note: This phrase has been used by disability awareness experts in connection with negative views of people with disabilities, so please bear this in mind if there are visually impaired children present. We are stressing the historical context of a saying that children are likely to be familiar with, and the underlying message is an important one.
- Explain that the expression 'the blind leading the blind' is used where people who don't know what they are doing manage to persuade other people that they do, and then lead the others into doing something foolish. Stress that it is not meant to imply that people who have difficulty seeing or are blind are themselves foolish. One way to explain would be to suggest that a blind person wouldn't want their guide dog also to be blind. This saying came from a story that Jesus told about the religious teachers of his day who were misleading people.
- Tell the following story: Brian was always keen to volunteer for jobs at school, as he thought he had great ideas and understood everything. He had begun to gain a reputation as someone not to choose as a volunteer. After all, it was Brian who volunteered to repair the computer printer and it had never worked since. He also had the great idea of sawing the new wood for Design Technology into 5-cm pieces so that it would all fit into into a small plastic box: 'But Miss, look how tidy it is now!'
Today Miss Smith needed someone to sort out the books in the class library. Naturally Brian was the first to volunteer. Miss Smith hesitated but then thought that nothing could possibly go wrong!
At lunchtime Brian gathered three of his friends to help him organize the class library. First of all Brian took them to the main library to see how the books were organized there. Lots of the books had decimal numbers on them - that looked a bit complicated. Others seemed to be in alphabetical order, but as this was based on authors' names they thought this was a poor idea: 'We don't know any authors' names, do we?' remarked Brian.
So Brian had a great idea. They would put all the books in groups - like subjects in class. They would make labels for all their school subjects and put the books in the section they obviously belonged to. So they made labels for Maths, English, Science, PE, History, Geography, RE, Technology, ICT, Art, PSHE.
They cleared the shelves, put up the labels and picked up the first book and began to discuss where to put it: The Famous Five (hold up the book).
'Well, this is easy,' said Brian. 'It's got a five in it so it must be Maths.'
The next book they picked up was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. 'I don't know what that long word means,' said Brian. 'We'll just ignore it.'
'Well, it says, "Stone",' said one of the others, 'so it must be about Geography.'
'No, of course not!' interrupted Brian. 'Look it says "potter", and a potter makes pots. And it's got stone in it because he must make stone pots. It goes under Art. See, it's easy!'
The next book they picked up was James and the Giant Peach. 'This is easy, we did this in Science last week,' said Brian. 'Do you remember that Miss Smith said we should have five portions of fruit and vegetables every day? This is a book about how James only needed one portion because it was a giant peach. It goes under Science!'
They found they had three copies of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lions were animals so that was Science, witches must be RE and wardrobes are made from wood and so must be Technology. 'We'll put one in each section,' declared Brian triumphantly.
And so The Little Princess was History as kings and queens had princesses. The Lost World was put in the Geography section and Vet in a Spin couldn't be anything else than PE.
They were very proud of their work. When the teacher came to see what they had done they explained it to her. Her eyes slowly widened as she realized what they had done. She reached for a book: The Secret Seven, in the Maths section.
'Why have you put Alice in Wonderland under Geography, Brian?' asked Miss Smith.
'Well there's Greenland, Iceland and Finland, Miss, so this is a book about a country called Wonderland!' explained Brian, wondering why Miss looked so horrified.
In exasperation the teacher let out a scream and pulled her hair. 'This is the blind leading the blind! Take all the books off the shelves. We'll have to start all over again.'
- Suggest that we should learn in life to listen to those who know what they are talking about because they have experience and wisdom. We should think twice before accepting the advice of people who want us to believe they are clever - just because people are good at talking it doesn't mean they know what they are talking about!.
Time for reflection
Thank you for all the people in our lives who are wise
and do know what they are talking about -
adults and children, people close to us, and famous people.
Help us to choose our friends carefully
and to listen to those who are wise and experienced,
especially when we are not sure about something ourselves.
'Carpenter, carpenter' (Come and Praise, 5)