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Reflecting change

To reflect on the personal changes that take place in a year.

by James Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To reflect on the personal changes that take place in a year.

Preparation and materials

  • A reader (see section 2).


  1. Every year, the seasons change and the world changes with them. We begin the year in winter and end it in winter, with a brief, too brief, spell of summer in the middle. That period of summer is coming to an end as we begin a new school year, and you may well feel that everything is the same as it was a year ago. Just as the seasons will always begin again, so it may seem that the school year is an endless cycle, year after year after year with little change or progress.
  2. Reader  That’s how I felt, and it’s only now, having finished school, that I see how wrong I was. Every year brings great changes. And the greatest changes occur when you least expect them. At the start of this new term, after six weeks away, we are all different from who we were when we left school on that sunny [rainy] July day, ready for the long hot summer.
  3. As well as being valuable because they offer a chance to control one’s own time, long breaks are valuable because they allow self-reflection and the opportunity to consider who we are – what we think, what we want and how we see ourselves. This is why some of you have made obvious changes over the summer.

    But change does not have to be overt or noticeable. Sometimes the most lasting changes are those we make within: changes in our attitudes and values. Maybe the decision to work harder in school, or to be a better friend. Maybe even a less obviously ‘moral’ choice: maybe we will decide to work harder and more devotedly on a particular skill or hobby.
  4. In years to come, some of our more obvious changes may be a source of mild embarrassment. Anyone who was alive in the 1970s or 1980s may well regret some of the fashion and lifestyle choices made then! But that is of course no reason not to make changes.

    If you feel confident now in the choices you make, stick with them. After all, old changes are only made redundant when they are replaced by new changes. Life is a succession of changes and alterations. We never reinvent ourselves; we merely change little bits of what we consider to be ourselves.
  5. It is a modern cliché to say that one should ‘be oneself’. But thinking about change in this way shows us that who we are is in flux. We are always ourselves. It is just that our selves are changing, subtly and less subtly.

    Some things about ourselves are more important than others. But we are who we are, each one of us, and none of us is exactly who we were one year ago, on another bright [cold] autumn morning.

Time for reflection

Think about how different you are today compared with this time last year. If nothing else, new clothes may witness to your increasing height or girth.

Which changes are you proud of?

Which ones do you wish had never happened?

How might you want to change in the coming year? And how can you set those changes in motion?


‘For every season, turn turn turn’ by the Byrds is readily downloadable.
‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 313).

Publication date: August 2011   (Vol.13 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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