Ethos Education

Doctor Who: The Almost People: What causes prejudice?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Awareness of the causes and results of prejudice.
  • Awareness of the consequences of prejudice and discrimination.
  • Understanding of Christian teaching about prejudice as a concept.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect upon the way preconceptions can influence how we think of other people.
  • Evaluate a positive example of going beyond prejudice from an episode of Doctor Who.
  • Evaluate a less-positive example of prejudice from the same episode.
  • Analyse biblical teaching that relates to prejudice and discrimination.
  • Synthesise learning by creating a publicity campaign for an into-prejudice pressure group.

STARTER:

Put the students in pairs, and give each student a copy of the Guess Who? Faces handout. Explain that you are going to play a game of Psychological Guess Who? You might prefer to have just one pair of students play the game in front of the class (or one student competing against you) using the equipment from the original Guess Who? game. Click here to buy the game from Amazon if you wish to do this.

In the classic version of the game Guess Who?, one player chooses one person from a selection of characters and the other player has to identify the chosen character by asking yes or no questions such as ‘Are you male?’ or ‘Do you wear glasses?’ and eliminating possible suspects as a result of the answers. In Psychological Guess Who?, students have to ask  less quantifiable questions, such as ‘Do you have an inferiority complex?’, ‘Do you have a difficult relationship with your father?’, or ‘Are you generous with money?’ The first player decides the appropriate answer for their chosen character and answers either yes or no. The second player then decides which of the remaining characters they think should be eliminated, and continues until they are down to one character. If this is the same character that the first player chose, they win.

If students ask how they are supposed to determine the answers to these questions, tell them to use their judgement and decide which faces to eliminate on the basis of the answers. Of course, it is entirely possible – if not almost certain – that the two players will come to different conclusions about the respective characters in the game, one of them deciding that Fiona was, for example, a Mummy’s girl and the other deciding that she wasn’t.

Ask the students if any players managed to correctly identify their partner’s chosen character, and congratulate anyone who achieved this unlikely feat. Ask why the game was so difficult, and draw out that all the answers were based on the random prejudices of the players, deciding all sorts of things about the characters without having a firm basis for any of their conclusions. Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about prejudice, and looking at Christian teaching that relates to the problems of prejudice and discrimination.

MAIN ACTIVITIES:

Introduce the first clip from the Doctor Who episode The Almost People which is available on the DVD Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 1 (BBC DVD 2011, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Explain that the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) have found themselves in a remote factory where workers plug their personalities into living plastic doppelGangers (or ‘Gangers’) to carry out dangerous work. After an electrical storm, their Gangers have come to life and are attempting to kill them. The previous episode ended with the revelation that there is a Ganger version of the Doctor. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the similarities and differences between the Doctor and his Ganger.

  • Start time:       0.00.00 (beginning of chapter 1 of the DVD)
  • End time:        0.04.46
  • Clip length:     4 minutes and 46 seconds

The clip starts with a recap on the events of the previous episode. It ends after the Doctor says, ‘That’s enough; let it go. We’re under stress.’ If you want a shorter clip, start at 0.02.32 (beginning of chapter 2; immediately after the opening credits sequence).

You might want to explain the significance of the clip of the Doctors’ shoes: the original Doctor’s shoes were damaged by acid, forcing him to change into work boots from the factory; the Ganger Doctor still has the same shoes that the original Doctor arrived at the factory in.

Ask the students what the Doctor’s initial reaction to his Ganger was? Draw out that he was cautious at first, wanting proof that the Ganger Doctor really did share all his knowledge, memories and personality, but then quickly accepted his Ganger as a welcome ally in the task of getting everyone – human and Ganger – safely away from the factory. Notably, he didn’t jump to hasty conclusions but took the trouble to find out more about the Ganger.

Now show the second clip from Doctor Who. Ask the students to compare Amy’s reaction to the Ganger Doctor with the Doctor’s reaction, as discussed in the previous section of the lesson.

  • Start time: 0.09.13 (in chapter 4 of the DVD)
  • End time: 0.10.43
  • Clip length: 1 minute and 30 seconds

The clip starts with Cleaves (Raquel Cassidy) asking, ‘Can you really get the power back?’ It ends with the Doctor exclaiming, ‘Yes! Communication a-go-go!’

Ask the students to describe Amy’s reaction to the Ganger Doctor. Draw out that she doesn’t trust him, and that once she has established which one is the original Doctor, she shows a strong sense of preference to him over and above his Ganger. Ask the students why they think Amy felt such a preference. Do the students think that this preference was reasonable on Amy’s part, or unreasonable? Ask them to see Amy’s response from the Ganger Doctor’s point of view. He has all the memories and experiences of the original Doctor. When Amy argues that she had been through so many things with the original Doctor, how would the Ganger – who feels that he shared all those experiences too – feel at being excluded from them? Does looking at the situation from the Ganger Doctor’s viewpoint change any of the students’ opinions on how Amy is reacting?

Explain that prejudice can often stem from people only seeing things from a limited perspective and choosing not to consider how their actions might affect others. Explain that later in the episode, Amy discovers that the original Doctor and the Ganger Doctor had secretly swapped shoes. This means that most of Amy’s conversations with the Ganger Doctor have really been with the original Doctor and vice versa. This revelation brought out to Amy that she was basing her reactions on prejudice, rather than on taking the Ganger Doctor on the basis of what he actually did. Ask the students to suggest real-life situations where people sometimes dismiss people and don’t give them a fair chance on the basis of prejudiced assumptions.

Working together in small groups, ask the students to read Matthew 5:43-48 and discuss what the passage has to say about the subject of prejudice.

Explain that one of the causes of discrimination is that sometimes people tend to be more welcoming and trusting of people who they think are like them (i.e., the same social class, the same race, the same political views, etc). Jesus points out that it is easy to be pleasant to the people who we like, but he tells his followers that they should show love to everyone. Ask the students to suggest some of the practical implications of ‘loving your enemy’. If people attempted to live like this, what difference would it make to situations affected by prejudice?

SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:

Ask the students to imagine that they are the publicity manager for a pressure group who are campaigning to oppose the widespread prejudice against Gangers. Ask them to design a leaflet and poster designed to challenge people to rethink their prejudice against Gangers. The publicity campaign should be particularly aimed at people with a Christian background, and as such should reflect something of a Christian understanding of what is wrong with prejudice. Students may find all or some of the following Bible passages helpful: Matthew 5:43-48; James 2:1-17; Luke 10:25-27.

YOU WILL NEED:

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