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Back to the future: Where and when in 2010?

To help students consider important dates in the year ahead and reflect on what the future holds (SEAL theme 3, ‘Keep on learning’).

by Tim Scott

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To help students consider important dates in the year ahead and reflect on what the future holds (SEAL theme 3, ‘Keep on learning’).

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the students, what is the odd one out of the three objects? Answer: the torch/candle. A calendar and a newspaper both record the passing of time, but the light can help show you the way ahead into the unknown.
  2. Ask students to suggest what some of the most important events of 2010 might be for the country and where they’ll take place, and write these up on the whiteboard.
  3. Think back to the beginning of the year, just a month or so ago. The start of the year is always an exciting time, but this year is even more exciting because it is not just a new year, but a new decade! Tell the students that you want to talk to them about ‘dates’ and ‘dating’!

    While it may be that some of you will enjoy many of those types of dates this year, especially with Valentine’s Day just round the corner, say that you want to talk instead about what some of the important dates for them might be in the year ahead.

    Complete the list (see above) on the whiteboard. Some big national and international events taking place in 2010 that students may mention could be: the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada (12–28 February); the Paralympics (12–21 March); FIFA World Cup in South Africa (11 June–11 July).
  4. Did you know about these other things that are meant to be happening this year?

    General Motors, the American car company, is expected to produce a commercially viable model of its hydrogen-fuelled drive-by-wire concept car, the Hy-wire.
    Israel will complete its Security Barrier and will use it as the basis for the definitive border between Israel and a Palestinian state, according to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (as reported in 2006 by the Wall Street Journal and many other newspapers).
    The JAXA Planet-C orbiter will orbit the planet Venus, and send back photos.
    The International Space Station will be completed.
    The Space Shuttle programme will be retired by NASA and replaced by the Constellation project. As part of the new project will be new space vehicles called Ares 1 and Ares V, as well as the Orion spacecraft, capable of travelling to the Space Station, to the moon and eventually to Mars.

    And important anniversaries this year include the fact that on 13 January it was 100 years since the first public radio broadcast was made, from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
  5. Moving closer to home, what are some of the important events in your family this year? Will your parents or your brothers and sisters be celebrating big birthdays this year: 18th, 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th? And your grandparents – might be celebrating their 60th, 70th, 80th or 90th! How about wedding anniversaries?
  6. While there are some things we can predict in the year ahead, like the World Cup, the Winter Olympics, birthdays and anniversaries, there is much more that is unknown. We’ll just have to wait and see. Change is inevitable and we can’t turn back the clock. We’re all growing older – and hopefully wiser.

    For some people, thinking about the future is scary. They want security in their journey through life. Perhaps they are scared about important exams and decisions that have to be made this year about what courses to study and where to work.

    The truth is, life is incredibly precious, exciting and unpredictable. Christians believe that Jesus promises to guide us in our lives if we trust him. He said, ‘I am the Light of the World’ and ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14.6). So Christians believe that we can trust him with our future.
  7. What do you want to happen this year in your life? This year, as we launch out into the known and unknown in 2010 and beyond, think about what launching out may mean for you personally. There may be some exciting and wonderful surprises in store for you. I suggest four things you might consider:

    (1) Take risks and be more adventurous. Is there anything that’s worth taking a risk to achieve? This might mean working harder to get a higher grade than your teachers expect, and surprising them and your family and even yourself! Taking a risk may mean breaking a destructive habit like eating too many fatty foods. Taking a risk may mean confronting old fears and discovering the amazing rewards on the other side of them. Loving others involves risk-taking: the risk of being vulnerable.

    (2) Set yourself goals. Establish a plan to reach a goal and tell someone what you want to achieve.

    (3) Look in the mirror and ask yourself what sort of person you want to be over the coming year. Are you able to respect what you are becoming?

    (4) Devote your life to something greater than yourself and feel blessed in doing it. You may not be a ‘secret millionaire’ (as in the Channel 4 TV series), but you can still make a positive difference, helping people in your school and wider community.
  8. Let me encourage you to face 2010 and the new decade ahead with courage. On Christmas Day 1939, the king, George VI, the father of Elizabeth II, decided to do something he found really uncomfortable: to speak to the public on the radio. He had a stammer, but was determined to revive a custom his late father had started and bring an annual message to the British people. This being the first Christmas of the war with Germany, he thought they could use the encouragement. He read these wonderful words to the nation: ‘I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown,” and he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”’
  9. A new year is a new beginning, a gift full of promise. How many of you made new year’s resolutions? How many of you are still keeping them?

Time for reflection

As we face the future, let’s think about what we want to see one year from now. Does it include getting better grades, losing some weight, taking up a new hobby, getting on better with your family? Are you anxious about what the future holds?

If you have a faith, think about what that teaches you about God’s love and care for every individual.

If you have no faith, think about all those whom you love and work with, and how you can contribute to their lives as they contribute to yours.

Lord, help us to face the new year with courage, trusting in you.
Thank you that you have promised to be with us whatever the future holds for us.


‘Will you come and follow me’ (Hymns Old and New, 560)

Publication date: February 2010   (Vol.12 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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