Attitude to Work

Note

This assembly is for use in preparation for work experience and is intended for use with older pupils.

Aim

To help pupils examine the nature of work; and to think about Jesus’ attitude to work.

Bible base

Matthew 20:1-16 – the workers in the vineyard.

You will need:

  • Items for task assignments: potatoes and peeler; dirty shoes, polish and brushes; pencils and sharpener; 26 cards showing the different letters of the alphabet.
  • A hat containing 4 cards showing assignments
  • 4 small prizes (eg chocolate bars)
  • 3 large pieces of paper showing:
  1. A ‘graffiti board’ style list of issues which are part of the world of work (see Content below)
  2. A picture of a famous person (eg well-known sports or music celebrity)
  3. A picture of Mother Teresa

• Some music for timing the work activity (see Content below)

Content

Introduction

1. Tell pupils that as it’s the time of year for ‘work experience’, you are going to give them some practice.

2. Ask for four volunteers and give them each one of the following tasks together with the necessary equipment:

  • Peel three potatoes;
  • Clean and polish a pair of shoes;
  • Sharpen a dozen pencils;
  • Sort the twenty-six cards into alphabetical order.

3. Having told everyone what the four jobs are, assign the four volunteers their tasks by asking them to pull a card out of a hat. (Comment that you are sure that more care was taken in their real work placements!)

4. Play some music (it could be on the theme of work, or some ‘busy’ music like The Flight of the Bumble-bee by Rimsky-Korsakov), while they do their jobs. After one minute, see how they’ve got on.

5. Give the volunteers a round of applause and a small reward. You could say something like, ‘Don’t expect anything like that on work experience!’

Why work?

1. Ask some rhetorical questions about the nature of work. For example:

  • Do we work only for what we can get out of it ourselves?
  • Does it matter whether we work willingly or begrudgingly, as long as the job gets done?
  • What is ‘work’, anyway? Is what we do in school ‘work’? or is ‘work’ only a ‘proper job’ for which you get paid? What about ‘working’ in the garden or the house all day? Is that work? Or leisure?

2. Say to your audience that as they are preparing for the world of work, it’s worth remembering some of the similarities, as well as the differences, between school and work. Display the first piece of card showing some of the different issues involved in work which may or may not be part of their working life at school or in ‘a job’. You could include: punctuality, hours, holidays, working day, rules, law, discipline, contract, clothing, illness, wages, pay.

You might talk about some of these or leave them on display whilst you make the general point that the wonderful stress-free, hassle-free, world of work out there doesn’t exist! And probably, the things you dislike about school will be present, in some form, at work.

3. Display the second card (e.g. a top sports person, a super-model or filmstar). Then display the third card – the picture of Mother Teresa. Ask some questions like:

  • Whose job is the most important?
  • Whose job is the best paid?
  • Are there other criteria we need to consider?

4. Talk about the fact that even though they won’t be paid for the work they do on work experience, that doesn’t mean they are not important, or that the work they do next week doesn’t count.

Say that some people on work experience have made a real difference to their place of work: because of the kind of person they are; the atmosphere they’ve helped to create. And, as a result, they’ve made a lasting impression on their workmates.

5. Tell this story: There was a man who had a big job which had to be done in one day. So, he hired some men to do it for a fixed daily rate. Half-way through the day, he realised that the job wasn’t going to be completed on time. So he took on some more men at the same rate. In the early evening, he took on some more to make sure everything was finished and packed away. All the men got the same pay. Some of them didn’t like it, but the boss told them that they’d all got what was agreed at the time they were taken on.

6. Explain that Jesus told this story (see Matthew 20:1-16) – not to make out a case for everyone to be paid the same – but to show that everyone was equally important in getting the job done on time. They all had a part to play – however small it seemed.

Application

  1. Say that you are sure they will all work very hard during work experience, and for no apparent reward.
  2. Tell pupils that Jesus was a worker for many years. He knew what it was like to get dirt in his fingernails and to trade and bargain for the best deals. But Jesus said something very ironic about his work. He said that the most important thing he had come to do was to serve others and eventually die for them, not to gain a reward for himself, but for the greatest free reward ever for others; the best ‘bonus’ any boss could give to anyone, no matter how deserving – the gift of eternal life…heaven.

 

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