Conflict and Resolution
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider how to handle conflict.
Preparation and materials
You will need a leader and two readers.
You will also need a copy of the poem, ‘Four o’clock Friday’ by John Foster, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yc7lkm85
Optional: You may like to play a piece of dramatic music during the assembly, in which case you will also need the means to do so.
Leader: ‘Four o’clock Friday I’m home at last. Time to forget the week that’s past.’
Reader 1: Let’s listen to the rest of that poem by John Foster.
Reader 2: (Reads the poem, ‘Four o’clock Friday’, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yc7lkm85)
Leader: What’s all that about then? You sound as if you haven’t had a very good time recently.
Reader 2: No, I haven’t! That poem just about summed up how I feel. Everyone and everything is just getting at me at the moment. Even at the weekends, I’m getting hassle from my family. IT’S NOT FAIR!
Reader 1: I think we all have times when we’re at odds with the world. We all feel in conflict with something or somebody. You know that you can easily fall out with your best friends, let alone people you don’t like. And then there’s school! Some of the rules are reasonable, but some are really irritating. You feel like you want to break them, just to show you can! Sometimes, we’re horrible to our friends, just because it seems like a good idea at the time.
Leader: I think part of the problem is that everywhere you look, there’s conflict. There’s the news for starters. That always seems to be about wars and people fighting. But it’s not just the news. It’s on all the soaps, all the reality TV . . . everywhere! The characters are always falling out with each other. It’s like there are small conflicts between people and big conflicts between countries.
Reader 2: Yes, and there are conflicts among areas of a country, too, between football teams. Even playing ordinary games in school can seem like a war sometimes. I’ve got the bruises to show for it!
Leader: Hang on, let’s get things in perspective. Quite often, it’s only when we disagree with someone that we find out what we really think. It isn’t a war or a violent argument; it’s more like sorting out where we stand, what we think and what our preferences are. As we disagree and discuss things, we learn to compromise in order to keep our friendships and relationships alive. But it can be difficult!
Reader 1: In the New Testament, Jesus was in conflict with those who opposed him. And the Old Testament is full of conflicts and arguments. Unfortunately, there are conflicts between many religions and sometimes, parts of the religions argue among themselves. Listen to this . . .
Reader 2: ‘When Jesus was in the house of Levi, the tax collector, many bad characters were seated with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. Some teachers of the law who were Pharisees noticed him eating in this bad company, and said to his disciples, “He eats with tax gatherers and sinners!”’ (Mark 2.15-17)
Leader: ‘On another occasion, when Jesus went to the synagogue, there was a man in the congregation who had a withered arm. Jesus’ opponents were watching to see whether Jesus would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they could bring a charge against him. He said to the man with the withered arm, “Come and stand out here.” Then, he turned to them and said, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” The opponents had nothing to say, but Jesus said, “Stretch out your arm.” The man stretched it out and his arm was restored. But Jesus’ opponents went away and began to plot how they could get rid of Jesus.’ (Mark 3.1-6)
Reader 1: Well, that’s all very well for Jesus to do that. He challenged the important leaders, but in the end, they got him. They had him killed. So, all of those conflicts ended in tragedy. It didn’t do him any good.
Reader 2: It didn’t do him any good directly, but it did make people think about where they stood and what was important to them. Jesus had to challenge people and this brought him into conflict with some of the people. And remember: the whole thing ended well because Christians believe that Jesus came back to life again!
Time for reflection
Leader: It’s all very complicated, but I do think that we learn when we are in conflict. We just have to be careful not to let it get out of hand in our personal life, in school and at home. If we learn to deal with conflict, there might be a chance for peace when we’re in charge. The lesson is, I suppose, that life isn’t always fair, or doesn’t seem to be fair at times . . . but some time later on, we see the bigger picture.
Reader 1: This is a humorous poem by Allan Ahlberg called ‘Teacher’s prayer’.
Let the children in our care
Clean their shoes and comb their hair;
Come to school on time - and neat,
Blow their noses and wipe their feet.
Let them, Lord, not eat in class
Or rush into the hall en masse.
Let them show some self-control;
Let them slow down; let them stroll!
Let the children in our charge
Not be violent or large;
Not be sick on the school-trip bus,
Not be cleverer than us;
Not be unwashed, loud or mad,
(With a six-foot mother or a seven-foot dad).
Let them, please, say ‘drew’ not ‘drawed’;
Let them know the answers, Lord!
Reader 2: Whether as students or teachers - whether at home, school or anywhere we go - we will face conflict. The important thing is how we deal with it. Listening and taking the time to understand other people’s points of view is the only way to handle conflict well. It is the only way to move forward.