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Why Didnít We Listen?

We should listen to good advice

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider that it makes sense to listen to good advice.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be familiar with the content of the story in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.


  1. Ask the students if they find it easy to listen to advice.

    Ask them if they can think of a situation where they were struggling and needed to ask for help or advice. For example, the situation could be related to schoolwork, a problem with friends, a difficulty at home or a choice that needed making.

  2. Point out that many people find it difficult to take advice. It can be especially difficult when we are young. Sometimes, we can end up believing that we know best and that people who are older than us don’t know much at all!

  3. Explain that the following story explores why it can be a good idea to listen to advice.

    The Cycling Holiday

    Two boys were on a cycling holiday. It was quite an adventure because they had never been away without their parents before. However, they had prepared well and planned a route that took them along good cycling tracks and roads that weren’t too busy. They had identified youth hostels along the way and they stayed in a different one each night.

    Each morning, before they set off, they checked their route and identified the hostel that they would visit that night. The hostels were quite well spaced out and the boys knew how far they could cycle on an average day. Everything had gone without a hitch for the first three days of the holiday, but on the fourth day, their plans came unstuck.

    Youth hostels are usually located outside towns or villages and the boys had reached the nearest town to the youth hostel that they had chosen for that particular night. They had been cycling all day and it would have been sensible for them to book into the hostel and then explore the town. However, they chose not to do the sensible thing: a travelling fair had set up in the town car park and its lights and music immediately caught their attention. They decided to lock their bikes and explore the fair before finding the hostel.

    The fair certainly wasn’t Disneyland, but it had some great rides, and the boys couldn’t resist trying a few. The dodgems saw them weaving after one another and trying to avoid the other riders at the same time. More than once, they came to an abrupt halt as they had a head-on collision with the side wall or some other rider. By the time they got off the dodgems, both of their heads were spinning. The waltzer had them spinning even faster, so their legs were wobbly when they eventually staggered off. However, that didn’t stop them trying a few more rides that had them jerking, bouncing or sliding so much that they had to sit down for a while to recover.

    The boys soon realized that they were feeling hungry after all that activity. They couldn’t resist a toffee apple and some candyfloss. Then, they decided that some chips would finish off the day nicely, so they shared a bag as they walked back to their bikes.

    It suddenly occurred to the boys that it was much later than they’d thought. Dusk was falling as they found their bikes. They knew that it wasn’t far to the youth hostel, and they had lights on their bikes, but they realized that it was going to be quite late by the time they arrived. Sure enough, when they arrived, they discovered that the hostel was already full. The manager made sympathetic noises, but said that he would get into serious trouble if he allowed the hostel to go over its legal capacity. He suggested that they go back into town and find a B & B.

    That seemed to be the boys’ only option because they certainly couldn’t face the ride to the next hostel on the map. Even if they could, there was no guarantee that the next one wouldnt be full up, too! The boys reluctantly made their way back into town.

    It was almost dark by the time they reached the town and there weren’t many B & Bs around. One was already displaying a ‘No vacancies’ sign in its window. At another B & B, the boys couldn’t get an answer, and at a third, they were initially hopeful until they were told that the fairground people had booked in for the week. They were turned away from the next place they tried, and were in danger of starting to argue and blame one another for staying at the fair too long.

    As they stumbled along, wheeling their bikes, a lady approached them.
    ‘You’ll be lucky to find anywhere to stay tonight,’ she told them. ‘The fair has attracted people to the town, so all the guest houses are booked up.’
    One of the boys was just about to comment rudely that they had worked that out for themselves when the lady added kindly, ‘I can’t have you wandering around the town all night. You can come and stay with me if you like. I used to have two boys, but they’re grown up now.’

    It was dark as the boys followed the lady along an alleyway to the back of her property. They stepped into an unusual-looking room and the lady explained that it was the back of her shop. She told the boys that she couldnt offer them a bed for the night, but they could make themselves comfortable on the carpeted floor and at least they would be warm and safe. She brought down some blankets and said goodnight to both of them.
    ‘Oh, just one thing,’ she added, pointing to the end wall. ‘Please don’t go through those double doors. Theyre not to be touched.’

    The two boys were exhausted and it wasnt long before they were both fast asleep. However, not much time had passed before one of the boys woke up feeling cramped and uncomfortable on the hard floor. He peered into the darkness, wondering if there might be a cushion or something soft that he could rest his head on.

    It was then that his inquisitiveness got the better of him. He couldnt resist a peep through the double doors. Quietly, he crept towards them and reached up to the handle; slowly, he turned it and carefully pushed the door open. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could hardly believe what he saw – there was a bed! The boy returned to his friend, who had also woken up feeling distinctly uncomfortable, and whispered the news of his discovery. Within minutes, both of them were fast asleep in the soft bed.

    The next day, it was the sound of voices and laughter that woke them. It sounded quite distant to start with and the two boys weren’t quite sure what it was. Slowly, they came to, remembering the events of the day before. Eventually, when the laughter seemed close, the boys opened their eyes and suddenly realized that it was directed at them. They leapt out of bed more embarrassed than they had ever been in their lives. They had found a comfortable bed – but it was in a shop window!

    Its a pity they hadn’t listened to what they had been told.

Time for reflection

The story may just be a bit of fun, but it does make the point: it makes sense to listen to advice.

Sometimes, we can be certain that we know best. Sometimes, as teenagers, we can be certain that we know better than the adults around us. However, it is worth remembering that the adults around us have had many experiences and have faced many of the situations that young people are facing today.

Many adults speak from personal experience. Sometimes, they offer advice in the hope that they can stop those they care about from repeating some of the bad experiences that they have encountered in their own lives.

Ask the students to imagine for a moment that they are adults and that their own children are asking them the following questions. Ask them to consider what answer they would give.

- Why can’t I go to town by myself?
- Why can’t I have a tattoo?
- Why can’t I ride my bike to school?
- Why can’t I have a television in my bedroom?

In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope, carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on his back. Blondins manager must have had complete faith in Blondin that he could pull off the stunt successfully.

Ask the students the following questions.

- Who can we trust?
- Who are good people to turn to for advice?
- How much can we be trusted?

Christians believe that the Bible is full of good advice. They believe that God speaks to people through the Bible and that what it says is trustworthy and true.

Dear God,
Thank you for people who care about us enough to give us good advice.
Please help us to listen to others and be willing to ask for help when we need it.
We thank you for books like the Bible that give us advice about how to live our lives.
We thank you for the example of Jesus.
Please help us to seek to do what is right.
Please help us to be people who can be trusted.

Publication date: March 2019   (Vol.21 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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