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Fear and courage

To suggest that often the bravest people are those who are frightened yet still do brave things in spite of it.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To suggest that often the bravest people are those who are frightened yet still do brave things in spite of it.

Preparation and materials

  • No preparation is needed but an OHP or whiteboard would be useful for reading the poem if used.


  1. Say that we have all been afraid at some time or other and that this is quite normal. People are frightened of different things. Some people are afraid of new situations like changing school or changing teacher. Some people are frightened of the dark. Some find tests frightening.
  2. Invite the children to listen to this story and to think about what it says about being frightened.

    Jamie was a timid boy. He was frightened of lots of things: thunder, wind, dogs and especially cows. The other boys at school often teased him but he did not complain; he didn’t call Barry names because of his ginger hair or make fun of Derek because of his stuttering. He knew they couldn’t help these things any more than he, Jamie, could help his fears.

    Jamie’s class was doing a project about farming and he was persuaded by his parents to go with his class on a school visit to a farm. Barry and Derek knew how timid Jamie was and thought this was an ideal opportunity to tease him even more.

    The class was split into groups and told to go off and find out what animals were kept on the farm and what crops were being grown. They were told not to go into the field where the cows were grazing as the farmer did not want any of the gates left open for the animals to escape. Knowing Jamie’s fear of cows Barry and Derek disobeyed the rules and led Jamie through a gate where they thought they had seen a herd of cows.

    The field seemed empty except for one animal. ‘We’ll scare him,’ said Barry. ‘Look, Jamie, there’s a bull! It’s coming this way!’ said Derek.

    It was then that they realized it really was a bull and it was heading straight for them! Jamie was too frightened to run and instinctively headed for a nearby tree, while the other two fled and headed for the gate. The bull chased Jamie around the tree trunk instead of chasing the others in the open field, where it would easily have caught up with them.

    By this time the teacher and the other children could hear the commotion and as Barry and Derek reached the safety of the gate they could see Jamie apparently keeping the bull busy while the two boys escaped. The farmer and his dog arrived and they were able to drive the bull into the next field. Jamie was safe.

    He was declared a hero by the teacher and all his class. He admitted to them that he was too frightened to run away. ‘Never mind,’ said the teacher. ‘Many people are afraid at times yet they still find the courage to do brave things when necessary. You saved Barry and Derek from being attacked by the bull.’

    Jamie felt much better after that. He grew braver and he felt much more confident. Barry’s hair was still ginger and he liked it that way. Derek’s stutter began to improve over time. Jamie found that, slowly, he began to overcome his fears and was no longer afraid of thunder, wind, dogs, or cows. Bulls? Well, he hoped he would not meet one again!
  3. Jamie had not intended to be a hero but he had acted instinctively. If time allows read and discuss the poem.

    Overcoming fear
    by Jan Edmunds

    Sometimes we don’t feel very brave when we are all alone,
    When faced with something very new, that leads to the unknown.
    We may have fear of simple things like wind or rain or height,
    Or fear, when we go to bed, the turning out of the light.
    We need to stop and think awhile just why we feel this way,
    Remember that the bravest ones can chase their fears away.
    Sometimes something happens and then without a thought
    We find the very courage to do things as we ought.
    Bravery takes over and new confidence we find,
    The problem then is overcome and fear goes from our mind.

Time for reflection


Read or reread the poem and ask the children to think about it – does it apply to them?



Dear God,

Please be with us in our school today, in our work and in our play.

Make us brave enough to overcome those things that frighten us,
which we do not understand.



‘When a knight won his spurs’ (Come and Praise, 50)

Publication date: June 2008   (Vol.10 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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