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10 in 2010

To help students appreciate the significance of the new decade by reflecting on the number 10 in everyday life and in the Bible, considering what the Ten Commandments mean for us today.

by Tim Scott

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To help students appreciate the significance of the new decade by reflecting on the number 10 in everyday life and in the Bible, considering what the Ten Commandments mean for us today.

Preparation and materials

  • A birthday card for a 10 year old and a picture of 10 Downing Street.
  • A tennis racket, a 10p piece and a £10 note, and some weighing scales.
  • A Bible – the Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20.2–17 and Deuteronomy 5.6–21.
  • A good version of the Ten Commandments can be found at
  • For background reading on the relevance of the Ten Commandments today, I recommend Just 10 by J. John (published by the Philo Trust).


  1. As we start this new decade – the 21st century is just 10 years old (show birthday card) – it’s good to take some time (10 minutes) to think about what’s happened in the last 10 years and where we might be at the end of the next 10 years: what we will have achieved, what sort of person we’ll be like, where we’ll be living and what we’ll probably be doing. But first, let’s think about the number 10.
  2. Number 10 Downing Street is where the Prime Minister lives. This year there will be a general election and possibly a new Prime Minister in Number 10. Who that person will be is down to the free choice of everyone registered to vote. We live in a democracy and if you are over 18, as all of you will be by the end of the next decade, you will have the right to vote for your local MP. What kind of country would you like Britain to be in 10 years’ time? By voting, you can make your voice heard and help shape the types of national values and policies that will affect all our lives. Let me encourage you to be a voter when the opportunity comes.
  3. Everyone here (probably) is fortunate enough to have 10 fingers and 10 toes! When a baby is born, it’s one of the first things that the midwife checks. Sometimes babies have operations to get rid of an extra digit on their hands or feet.
  4. Will the football team you support be in the top 10 teams in the league this year? You may think this is a bit random, but here is a Ten-nis racket! This year as every year the Wimbledon Tennis tournament will take place. Will Andy stay in the top 10 players in the world? If he does, he’ll continue to earn tens of £1,000s.
  5. Talking of money, did you know that in this country, we’ve only had decimal currency since 1971 (until then there were pounds, shillings and pence – 12d (pennies) to a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound)? Decimal currency is the term used to describe any currency for which the ratio between basic units of currency is to the power of 10. In the UK £1 has 100 sub-units (pence). And 10p x 10 = £1, so 100 of these (10p piece) and you have one of these (£10 note). Today, the only currencies that are not decimal are those that have no sub-units at all, except for (a) the Mauritanian ouguiya (1 ouguiya = 5 khoum), and (b) the ariary of Madagascar (1 ariary = 5 iraimbilaja).
  6. Now I’m going to talk about a different type of pounds. Show the weighing scales. Say that after being tempted to eat more than you should over the winter, you hope you aren’t over 10(?) stone and you may have to lose some weight for the summer. Explain that most people still think about their weight in stones rather than in kilos (decimal) – but that might be changing. Ask for a show of hands as to who thinks in stones and pounds and who in kilograms.
  7. Teachers often set tests with 10 questions. Some students score 10 out of 10. When talking about other people, our opinion might be a score out of 10. Some people even think of God scoring us out of 10 depending on how we behave.

    Ask who has heard of the Ten Commandments? Does anyone know what they are and can they name any of them? (The full list can be found in Exodus 20.2–17 and Deuteronomy 5.6–21.)

    The Ten Commandments are a list of rules that were given to the people of God thousands of years ago. They show what an ideal society would be like and how people should treat one another on this Earth. They are still relevant and powerful today. For many nations, including Britain, they remain the basis for statutory law and national values.

Time for reflection

Read out the Ten Commandments. Let the students ponder the commandments for a few moments, and think about which ones they find it hardest to understand, and then the ones they find it hardest to obey.

As we think about these commandments, think about one that you will try and keep today, perhaps one that you find difficult to keep. Think about situations where it might be hard to keep that commandment, and plan a strategy to help you keep it.


‘Who would true valour see’ (Come and Praise, 44)

Publication date: April 2010   (Vol.12 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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