by James Lamont (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5
To look back at the past year and think about life as a continual learning experience.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a candle and some meditative music for the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. An example of suitable music is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG1wLzyqR1Y (3 hours long)
- It is the end of the school year, and most of us will be moving up a year in September. However, some of us will be leaving the school altogether. This is a great change for all of us, and should be recognized as such.
Life does not stand still, but moves as though in a dance. However pleasant our lives are currently, they must change. People grow older and their personalities shift and grow. With this must come a change of scenery.
- Our school career only lasts up to 14 years. In a lifetime, that is quite a short amount of time, but it is still important to mark the end of each year. Our education changes dramatically with each year, as does our character. The end of each year is an achievement, first and foremost. One more year done. One year less to go. A year’s work over.
- In many ways, each year gets harder. This is a cause not for discontent, but for celebration. We’re getting older and more knowledgeable. Our brains are developing and becoming more sophisticated in the way in which they process our learning. Our education must reflect that. Even those who are leaving this school are progressing to another harder, but also more rewarding stage. As we age, the responsibility and autonomy that we receive, and are expected to demonstrate, grows. The work done and the new expectations placed on us should be celebrated.
- Those who are leaving this school will probably have to enjoy or endure (depending on your point of view!) a ritualized dance, prom or formal evening of some sort. It is, of course, important to see everyone for one last time. Good memories are worth many bad ones and our classmates deserve to be seen in the best light. Another year done in the learning experience of life.
Of course, in reality, none of us ever escape from education for good. Lifelong learning is true for us all!
- Those who are heading to college or sixth form and eventually university will end up, after three or more years of intense study, at a graduation ceremony that can seem a little anticlimactic. All those years of hard work are commemorated with a handshake from a minor celebrity and a piece of paper, all experienced while wearing strange and unflattering clothes.
However, as anyone who has been through such an event will tell you, it is not what you are given that matters, it is what you have already gained. The same is true of everyone who moves up an academic year: as teachers, we do not necessarily give you more responsibility and achievement, we merely recognize that you already have it.
Time for reflection
Light a candle and play some meditative music.
Encourage the students to spend some time reflecting on what they were like this time last year.
Ask the following questions.
- How much have you changed?
- How has your life changed in that time?
Encourage the students to think about the following words.
Think of the good things that have happened.
And the bad things, too.
Think about your hopes:
For this summer,
For the next year.
Give thanks for your growth,
For the increase in your knowledge,
And say ‘yes’ to all that will be in the future.