What’s More Important?
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider that decisions can be difficult and there may not always be a universally agreed outcome.
Preparation and materials
- You will need six students to perform the playlet and they will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly. The tone of the piece is light, but thought-provoking.
- You will also need the following props: a tennis racket, a magnifying glass, a plant, a guitar, a wooden spoon, a saucepan and two clipboards and pens.
Sport-lover, Nature-lover, Music-lover and Food-lover should move to their own spaces on the stage and start miming what they love best.
- Sport-lover has a tennis racket and is practising his/her swing.
- Nature-lover has a magnifying glass and is examining a plant.
- Music-lover has a guitar and is quietly strumming chords.
- Food-lover is using a wooden spoon to stir something in a saucepan.
The interviewers, complete with clipboards and pens, enter and address the gathering.
Interviewer 1: Good morning. We’re doing a survey, so we’d like to ask your opinion about a few things.
Interviewer 2: Some of the questions are easy, but some need a bit more thought.
Interviewer 1 approaches Music-lover.
Interviewer 1: What’s more important - your fingers or your thumbs?
Music-lover: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I need my fingers, but I couldn’t hold this guitar properly if I didn’t have my thumbs.
Interviewer 2 approaches Sport-lover.
Interviewer 2: What’s more important - your right arm or your left arm?
Sport-lover: Wow, that’s tricky. I play tennis right-handed, so my right arm is very important, but my left arm keeps me balanced.
Interviewer 1 approaches Food-lover.
Interviewer 1: What’s more important - the pizza base or the cheese that goes on top?
Food-lover: Woah, that’s really hard. (Thinking) Cheese, I guess. You can’t have pizza without cheese. I love cheese. (Thinking again) On the other hand, without the base, it wouldn’t be a pizza. Hmm - that’s a real toughie.
Food-lover continues to think about it as Interviewer 2 questions Nature-lover.
Interviewer 2: What’s more important - the colour red or the colour green?
Nature-lover: Hmm, let me think. That’s really difficult. I love red and I love green.
Interviewer 2: Let me give you an easier question. What’s more important - insects or birds?
Nature-lover: That’s not an easier question! Without birds, the insect population would get out of ecological balance. Without insects, the birds would die of starvation. All animals are important.
Music-lover turns to address Interviewer 1.
Music-lover: Hey, I’ve got a question for you. What’s more important - this chord (plays G Major chord) or this one (plays D Major chord)?
Interviewer 1: Ooh, that’s a tricky one.
Sport-lover: Or how about this: what’s more important - the number 2 or the number 3?
Interviewer 2: Woah, that’s another tough one. I think I prefer the number 3.
Interviewer 1: No, no. It’s not the preferences we’re interested in. Our survey is about opinions and deeply held beliefs.
Interviewer 2: Thanks for reminding me.
Nature-lover: What’s more important - the sea or the beach?
Interviewers 1 and 2: Ooh, that’s a hard one.
Nature-lover: No, it’s not. Logically speaking, you can’t have a beach unless there’s sea as well - so they’re equally important.
Interviewer 2: Good point.
Sport-lover: I’ve got a good one. When you’re playing football or netball, what’s more important - the ball or the player?
Music-lover: You can’t play football or netball unless you have a player AND a ball.
Sport-lover: Exactly. Have you ever tried playing your favourite ball game with a piece of string instead of a ball? No, me either. It’d be a total waste of time. It just wouldn’t work. String doesn’t bounce and it doesn’t move through the air like a ball.
Interviewer 1 turns to address the audience.
Interviewer 1: Are you getting the idea that it can be very hard to decide what’s more important? Sometimes, the question is absurd, illogical or irrational.
Interviewer 2: Some people even go so far as to say that EVERYTHING is important because everything is related and interconnected. Which is worth bearing in mind because . . .
Food-lover (interrupting, teasing): Yes, that’s all very philosophical and clever, but the really important question is . . . is it time to eat yet?
Interviewer 2: Not yet.
Food-lover: I can’t stop thinking about pizza!
Interviewer 2 turns to address the audience.
Interviewer 2: OK, let’s make the questions a bit harder for you clever people. What’s more important - to make the journey or to arrive?
Interviewer 1: Think about that very carefully. What’s more important - to make the journey or to arrive?
Interviewer 2: Imagine you’ve just won a competition and the prize is really great. You’ve won a holiday in Portugal! Yeah! You’ll be staying in a fantastic hotel, right on the beach. And it has a great restaurant where you can eat as much as you like.
Food-lover: That’s my kind of holiday!
Interviewer 1: Best of all, you get to choose how you get there. You could go by air, which usually takes two to three hours, or you can travel to Portugal in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. That will take three days, but you’ll stay in a five-star hotel each night and you can ask the driver to stop anywhere along the route so that you can look at places that interest you.
Interviewer 2: The trouble is that the holiday you’ve won only lasts seven days. This means that if you decide to fly, you’ll have almost seven full days to spend at the amazing Portuguese hotel, but if you go by Rolls-Royce, you’ll only have one day there before you have to spend three days getting back again. However, on the plus side, you’ll have travelled through France and Spain and seen lots of interesting places.
Interviewer 1: So, let’s go back to our question. What’s more important - to make the journey or to arrive? What’s more important - travelling there or being there?
Interviewer 2: What’s more important to YOU? Think it through. What would YOU decide? Which would give you more pleasure?
Sport-lover: So, you could get on an aeroplane and be in Portugal in two to three hours? That would give you the thrill of travelling in an aeroplane. That’s always interesting.
Nature-lover: But if you went by car, you’d get to see lots of interesting things along the way and you’d be able to say you’d visited France and Spain as well as Portugal.
Interviewer 1: So, what’s more important - travelling there or being there?
Interviewer 2: And - even more crucial - do you understand what you’re basing your decision on?
Sport-lover: I’d go by plane. I’d want to get to the beach as soon as possible so that I could go swimming and play beach volleyball. That’s my idea of a great holiday and there’s no way I would sit in a car for six days.
Interviewer 2: So, you’re making a rational decision by balancing out the pros and cons. Beach volleyball: good. Sitting in a car: bad.
Interviewer 1 (turning to Nature-lover): And what’s your choice?
Nature-lover: I’d go by Rolls-Royce. I get bored on the beach. I love sightseeing and going to different places. Plus, I might not get a chance to have another free holiday, so I’d want to fit in as much as possible.
Interviewer 2: So, you’re using logic to help you make the decision that suits you best.
Food-lover: I’d take the car, too. I love food and that way, I’d get to eat French, Spanish and Portuguese food all on the same holiday.
Interviewer 1 (turning to Music-lover): And what about you?
Music-lover: I wouldn’t really mind, as long as I could take my guitar with me. I’m sure I could have a good time either way.
Interviewer 2: So, you’re going with the flow. That’s another valid way of making decisions - waiting to see what happens and responding to whatever comes along.
Interviewer 2 turns to address the audience.
Interviewer 2: And you - have you made your decision yet? Do you know what it’s based on? Rationality? Logic? Instinct? Or perhaps you still need more information before you can make up your mind. You might want to get advice from someone who knows more than you and whose opinion you trust.
Interviewer 1: We often have to make a choice between one thing and another. Do you have a system for making the best possible decisions?
Music-lover: I have my best ideas when I’m listening to quiet music.
Sport-lover: My mind is most alive after a good match, especially if I’m in a good mood because we won. I never make decisions if I’m miserable because we lost.
Nature-lover: If I have some serious thinking to do, I try to go for a walk somewhere nice. Somewhere with lots of plants.
Food-lover: I find that relaxing after a good meal is a good time to make decisions.
Interviewer 1: It’s different for everyone. That’s why it’s a good idea to figure out what works best for you.
Interviewer 2: One thing that seems to work for everyone is to find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes, take a few deep breaths and settle down. Don’t even think about the decisions that you have to make. Just clear your mind and think of nothing at all.
Interviewer 1: Try it now. Take a few deep breaths, relax and let your mind switch off.
Interviewer 2: Some people do this and call it praying. Some people think that God offers the best advice and is worth listening to. It doesn’t really matter whether you call it prayer or whether you want to aim your thoughts directly towards God. Some people say God hears your thoughts anyway, but that’s another story. The important thing is to relax. Give yourself a little break every now and then.
Interviewer 1: We’ve been asking you about what’s more important. What’s more important than knowing what’s important to you? Relaxing like this is simply a way of discovering what’s important to you.
Interviewer 2: The trick is knowing yourself well enough to understand how you tick. Ask yourself, ‘What’s more important to me and the people I care about?’ Give it time - the answers will come.
Time for reflection
Allow the students to remain quiet for a few more moments, and then bring the assembly to a close.