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The world and me

Exploring our view of the world

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To look at exploration in the past and now and our view of the world.

Preparation and materials

  • Depending on how you develop the session, you will need illustrative material and the means to display it on a large screen.
  • You could involve the students in preparing this illustrative material, covering the main points being made in Step 3. For example, a student could put together a PowerPoint presentation illustrating the statistics listed there – the visual impact of this will help make the message more memorable.
  • Note that if you do create a number of charts to display, it's worth thinking about varying the way in which the statistics are presented – having pie charts as well as bar graphs, using symbols (faces or bodies) for people and thinking about colour, too, for example.
  • An image of Christopher Columbus, his ship or a map of his voyage and one of space or a space rocket would also be useful (check copyright).
  • This unit can usefully be presented in conjunction with the 'Who am I?' collective worship in this series.


  1. Christopher Columbus was a famous explorer in the fifteenth century.

    Display image of Columbus, his ship or map of his voyage, if using.

    Ask people about him and they'll say he was the person who 'discovered' America, in 1492. It's an odd thing to say when we know that there were already plenty of people living there! It does tell us about some people's views, that what was really important was the country being known by us.

    Did you know that Columbus had to fake the ship's log (the diary recording distances travelled) because his crew were nervous about not knowing where they were and frightened of the consequences? Some people at that time thought the Earth was 'flat' – shaped like a plate – and travelling too far would mean getting too near the edge and be very dangerous in case you fell off!

  2. Today, there is new interest in space exploration and finding if there is evidence of 'life' beyond this planet.

    Display image of space or space rocket, if using. 

    Perhaps there are new worlds to be discovered. Maybe some of you will be involved in that.

  3. What is your view of the world we live in today? 

    We are the same as those explorers long ago in many ways, but some of the differences are stark and surprising.

    Let's imagine for a few minutes that the population of the world has shrunk to just 100 people. If all the existing ratios remained the same, it is reckoned that:

    display the charts, graphs and so on prepared beforehand in turn or have the students who created them describe what they show.

    – 57 would be Asian  . . .  21 would be from Europe  . . .  8 would be African  . . .
    – 52 would be female  . . .  and 48 male  . . .
    – 70 would be non-white  . . .  and 30 white  . . .
    – 70 would be non-Christian  . . .  and 30 would be Christian  . . .
    – 6 people would possess 59 per cent of the entire world's wealth – and they would all be from the USA  . . .
    – 80 would live in poor homes – or worse  . . .
    – 70 would be unable to read  . . .
    – 50 would be malnourished  . . .
    – only 1 would be educated beyond school level  . . .
    – only 1 would have a computer.

  4. Where do you fit in this picture of the world?

    How much do you know about those who live in other countries, their ways of life, what their hopes and fears are and what their worldview is?

Time for reflection

Not the powerful, not the privileged,
Not the famous in the land,
But the no ones and the needy
Were the first to hold God's hand.

God determined to be different
From the standards we think best,
In his choice of friends and family,
Let forgotten folk be blest  . . .

John Bell, Coracle (The Iona Community, November 1995)

Follow-up activity

Create a series of assemblies focusing on aspects of this one and increase the students’ awareness of the world – perhaps collecting a range of views of what young people in other countries and cultures think it is like to live in this country.

Publication date: March 2014   (Vol.16 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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