Dare to Be Different
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To challenge the idea that our clothes are what convey an image of who we really are.
Preparation and materials
- To give this assembly maximum impact, it is best if you can find two or three people who are prepared to wear the uniform of an organization to which they belong or the uniform of some profession or other job, plus someone dressed in the latest fashion.
- If this is not possible, have available some images of nurses, soldiers and others who have a strong image. It is also useful to have available images of well-known celebrities. If you use these images, you will also need the means to display them.
- We all have an ‘image’, whether we like it or not. Sometimes, it’s an image that we’ve worked hard to cultivate. Sometimes, it just seems to have happened by itself.
- The job that somebody does can have an image attached, especially when it involves wearing a uniform. Equally, people can seem to fit a ‘type’ even when they have no obvious uniform.
However, we can still be surprised by people - or surprise them ourselves - not only in terms of actions, but also in terms of who they or we are.
- Mention that certain uniforms convey a certain image, such as those worn by soldiers and nurses. Bring forward your volunteers who are wearing the relevant uniforms, or display the images that you collected in preparation.
Image goes beyond the uniform required by some jobs. For example, the style of clothes that we choose to wear may be part of the image that we want to project.
Bring forward your fashionably dressed volunteer or mention examples of current fashion styles.
- Famous people are often style icons. How they dress and live illustrates what is important in their lives.
Optional: show some images of celebrity examples.
- To some degree, we all wear a ‘uniform’. It may be not so much to do with the clothes we wear, but more about how we live, the friends we have and what we feel is important in life – our values and priorities.
Kindness and love, patience, being a peacemaker, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness – these are all qualities that we can value when we see people living them out in their lives. We all gain because of the contribution that they are making to our lives. These things can be a different sort of ‘uniform’, as memorable and effective as the uniform worn by a soldier or nurse.
Equally, the ‘uniform’ of living by values that are harmful to an individual and those around them can be just as distinctive. The results of hatred, jealousy, envy, immorality and drunkenness, for example, are clear and damaging.
Time for reflection
Let us think about our own failings and the excuses that we readily make . . . and how, instead, we might put on the uniform of faithfulness and determination.
Let us think about the world, divided by hunger, war and injustice . . . and those who wear the uniform of the peacemaker.
Let us think about friends or family who are experiencing loneliness and heartache . . . and how we might put on the uniform of gentleness and kindness.
Let us think about ‘outsiders’ – homeless, despairing, forgotten . . . and those who love them.
Let us think about the ‘broken’, who feel betrayed . . . and how we might show that we care for them.
Conclude with the following quotation from Francis de Sales, a French bishop who lived from 1567 to 1622.
‘Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.’
Pause to allow time for thought, and then repeat the quotation one more time.