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by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To look at change as something positive rather than damaging. 

Preparation and materials

  • You could change how the children come into assembly or wear something very different from what you usually wear or even choose some totally different music for the children to come in to.
  • Have available one of the many versions of the song ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ by The Byrds and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.


  1. Did anyone notice anything different about assembly this morning/me/the way you came in? Did you like it? Why not?

    Expect the answer, ‘It’s different, you’ve changed it/what you wear.’

  2. It’s interesting because, although people often say they don’t like something, if you change it, they will soon complain. 

    That’s because people generally don’t like change. Change is often something that is scary, frightening and can be greeted with hostility and fear. Changes are never far away, however. We come across them all the time. For example, Year 11 were once Year 10. Year 8 forms were Year 7 and Year 13 were Year 12, but they will be thinking about other very big changes that will be happening soon and looking for somewhere to continue their studies or thinking about an apprenticeship or applying for jobs. Of course, there have been or will be some staff changes, too, and some of you may have found things were different when you came back after the holidays.

  3. Change can also be of a personal kind, whether it's breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, relocating to another area for whatever reason, having a best friend move away, the death of a relative or perhaps something that once meant a great deal to you has not turned out the way you hoped it would. 

    Such changes aren't easy, but, then again, they often provide an opportunity to grow and test your mettle. In order to change, we have to go through the process of becoming different. We can assume that the grass is greener on the other side.

  4. Without change things would always stay the same. In the children’s book The Hungry Caterpillar, the caterpillar eats and eats and eats until he goes from being a small caterpillar to a big fat caterpillar and, eventually, after being in his chrysalis, he becomes a beautiful butterfly. Without the metamorphosis that takes place in the chrysalis, the caterpillar would never have fulfilled his potential. Equally, without change in the world and within ourselves, we will never fully fulfil our potential.

  5. The problem that accompanies change is the fear of the unknown, the not knowing. Often people think, ‘But we’ve always done it like that’ or ‘This new way won’t work.’ If you look at human history, if we hadn’t embraced change or tried to do things differently, we would probably still be living in caves. Where would advances in medical technology come from if no one ever took a chance or a risk? In fact, without change, there would be no human race. Without change, we would not have amazing natural sights either, such as the Grand Canyon.

  6. So, change is not necessarily a bad thing. By embracing it and seeing it as something that can be transformative and exciting, we will always be able to develop as people and as a species in the world around us. As Gilda Radner said: 

    Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

  7. Imagine that you have never been to the seaside before in your life. You spend all day building an enormous sandcastle. You have a moat, towers with turrets and you’ve had the best time building it. The next day, on the way back to the beach, you’re really excited about adding to it, but, when you get there, the sandcastle, all the turrets and towers, moat, everything has gone. You simply don’t understand how something so solid, something so big could just disappear. 

    Now, we all actually know that the tide will have come in overnight and slowly washed the sandcastle away. The sea comes, reclaims its space and changes the landscape from one in which your sandcastle stood to a flat bed of sand again, so you will have to start over again. You could see this as a defeat, be very sad and mourn for the loss of your brilliant sandcastle, or you could see it as an opportunity to rebuild it, make it better and even bigger than the day before. Maybe, this time you could even add a drawbridge over your moat!


Time for reflection

Think about the changes that have taken place over the summer. Are you going to be sad for what is past or are you going to embrace what is ahead of you. Let’s listen to the quote again:

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Likewise, though, there are sometimes things that we cannot change. We cannot make people like us, we cannot change someone and make them be the way we want them to be and we cannot make someone do something if they don’t want to. It is for us to see where we can change things and, if change is coming to us or coming our way, then it is about how we deal with that change which will make the outcome either positive or negative.

So, embrace change, don’t see it as something to be frightened of. Although that doesn’t make it any less frightening, think about what you can do with that change, what you could do to make things bigger and better.

The following prayer uses Reinhold Niebuhr’s well-known wise words about how to approach change. 

Dear God, 
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.


‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ by The Byrds

Publication date: August 2014   (Vol.16 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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