Negotiating a Spaghetti Junction
Which path should we choose?
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider that there are many paths that we may choose to follow in life.
Preparation and materials
- You will need some raw spaghetti.
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Spaghetti Junction’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.26 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKA-utioNCU
- In the ‘Assembly’, Step 6, you may wish to show the students an image of a Staffordshire knot, in which case you will also need the means to do so. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/qr4l9dq
- Show the long strands of spaghetti to the students.
Point out that data shows that for the last couple of decades, the average weekly consumption of pasta has been about 90g per person per week. Clarify that this figure is for pasta in general, not just spaghetti.
Show the students what 90g of spaghetti looks like.
- A quick search of the BBC Good Food website offers 187 spaghetti-based recipes, including spaghetti Bolognese, cod puttanesca with spinach and spaghetti, green spaghetti and meatballs and lemon spaghetti with tuna and broccoli.
You may wish to have a vote to see which of these is the most popular with the students.
- Ask the students to raise their hand if they have heard of a place called Spaghetti Junction. Explain that it is a complicated network of busy roads that was opened in Birmingham nearly 50 years ago.
Show the YouTube video ‘Spaghetti Junction’.
- Remind the students of the following information from the video.
- Spaghetti Junction was built high up on 559 concrete columns.
- The major roads that intersect at Spaghetti Junction are the M6, the A38 and the A5127.
- In total, it covers 13.5 miles of road over five levels.
- The other transport networks that cross in this area include two railway lines, two canals and three rivers.
- Explain that from above, Spaghetti Junction looks quite confusing. People who are driving on it need to concentrate particularly hard. Drivers need to change lanes to make sure that they turn off at the correct junction. Parents might ask their children to be quiet so that they can concentrate more easily. If they’re heading to Oxford or London and they take the wrong lane, they could find themselves on their way to Wales! Sometimes, drivers can get impatient with each other, plus rush hours and holiday seasons can be incredibly busy and become a bit of a nightmare.
- In fact, it was journalists from the Birmingham Evening Mail who first gave Spaghetti Junction its name. When a reporter saw the plans for it way back in 1965, he described the interchange as ‘a cross between a plate of spaghetti and an unsuccessful attempt at a Staffordshire knot’.
Show the image of a Staffordshire knot, if available.
Time for reflection
Suggest that sometimes, life can be a bit like Spaghetti Junction. It can get pretty busy and stressful. We might feel like we are all over the place, unsure of what to do next or which path we should take. We might feel like there is pressure from other people to do a particular thing or act in a certain way; the way to go is not always clear. Every day, we have many choices to make and these can take us in various directions.
Sometimes, we want to change direction, but that’s not always easy or possible. However, we can ask ourselves some questions to help us to decide.
- Which lane should we be in?
- What or who should we be following?
- What if we head off in the wrong direction?
Sometimes, these thoughts can be frightening and might even stop us making choices in our lives. We may decide that we won’t risk trying something new in case it goes wrong. However, this could mean that we might miss out on something amazing through fear of the unknown.
When Jesus called his first disciples, it was with the words, ‘Follow me.’ He was asking the fishermen to leave their jobs and come with him, to take the route that he was taking. However, he was also suggesting more than that. By saying, ‘Follow me,’ Jesus also meant, ‘Copy what I do and how I live.’ Jesus knew that we would need help to go the right way.
Imagine that you’re new to Spaghetti Junction. It’s rush hour near Birmingham and it’s the holiday season. Everywhere is very busy and crowded. Now imagine that there is a police car accompanying you. It stays immediately ahead of you at a steady pace with its lights flashing and its driver is keeping a watchful eye on you. You could be sure to reach your destination without all the usual stresses.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Christians believe that if we follow Jesus’ teaching, we will keep on the right road and he will guide us throughout our lives.
Thank you that you came to show us the right route to take for our lives.
Help us today to keep our eyes on you and to follow you.
When we feel afraid, please help us to remember that you will never leave us and are always there beside us.
Please help us to take sensible risks in our lives
And never be afraid of trying something new.
‘Circle of life’ from the film The Lion King, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GibiNy4d4gc (4.06 minutes long)