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Be yourself

To show that we should not try to copy others but learn to be ourselves.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To show that we should not try to copy others but learn to be ourselves.

Preparation and materials

  • You might like to find some pictures of an oak tree, a willow and an elm to show how they differ.
  • The story could be told with children being encouraged to mime the movement of the trees.

Assembly

  1. If using pictures, show them to the children and introduce the trees. Tell them that your story involves the three of them.
  2. Tell the following story:

    In the forest the wind was very strong but the oak tree stood firm. He was big and strong and the wind had very little effect upon him. He noticed that the slender willow was bending in the fierce gale.

    ‘Why can’t you stand up straight like I do when the wind blows?’ Oak asked.

    ‘Because it’s better to bend and give way,’ said Willow, ‘and then I won’t break. Why don’t you try it?’

    ‘Huh,’ said Oak. ‘I’m not a coward, no wind can break me and I won’t bow to it.’

    Willow was wise, though, and said, ‘We’re all made differently and as long as we don’t break it’s all right.’

    Elm was listening. He admired Oak for being so strong and brave and tried to copy him. Then he thought he would copy wise Willow. When the next storm came he tried first to bend like Willow, then to stand upright like Oak. He just couldn’t decide what to do. As a result some of his branches broke off and fell to the ground.

    Oak and Willow shook their leaves at him. ‘You shouldn’t try to copy others,’ they said. ‘It’s better to make up your own mind and to stick to it.’

    ‘You see, you can’t be as brave as me,’ said Oak.

    ‘Or as slender as me,’ said Willow. ‘Just be yourself.’

    Elm never has been able to make up his mind and is always dropping his boughs very carelessly in strong winds.
  3. Allow time to discuss and explain the story. The oak and the willow each had their own way of coping with the strong winds but the elm couldn’t make up his mind; he wouldn’t just be himself but tried to copy the other trees.
  4. Optional: If there is time, further discussion could include such topics as:

    When we are young we learn how to speak and how to behave by copying many of those around us. As we grow older we learn to develop our own personalities and ideas.

    Some people try to copy their idols, such as footballers or pop stars, trends in fashion and behaviour.

    It is not advisable just to copy others. It’s better to try to think for ourselves. If we copy others, whether it is copying their work, the way they act or the way they dress, it does not make us better people. It’s best to learn to be ourselves and to think for ourselves.

Time for reflection

Reflection

As we grow we have to learn

To choose the way we need to turn.

Not copy others, but have a mind of our own,

For then our true character will be shown.

 

Prayer

‘(God) He made my mind so I could think,

And choose what I should be.’

(from the song, below)

Amen.

Song/music

‘He gave me eyes so I could see’ (Come and Praise, 18)

Publication date: May 2008   (Vol.10 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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