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Identity: That's the real me

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To look at how the things we own reflect our identity and being honest about who we are.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a leader and two readers. Rehearse the students to ensure they read slowly and clearly.
  • Prepare for Reader 1 a readable copy of the text, ‘A few weeks after he (my father) dies, I go to Scotland to stay with friends  . . . ' to 'When he washed he dried his face so vigorously that it squeaked', from Alan Bennett's Telling Tales (BBC Books, 2000, p.47). The text (or texts) for Reader 2 are a poem by an anonymous author in Janet Glover’s Rainbows Through Clouds (published by Lady Glover in aid of the Rainbow Trust, 1997) and/or Psalm 17.3-4, given in the ‘Time for reflection’ section below.
  • Make a 'treasure box' with a collection of personal things in it, such as a book, scarf, photographs and so on – things that would give clues about the person who owns the contents.
  • Have available Enigma Variations (No.12) by Elgar or Symphony No. 9 'From the New World', Second Movement, by Dvořák or 'When I'm sixty four' by The Beatles and the means to play the piece at the end of the assembly.


Leader Take the items in the treasure box out one by one and ask the students what sort of person might own these things. Male or female? Young or old? What can we find out about them?

Invite the students to think about their possessions or their rooms at home. What would they say about them? What would they put in a box that might help someone to identify the contents as theirs? Would they put in things to tell people what their character was like, such as: 

– a smiley face, if they are happy
– a picture or drawing of a pair of ears, if they are good listeners? 

Ask the students to think about how well they know themselves and what one of their friends or family might put in the box to identify them. Would they choose the same items?

How well do they know themselves? Could they be honest about what they put in their box?

Reader 1 Reads the passage from Alan Bennett's Telling Tales.

Time for reflection

Reader 2

My vision

When you get what you want
In your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife,
Whose judgement upon you you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict
Counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may fool the whole world
Down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass;
But your final reward
Will be heartache and tears,
If you've cheated the man in the glass.

(Anonymous, in Rainbows Through Clouds)

If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
If you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
My mouth does not transgress  . . .
My steps have held fast to your paths;
My feet have not slipped.

(Psalm 17.3, 5, NRSV)


Enigma Variations (No.12) by Elgar or
Symphony No. 9 'From the New World', Second Movement, by Dvořák or
'When I'm Sixty Four' by The Beatles

Publication date: April 2014   (Vol.16 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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