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Small - with potential: A new school year

Looks at the significance of small things to encourage children to aim high and realize their potential (SEAL themes 1: New beginnings and 3: Going for goals).

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To look at the significance of small things to encourage children to aim high and realize their potential (SEAL themes 1: New beginnings and 3: Going for goals).

Preparation and materials

  • You could enter the assembly hall limping and take off your shoe to remove a small stone as a way of introducing the idea of small things being significant.


  1. Small things can cause an awful lot of trouble. (Say the following if using the example given above.) As you saw, when a small stone gets inside your shoe, you will not be able to walk far before you will have to stop and take your shoe off to get it out. Left in, you would soon be limping and in a great deal of pain, as I was!

    A speck of dust or eyelash in your eye will irritate and annoy you. Tears will stream down your face and you will be able to see nothing until the tiny speck of dust or eyelash has been washed out.

    You just have to remove a splinter from your finger, even though it can sometimes be so tiny you can hardly see it.

    The massive and complex American space shuttle was held up because of a fault with a tiny microchip.

    Bacteria, too small for the naked eye to see, can be responsible for diseases that can ravage the body and spread fear among communities.
  2. Yet small things can also become something great and inspiring. Just think about how a small acorn can grow into a magnificent oak tree that may live longer than any human has.

    Small things can have tremendous potential or possibilities – and so do you. What you are now is not what you will be in the future. As children, you are learning and growing every day. You have not yet reached your potential, but what happens today can help to shape your future.

    If you love reading and writing stories now, you could be an author one day.If you like racing your friends in the school field, you could be in the Olympics one day.

    If you like leading your school council meetings, perhaps, one day, you could be Prime Minister.If you like finding out how the human body works, you could be a doctor or a surgeon in the future.
  3. A small boy called Dilwyn Lewis was brought up in an orphanage in Bridgend, South Wales. He sat in his school hall, just like you do, and no doubt he wondered what he would be when he grew up.

    Having a very ordinary – some would say disadvantaged - start, people who knew him then may have thought he would not achieve much in his life, but, after leaving college in 1945, he became a cloth merchant in Bradford. Within a few years, it became clear that he had a real talent for design, so he set up his own fashion design company in London’s Mayfair. He travelled around Europe, where his designs were much sought after and he became a very wealthy man.

    After a period of illness and a spell in hospital, however, he began to feel that his life was empty. He realized that money was not everything, so he decided, at the age of 46, to go to Rome and train to become a Catholic priest.

    Returning to England, he became a curate in Surrey and was a chaplain at Gatwick airport.

    In 1984, his talent for business and energy for getting things done was put to good use when he was appointed as a canon at the papal basilica in Rome – Santa Maria Maggiore. The church was in danger of being closed because of fire and safety risks, but Dilwyn was the right man to see to it that it was restored. He was fluent in most European languages and travelled all over Europe and America raising money for the work to be done. In time, all the rare and precious art treasures and fabric of the church were restored and it is now considered by many to be the most beautiful church in Rome, after St Peter’s.

    Dilwyn was appointed Vicar Capitular of the basilica and created Protonotary Apostolic – the highest of the Vatican titles that can be given for work not related to priestly duties. He said, towards the end of his life, ‘I grew up in an orphanage in Bridgend . . . little did I realize I would end up being the vicar of a papal basilica in Rome.’

    I wonder what you will end up being?

Time for reflection

Consider the phrase ‘success lies upstream . . . you cannot drift there’. We will only achieve our potential if we are prepared to work hard.

Think about Dilwyn’s decision to give up a successful business to become a priest. What do you think made him feel empty? Do you think he made the right choice? What difficult choices have you had to make? How did they work out?

Discuss how great wealth can often leave people feeling empty, under pressure and dissatisfied.

Father God,
We thank you for the talents we have.
May we learn to use and develop them so that we can reach our potential for good and not evil.
We ask your blessing on all in this school who work to bring out the best in us.


‘I am planting my feet’ (Come and Praise, 103)

Publication date: August 2013   (Vol.15 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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