Shows students the power of remembering positive role models to encourage them to lead more thankful lives.
by Tim and Vicky Scott
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To show students the power of remembering positive role models to encourage them to lead more thankful lives.
Preparation and materials
- Whiteboard or flipchart to record students’ responses.
- A volunteer to shuffle and show cards.
- Two readers (optional).
- ‘Thank you for the days’ by The Kinks and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
- Start by noting how every year, as a country, we remember and celebrate certain events. Ask the students to suggest such events and write them down on the whiteboard or flipchart. Examples volunteered may be Easter, Christmas Day, Remembrance Sunday.
- Ask the students why they think remembering is important and write down their responses.
- Mention that memory is powerful. Tell them that, while we are often impressed by the large memory of the latest smartphone or computer, the human brain is in a different league. Estimates vary as to the storage capacity of the human brain. Some argue that it is impossible to measure. Others say that the figure is 1 terabyte, 100 terabytes or 2.5 petabytes (which is 2.5 thousand terabytes). If this largest figure is correct, just for the sake of comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You’d have to leave the TV running for 300 years before you would run out of space to store any more shows! This capacity to store memories, then, is vastly superior to the memory of a computer.
- Continue by asking, ‘What memories are we storing?’ Explain that we have been storing memories from earliest childhood, but not all memories are immediately accessible. Some memories appear to stand out more than others in our minds, rather like our favourite profile pictures on Facebook. They are often memories of loved ones, family and friends – those who have inspired us to be the best we can be. Those who have demonstrated kindness and affection towards us. Those who have shown us what it means to be a good person.
- Mention that remembering can be a very positive thing to do – a way of exercising our vast memory banks to bring to our attention events, people and places that have made a lasting impression on us for good reasons. As we remember, positive emotions are triggered that can lead to a sense of thankfulness. Developing a more thankful way of life has lasting benefits for us – psychologists say that thankfulness can reduce blood pressure, stress and produce happier people.
Sadly, though, as memories are so powerful, bad memories can linger and produce unhappy emotions. It may help to discuss these memories with someone we trust.
- Christians believe that God can transform us through a process of renewal. Renewal means healing our brokenness and, by receiving forgiveness and forgiving others, we can create space for the sometimes lengthy but necessary process of the healing of our memory and emotions to begin.
Time for reflection
If you have chosen to have readers, ask them to read the following quotes from the Bible at this point and then continue with the text below.
I thank my God every time I remember you (Philippians 1.3).
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Ephesians 1.16).
In these two passages from the letters of Paul, we see thankfulness and remembrance going hand in hand. When we remember our loved ones, the people who have inspired us and made a difference in our lives, we should be thankful for the positive impact their influence has had. We can and should thank them and, also, thank God for having them in our lives. Thank God, too, for the gift of memory and invite him to heal your unhappy memories if you feel ready.
Thank you for helping me.
Thank you for helping my friends.
Thank you for all the good things you give us and our memories of them.
‘O God beyond all praising’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 544, 2008 edition, same tune as ‘I vow to thee my country’)
‘Thank you for the days’ by The Kinks