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Who Started It?

To investigate patience, understanding, tolerance, caring

by Gill O'Neill

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To investigate patience, understanding, tolerance and caring.

Preparation and materials

  • Read the poem beforehand, possibly preparing two children to mime it.

Assembly

  1. Introduce the assembly by saying that you've been thinking hard about the way a misunderstanding can lead to something more serious, and how difficult it can be to sort the situation out when things do go wrong. Then read the poem below, possibly with two children acting it out.

    Kate said that I was strange,
    So I called her a nasty name.
    She said that I never washed at all,
    I said it to her the same.

    Kate said bad words 'bout my mother,
    I said I didn't care,
    At least I didn't have a brother
    Like hers, with the funny hair!

    And that was when she slapped me,
    Right across the face.
    So I slapped her right back you see,
    Well, I was with my mates.

    So then she went and kicked me,
    And I kicked her in turn,
    And then she thumped me rather hard,
    So I punched her in the arm.

    And then she pulled my hair quite hard,
    It made me want to cry,
    But I was tough, too tough for her,
    So I poked her in the eye.

    And even though she was crying,
    She scratched me on the cheek,
    So I scratched her so very hard
    Until she started to bleed.

    So now you see, Miss, that was that,
    She didn't need to fall.
    And it wasn't me who started it,
    It was her, after all.

  2. Ask the children who they think was responsible for the fight that was described. Many will say it was the other girl (Kate).

    Go on to explain that although the poem seems to have ended, there is actually a doxology (an end bit) spoken by the teacher who wrote this poem.

    It doesn't matter who started it,
    You're both in the wrong, I'm sure,
    And if you'd taken a bit more time,
    You might have found out more.

    If you'd listened more closely to what Kate said
    When she talked about being 'strange',
    You always get covered in paint during art,
    She only asked if you'd 'change'.

  3. Now explain that the teacher in the last two verses of the poem had already heard Kate's version of what had happened. Kate had asked if the first girl would change before art, but had been mis-heard. Then she'd pointed out that the other girl always gets in a mess, which means she'll need to wash.

    Ask the children who they now think was to blame for the fight. They may suggest that it was the fault of the girl who was 'speaking' in the poem.

    Point out that both children acted in an unacceptable manner, regardless of who was the first to initiate the incident.

    Encourage the children to think about a time when they have over-reacted about something, or mis-interpreted a comment that's been said and got upset.

  4. Perhaps ask the children what they think should happen next. Emphasize any responses that suggest that the girls need time to think about what they've done, and perhaps time to make up.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to close their eyes:

Think back to a time when you've lost your temper too quickly.
Think of a time when you've misunderstood what someone was trying to tell you.
Think of a time when you've got upset over something that wasn't important.
How can you avoid reacting like this?
Take a moment in the quietness to ask for patience, tolerance and understanding
so that you can keep a cool head in a tricky situation.

Song/music

'Make me a channel of your peace' (Come and Praise, 147)

Publication date: December 2003   (Vol.5 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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