Why fast is not always best
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the benefits of a ‘slow and steady’ attitude.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Slow Down) and the means to display them.
- Have available the YouTube video ‘People are awesome (fast workers edition)’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.21 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=494dUevcqJM
- Optional: you may wish to display a lit candle in a prominent place.
- Have Slide 1 displayed as the students come into the room.
To begin the assembly, show Slide 2.
Ask the students if they know the name of the fastest human alive.
Listen to a range of responses, and then show Slide 3.
The answer is Usain Bolt. At the 2009 Berlin World Championships, the Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world record for the 100 metres with a record time of 9.58 seconds.
- Show Slide 4.
Ask the students if they know in what country the fastest train is found.
Listen to a range of responses, and then show Slide 5.
The answer is Japan. In 2015, Japan’s SCMaglev train clocked a top speed of over 375 mph (603 km/h) in testing on a magnetic levitation track.
- Show Slide 6.
Ask the students if any of them can estimate the speed at which the fastest rollercoaster in the world travels.
Listen to a range of responses, and then show Slide 7.
The answer is 150 mph (240 km/h). The newly constructed Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is the fastest rollercoaster in the world.
- Show Slide 8.
Ask the students if they know which land animal is the fastest in the world.
Listen to a range of responses, and then show Slide 9.
The answer is the cheetah. Over short distances, cheetahs can sprint at a top speed of 68-75 mph, and they can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in three seconds, which is faster than most standard road cars.
- Point out that there are lots of situations where speed matters. Completing a task by the deadline is important. For example, what would happen if you didn’t hand in your homework on time, or if you only answered half of an exam paper before you ran out of time?
In the world of work, employees are often assessed on how quickly and efficiently they perform a task. It has been claimed that checkout staff at Aldi are expected to scan at least 1,000 items an hour, which equates to an item every 3.6 seconds. The staff have to work quickly and efficiently to meet this target.
- Ask the students to watch how quickly and efficiently people are working in the following video.
Note: the video is 2.21 minutes long, but you could watch only part of the footage if time is limited.
Show the YouTube video ‘People are awesome (fast workers edition)’.
- Point out that today, there are many fast-food outlets, such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway. Many of us like our food at speed, expecting it to be prepared and served quickly, without a wait.
Show Slide 10.
Even if we prefer to cook ourselves, the success of Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals shows that for many people, speed matters!
- However, there are some situations where going too fast is not helpful. Some things require time and patience, and the process can’t be rushed. To make fine wine or cheese, the product must be left to mature - it can’t be rushed.
If we rush when we eat, and gobble down our food too quickly, we can suffer.
Show Slide 11.
The food isn’t digested properly, so we are likely to get indigestion. The same applies to spending time with friends or loved ones– it is good to spend quality time with people we value. To rush quickly through a conversation or an activity with friends will not help the relationships to grow.
- The professional golfer Walter Hagen is credited with a quotation that teaches us a lot about the value of slowing down.
Show Slide 12.
Read the quotation out loud: ‘You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.’
Walter Hagen was familiar with success, winning 11 professional golf majors. However, he also understood that we can rush through life too quickly, without taking time to stop and pause. To take time and slow down gives us a chance to appreciate the sights, sounds and sensations all around us.
- Have any of you heard of the idea of mindfulness? It is originally a Buddhist practice whereby we slow down and notice what is happening in the present moment. It encourages us to take stock, to pause and be fully aware of what we are doing, or looking at or listening to. Nowadays, many people - from various religions or none - find that mindfulness helps them to find calmness and peace in a busy world.
- The practice of prayer - central to all world faiths – is also an opportunity to slow down and find calmness, stillness and peace. The Bible says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46)
Show Slide 13.
Time for reflection
Let’s pause to think about the benefits of finding a place of stillness, peace and calmness. For a short while, let’s choose to slow down, notice and become aware.
Let’s become aware of our own breath.
See if you can feel the breath coming into your body as you breathe in.
Then, slowly and gently – no need to rush – become aware of the breath leaving your body as you gently exhale.
Notice how your chest and stomach move as you breathe in, and then how they change as you breathe out. There is no need to rush this process.
Slow, deep breaths help our body to recuperate, regenerate and heal.
Let’s take a few more moments to be quiet and to become aware, really noticing our own breathing.
Pause for about 30 seconds.
During the last pause, which actually lasted only 30 seconds, perhaps we noticed that our bodies were still, but our minds were still working at a fast pace. Thinking and processing ideas, working at a fast speed – moving quickly from one thought to the next. That is quite normal, but plenty of practice at choosing to stop – to slow down and notice our breathing - can help us to calm our minds over time, too. Maybe we could all practise this when we are alone sometime.
We have one more opportunity in our assembly to be still, to pause and to take time to breathe slowly and deeply, so I wonder whether you can encourage your mind to slow down, too. For many people, focusing on a visual object such as a candle can help with this.
If it is available, point to the lit candle that you have on display.
For others, contemplating God or a phrase from the Bible or other religious teaching can help to calm their minds.
Perhaps it will be helpful to you to close your eyes and silently say to yourself the words from Psalm 46: ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’
Let us take another 30 seconds to be still, to breathe and to be aware of our breath.
What did that experience of stopping, of slowing down, feel like?
For the times today when we need to work quickly and efficiently, please help us to be poised and focused.
However, please also remind us to find opportunities to be still.
Remind us to stop, slow down and appreciate the importance of reflection and peace.