Taming the Tongue

Posted on May 20, 2009 by Amy Tolmie

Preparation: you'll need a lab coat, eye goggles (from a science department), big industrial gloves (or heavy duty cleaning gloves), a case (a large silver case works really well), and a cow's tongue (or Ox's tongue) - available to order from your local butchers.

Set up the case on a table at the front of the assembly hall with the tongue inside, but keep it closed until the appropriate moment. Have your other items to hand.

(tip - this assembly is all in the dramatic build up, so do everything over the top!)


“This morning I want to talk to you about dangerous weapons.

I invite you back in time to the Stone Age where the spear was the weapon you needed for survival: The spear caught you your food; if a man came from a neighbouring village the spear would soon sort him out; and it also saved you from the occasional wild animal who might wander across your path.

Then, along came the sword. Put in the wrong hands, a sword can be the most destructive weapon there is, and there are many people who have been killed by this deadly instrument.

I think we would all agree however that far more dangerous than a sword, is the gun. It can kill from long distances and is probably the most dangerous weapon of all time. Would you agree? [allow students to disagree]

Indeed, the bomb, MUST be the most powerful weapon of all time, and even more harmful than that, the atomic bomb. This can kill thousands instantly and radiation from a bomb can affect you for years and years after the attack.

[depending on time and your audience you can keep going or add in other weapons along the way]

BUT …year 9…I have for you this morning here at [name school], a weapon that is far more dangerous than all of these put together. You see this weapon has caused more pain, more destruction than any other, and in the wrong hands is by far the most dangerous weapon in the world.

[pause for effect]

Do you want to see it?

The big reveal!

It responds to noise so you have to be incredibly silent. I also have to wear protective clothing if I want to stand this close to it…[put on your items of protective clothing one at a time, describing to the students what you are doing and letting the tension build with each item].

Once everyone is still and quiet I will open the case. This morning I present to you…..the most dangerous weapon in the world……[open case slowly, and reveal by grabbing it out of the case, the cow's tongue]….the tongue!!

You may not have been expecting this, but let me tell you why the tongue is the world's most lethal weapon. The tongue has been described: as a SWORD, because the words we say can really cut people; as POISON because we can spread lies about people or take jokes too far; DESTRUCTIVE FIRE as rumours and gossip are spread and can get out of control. What we say has the power to completely crush someone else and take aware their self-confidence and leave scars that we may never see. This is what makes it the most dangerous weapon in the world.

However, our words also have the power for good. They can build people up, make them feel valued, protected and encouraged. We can transform someone's day by choosing our words carefully."


At this point, place tongue back on the case and share a story about when someone believed in you and used words to encourage you to live differently and become the person you knew you could to be. Or a story that uses words positively. It could be yours or someone else's. An example of a story, is about a girl who was always told when she was young that she was ugly and stupid. These words were spoken over her so much, that she grew to believe them. She lived her life thinking she was ugly and stupid and had no confidence in who she was. She grew up and eventually met a man who she fell in love with, and he fell in love with her. This man didn't think the woman was ugly and stupid at all. In fact, he believed she was beautiful and clever. She was everything he'd always dreamed of. He told her she was beautiful and clever everyday, and eventually the woman began to believe these words, and that whatever she believed in the past were just lies, and didn't matter because the person she loved, and who loved her, thought she was amazing!


Our words can take away someone's dignity, happiness and confidence, but they can also build up these things in people. Let's build each other up, not knock them down. Be careful what you say. Words stick with us for a long time.

There is a famous Christian saint called St Francis of Assisi who wrote these words, and just as I read them, close your eyes, and we will have a moment of silence afterwards to reflect on them:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, forgiveness;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

Let me not seek to be understood, but to understand others;
Let me not seek to be loved, but to love others;

For it is when we give that we receive,
When we forgive that we are forgiven,
And when we die that we are born to eternal life.


If you'd like to display this prayer on a slide, you can download the words here.

You can also choose to weave into your assembly Matthew 7:12 or Luke 6:31: "Do to others as you would have them do to you"