Somewhere to Learn
School is worth it!
by Vicky Scott (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to reflect on why we come to school, and how we might value school.
Preparation and materials
- You will need three readers, who will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.
The figures used in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4, are taken from the United Nations Sustainable Development website, available at: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/poverty/
The ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly makes reference to several quotations, as shown below. You could present them in various ways.
- By presenting the quotations in a PowerPoint presentation, in which case you will also need the means to display them.
- By printing out the quotations and giving one to every student to meditate on.
- By asking students to read the quotations from different locations around the room. This will need practice beforehand because it is important that the words are heard clearly.
The list of quotations is as follows.
- ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Nelson Mandela)
- ‘Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.’ (Anne Frank)
- ‘The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts, but of values.’ (William Ralph Inge)
- ‘It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought – that is to be educated.’ (Edith Hamilton)
- ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ (George Santayana)
- ‘Education is essential to change, for education creates both new wants and the ability to satisfy them.’ (Henry Steele Commager)
- ‘Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.’ (Henry Brougham)
- ‘Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.’ (Marian Wright Edelman)
- ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ (William Butler Yeats)
Ask the students, ‘Why do you have to come to school?’
You may wish to listen to a range of answers (these may be quite imaginative!) or allow the students a few moments to think of their own answer.
Point out that there are many types of learning that happen in school. It’s not only subject material that is covered, but social learning, making friends, moral education, preparation for working life and more.
Point out that although some of the students might prefer it if they didn’t have to come to school, children in other parts of the world might think differently.
Reader 1: It is estimated that more than 72 million children in the world do not go to school. Without attending school, these children will struggle to get out of the circle of poverty in which they and their families live.
Reader 2: More than 836 million people still live in extreme poverty.
Reader 3: About one in five people live on less than £1 per day.
Reader 1: One in four children under five are smaller than they would be expected to be at their age.
Reader 2: Many thousands of people have to abandon their homes to flee from conflict.
Reader 3: Many children would love the opportunity to live in peace. Many children would love the opportunity to learn and be educated.
In the UK, the law states that all children must receive an education. Some people may feel that this is unfair, because they would prefer for some reason not to be a part of the education system. However, a quick reflection on the statistics above indicates that this law is set to benefit our personal futures, both financial and physical, as well as the growth and success of our country. When a generation is educated, it is better equipped to care for the next generation.
If you ask people in their twenties whether they would change anything about their time at school, many will reflect that they wish they had tried harder and made the most of those precious, carefree years. In this country, we are entitled to years of free education, something that millions of people across the world would be jealous of and perhaps can only dream of – let’s not waste this chance to better ourselves and prepare ourselves for a positive future. If you gain your qualifications while you are at school, you will have opened the door to the rest of your life.
Time for reflection
Present the quotations in your preferred way, as suggested in the ‘Preparation and materials’ section above.
Ask the students to reflect upon the quotations for a few moments.
Ask the students to think about what goes on in their school: making friends, interacting with teachers, learning facts and learning about ourselves and other people.
Ask the students to take a few moments to think about what they find hard about school and then decide how they can make this a better place in which everyone can learn and grow.