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How Much Baggage Do You Carry?

How do we cope with the situations in which we find ourselves?

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Key Stage 3/4


To consider how we cope when the baggage we carry seems too heavy.

Preparation and materials

  • A child's play tunnel, a large coat, a rucksack and a selection of items to wear or carry


1. Show the pupils the play tunnel and ask the question: Does anyone think that they can get through this play tunnel?

Ask for a volunteer to demonstrate.

Point out that as this seems to be relatively easy you would like the volunteer to try to get through the tunnel again, but this time wearing a coat.

Ask for the volunteer to put on the coat and move through the tunnel.

Point out that this also seems relatively easy, so next you would like the volunteer to carry a rucksack on his or her back.

Ask the volunteer to move though the tunnel.

Repeat this process with the volunteer carrying more and more items so that it is increasingly difficult to move through the tunnel.
Point out that the more things the volunteer carried the harder it seemed to find a way through the tunnel.

Give the volunteer a round of applause!

2. I wonder if any of you ever find it difficult just to get through the day. It might be that your school bag is so huge that you resemble a turtle! However, it might be that people simply cannot see the baggage that you are carrying.

3. You may be carrying worries with you; you may be concerned about other people; you may be thinking about the argument you had with your mum or dad last night, or the fact that you haven't done your homework! The fact is that we all (even teachers) carry things with us that others might not be able to see. If one of your friends or teachers is grumpy, it might be that life outside of the classroom is difficult at the moment.

4. I wonder how you cope with all your baggage. I wonder if you have some coping strategies that help you get through difficulties. It is hard sometimes to break a negative thought spiral. If you are feeling bad about something, it will invariably affect your behaviour and how you respond to other people. This in turn will add to your thoughts and worries, and sometimes our emotions and feelings can even show themselves in physical symptoms. Sometimes it might seem that everything is too much. You are not only carrying physical baggage, but also emotional baggage, and you wonder how you can manage to get through the day, or even the next lesson!

5. At some time everyone feels down and as if everything is too much. However, if you feel like this a lot, it is important that you find someone you trust and that you tell them how you feel. It can be difficult to admit to people that you're not coping, but, in the long run, it better to hold your hands up and be honest than continue the way you are. If you don’t seek help, then your metaphorical baggage will get heavier and, just like the camel and the straw, you could collapse under the strain.

6. Ask the question: How would the journey through the play tunnel have been easier?
Explain that the passage through the tunnel would have been easier if someone else had carried some of the baggage. When we see other people struggling to cope, then we need to ask if we can help. It may only be something small that is needed to make someone's baggage easier to carry or to relieve them of some of their load.

Time for reflection

How do you feel today? Are you finding it difficult to cope? Do you need to talk to someone?
Let’s never be afraid to admit that we need help.

What will you do today if you see someone in need?
Let’s all, always, be people who want to help.

Publication date: January 2016   (Vol.18 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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