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Don't be fooled: don't be afraid to say what you see

To encourage the children not to be influenced by others who are not telling the truth.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To encourage the children not to be influenced by others who are not telling the truth.

Preparation and materials

  • No materials are needed, although an OHP would be useful if you want the children to join in with the poem.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to listen carefully to this poem. Pause between each line to allow for better understanding.

    Don’t be fooled
    Sometimes when we look, do we really see?
    People see you and people see me.
    If someone says that black is white
    Don’t just agree, but use your sight.
    Don’t say what you think they want you to,
    Because it feels like the thing to do.
    Learn to say what’s in your mind
    And by doing so the truth you’ll find.
  2. Sometimes when we are asked for our opinions, do we say what we really think or are we influenced by other people? We might be afraid of losing our friends if we disagree, or being made to feel silly. (Further discussion could be developed here.)

    There may also be times when we are asked to do something that we do not feel comfortable with. Deep down we know it is not right. We should try not to give in to temptation, and if something does not feel right, do not do it.
  3. This story is based on one by Hans Christian Andersen and it shows what happened to a man who did not think for himself.

    The emperor’s new clothes
    There was once an emperor who liked to think he could please all his people all of the time. He was so powerful that no one dared to argue with him. He was very vain and loved to have lots of new clothes.

    Knowing this, two tricksters came to his palace pretending to be tailors. They asked to see the emperor, and offered to make him a suit of fine new clothes for his birthday procession.

    The emperor was delighted and asked to see the cloth from which the suit would be made. The tricksters pretended to roll out some cloth, saying that it was the finest in all the land. ‘Look at the colour’, they said. ‘See how it shimmers and shines in the light! It is so special that it can only be seen by those who are wise and clever.’

    The emperor stared and stared, trying to see what they were talking about. He could see nothing, but not wishing to appear stupid he found he was agreeing with them and consented to let them make his suit.

    After several days they returned to the palace pretending to carry a large parcel, from which they took out the ‘new suit’. ‘Try it on, your majesty,’ they said. The emperor undressed and the tricksters pretended to fit his new garment. ‘See how fine it looks,’ they said. Again the emperor felt he had to agree with them. He paid them a great deal of money for their services and the two men left the palace in great haste.

    The day of the procession came and the emperor, with the help of his servants, who dared not say that they could not see his new clothes, put on his new suit. He asked them what they thought of it and everyone told him how wonderful he looked because they did not want to make him angry.

    Proudly the emperor strode through the streets of the city. The people cheered and clapped as he went by. As he entered the marketplace he passed a small boy who was begging. The boy was overheard to say, ‘Why is the emperor wearing only his underclothes?’

    There was a deadly hush as the people wondered what would happen. ‘Bring that boy to me!’ bellowed the emperor. The servants quickly grabbed the poor unfortunate boy and brought him before the emperor. Everyone gasped in horror. What would happen?

    The emperor looked down at the poor trembling figure before him. ‘What did you say?’

    ‘Please, sir,’ said the frightened boy, ‘I wondered why you were only wearing your underclothes.’

    The emperor looked down at himself and began to laugh. ‘You have dared to speak the truth and say what you can actually see. I must admit that I have been very foolish and it took a small boy like you to be brave enough to tell me. I have been tricked and only you spoke the truth. In future you will live in my palace. I shall ask for your honest opinions, knowing that I will always be able to trust you.’

    Realizing his stupidity, the emperor ordered that the tricksters should be caught and thrown into prison. From then on he always thought for himself and was not influenced by what he thought others might think of him. And as that boy grew up, he became the emperor’s chief adviser and no one dared try to deceive the emperor again.
  4. Further discussion could be developed here to make sure the children understand the message conveyed.

Time for reflection

Prayer

We thank you, God, for giving us a mind of our own.

Teach us to use it wisely and help us to think for ourselves.

Teach us to know right from wrong and to speak the truth at all times.

Amen.

Song/music

‘He gave me eyes so I could see’ (Come and Praise, 18)

Publication date: February 2009   (Vol.11 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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