What is old? Attitudes to age

In short...

Themes: what 'old' means; relationships; respect and care for the elderly.

Summary: This assembly explores what the children think about being older - both the age at which one becomes 'old' and what they think and feel about older people. The video is a traditional story from Nepal exploring tensions between the generations. The emphasis is on understanding and tolerance.

Resources: the framework to download / print and a short voxpops video in which children offer their thoughts on 'When are you old?' (See Key links).

The video

The video clip is an animation of a traditional story from Nepal called 'Baaje and the doko basket'. Everyone works hard in the village - everyone except Baaje because he is too old to work. Baaje's son, Mohit, is frustrated by his father and when Baaje allows the goats to escape their pen Mohit decides to carry him away in the night in a doko basket. But Baaje's granddaughter, Anu, loves him dearly and has overheard Mohit's plan. She enlists the help of her uncle and aunt and together they set about rescuing Baaje...and ensuring everyone appreciates him too.

Duration: 4' 27"

End of speech: '...he gave her a great, big wink.'

Video questions

What is a 'doko'? (A special kind of basket for carrying rice. Mohit intends to carry Baaje away in one.)

Who complains about Baaje not doing any work? (His own son - Mohit.)

What event causes Mohit to lose all patience with Baaje? (Baaje leaves the goats' pen open and the animals escape - causing mayhem!)

Who does Anu tell about Mohit's plan? (Her uncle and aunt.)

Why does Anu's aunt shout from outside to 'come quickly'? (She is pretending to be hurt to create a diversion - so that Anu and Baaje can be swapped in the doko basket inside.)

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
Voxpops video

Suggested framework

1. Entry music You might choose a song referencing age. There are plenty to choose from - eg 'Young at heart'.

2. Introduction Tell the children that today they'll be thinking about older people and what the word ‘old’ actually means. Play the voxpops video 'When are you old?' Ask the children at what age they think ‘old age’ begins and why. Gather responses. Ask the children if any of them wish they were older - and why (eg to have greater independence). Tell the children: the age at which we say old age begins actually changes the older we get. Most people aged up to 30 say that old age begins at 65. Most people aged 30 to 60 say it begins at 70. Whereas most people aged 60 and over say that old age doesn’t begin until 75. (Source YouGov poll 2018). Explain that they're going to watch a short video story about three generations of the same family from Nepal – an old man called Baaje; his son called Mohit and his granddaughter called Anu…

3. The video Play the video. The duration is 4' 27" and the final words are: '...gave her a great, big wink.'

4. After the video You might use the Story questions to help children recall the main events of the story: 1. What is a doko? 2. Who complains about Baaje not working? 3. What causes Mohit to lose all patience with Baaje? 4. Who does Anu tell about Mohit's plan? 5. Why does Anu's aunt call from outside to 'come quickly'?

5. Time to talk Lead a discussion about the story, exploring the attitudes of the characters and the relationships between the different generations. You might ask some, or all, of the following: 1. How do Anu and Mohit feel about Baaje? 2. What does Anu value about Baaje? (He makes her feel happy again whenever she is sad?) 3. Why do you think they have such different thoughts about Baaje? 4. Is Mohit right to be angry with Baaje? What things could be making him feel that way? 5. What does Anu mean when she says: ‘One day, when I am old, my son might send me away from my home in a basket just like this’?

6. Opportunity to sing If your assembly is to include a song you could sing it here. Suggestions from BBC collections below.

7. Opportunity to reflect Make sure the children are settled for the reflection, which focuses on the need for patience and tolerance. 'Now let's spend some time thinking about some of the things we’ve heard today… Today we’ve been thinking about what it means to be old… Whether ‘old’ is a particular age…say 30 or 50 or 70… Whether ‘old’ is about being able to do particular things…or NOT do them… Whether you’re simply ‘as old as you feel…’ Think about an older person that you know... What makes them special for you? What are we in danger of missing if we treat older people as being without interest..? As you think about what it means to be ‘old’ remember that every older person you know was once the age you are now…'

8. Opportunity for prayer 'Dear God, Whatever it means to be old, And whatever we can do…or not do…, Help us to remember that older people were once the same age as we are now…, And that one day we will be the age that they are. Amen.'

Suggested songs

'Down by the riverside' - Come and Praise, no 142
While we live we learn (vocal)

While we live we learn (Backing)