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Do We Jump to Conclusions?

Itís easy to make false assumptions

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3

Aims

To consider how easy it is to make false assumptions and jump to the wrong conclusion.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two volunteers to try a long jump. You may wish to use cones to mark the distances. (Remember the schools health and safety guidelines.)

  • You will also need two volunteers to read out the scenarios in the Assembly, Steps 4 and 5.

  • Optional: you may wish to display an image of jumping to conclusions, in which case you will also need the means to do so. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y74wx9of

Assembly

  1. Ask the students how far they think they can jump.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Ask for two volunteers to make jumps from a standing position. You may wish to mark a start line and the distances jumped.

  2. Optional: show the image of jumping to conclusions.

    Point out that we all sometimes jump to conclusions. It means that we think that we are reading a situation correctly without really knowing the facts. Sometimes, these jumps can take us a long way from the truth.

  3. Explain that already today, everyone will have made many assumptions and drawn many conclusions. It might be as harmless as thinking, ‘It looks like rain. I’d better take my coat,’ or, ‘Oh no, I’ve got a double lesson first thing this morning and it’s going to be sooo boring!’

    Sometimes, our conclusions can be proved correct, but they can often be wrong. Sometimes, the conclusions that we jump to have little effect on those around us. However, at other times, they can have more serious consequences.

  4. Invite the first volunteer to read out their scenario.

    Student 1: Kaitlin ignored me on the bus this morning. She’s probably in a bad mood. So much for friendship! I need to ignore her and find other friends.

    Ask the students to consider the following questions.

    - How did Kaitlin appear?
    - What could be some of the reasons why she did not speak to her friend?

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    You may wish to take answers from the students.

    Point out that even before we arrive in school, many things have already happened to each of us. Something bad might have happened to Kaitlin to put her in a bad mood; she may simply not have seen her friend or been distracted by something or someone. It could be that she was deliberately ignoring her friend, but we can’t immediately jump to conclusions because we don’t know all the facts.

  5. Invite the second volunteer to read out their scenario.

    Student 2: Mr Gibbs looks as though hes been dragged through a hedge backwards. He doesn’t look very clean and all his clothes are creased. Perhaps he had a little too much to drink last night!

    Ask the students to consider the following questions.

    - How did Mr Gibbs appear?
    - What could have contributed to his dishevelled appearance?

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    You may wish to take answers from the students.

    Point out that the student immediately jumped to the conclusion that Mr Gibbs had been drinking too much the night before, even though there are many other things that could have happened to Mr Gibbs to cause him to look like that. It could be as simple as the fact that his iron had broken, so he didn’t have any ironed clothes. It could be that something terrible had happened to him or even that he was unwell.

    The point is that we can’t immediately jump to conclusions because we don’t know all the facts.

  6. Tell the following story.

    Mrs Smith was on her way to the city. It was her birthday and as a treat, her family had given her a train ticket and a crisp, new £50 note to spend at the shops. She was looking forward to a wonderful day. On the seat opposite her was a shabby-looking woman clutching her handbag. Even before the train left the station, the woman seemed to be fast asleep.

    Mrs Smith put her handbag down on the seat next to her and soon, with the rhythm of the train, she dozed off, too. She woke up an hour later as the train was slowing down on its approach to London. ‘Better get myself organized,’ she thought.

    She opened her handbag to take out her ticket from her purse. The ticket was there, but where was the £50 note? She was sure she had put them both together. She rummaged through her handbag and then her coat pockets, but there was no sign of her birthday money. She was beginning to panic. Where could it have gone?

    She looked at the old woman across from her. She was still asleep, or was she? Had she been pretending all along? Had she leaned across and stolen it from Mrs Smiths purse? The more Mrs Smith thought about this, the more it seemed like the only answer. Leaning across the table, she peered into the old woman’s handbag and saw her purse. With a boldness that was out of character for her, Mrs Smith opened the purse and to her surprise, saw a new £50 note on the top. She was speechless. ‘Of all the cheek!’ she thought. ‘She’s a thief.’

    At first, Mrs Smith considered waking the woman and confronting her with her crime, but then she thought it might be better to call the guard. At last, a better idea began to form in her mind. She carefully removed the £50 note and tucked it back into her own handbag. She wouldn’t say a thing. After all, she didn’t know the old woman’s circumstances and she wasn’t going to let some kind of confrontation spoil her day even more. The train pulled in to the station. Mrs Smith took one last look at the sleeping woman and with a satisfied smile, got off the train. She had a great day shopping.

    As soon as Mrs Smith arrived home, she said to her husband, ‘You’ll never guess what happened to me today.’
    But before she could tell her story, her husband replied, ‘I hope you managed to have a good day. You forgot your birthday money. I found the £50 note lying on the kitchen table just after youd left, but you weren’t answering your phone, so I couldn’t tell you.’
    With that, he took the £50 from his pocket and gave it to his wife. ‘I am sorry,’ he said. ‘I hope it didn’t spoil your day.’

  7. Ask the students to consider what assumptions Mrs Smith had made.

    You may wish to listen to a range of responses or ask the students to discuss their answers with those around them.

  8. Ask the students to consider the repercussions of the incident for the old woman from whom Mrs Smith stole the money.

    You may wish to listen to a range of responses or ask the students to discuss their answers with those around them.

Time for reflection

Ask the following questions.

- Has anyone ever made a wrong assumption about you? How did you feel?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Have you ever made a wrong assumption about someone? How do you think they felt?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Encourage the students not to jump to conclusions, but to take the time to listen to people and understand a situation before they make a judgment.

Prayer
Dear God,
We have a tendency to judge people and their actions quickly and without knowing all the facts.
We recognize that this can lead to many misunderstandings and hurts.
Please help us to hold back from jumping to conclusions and instead, help us to ascertain the facts and make considered responses.
Amen.

Publication date: February 2019   (Vol.21 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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