Ethos Education

The Imitation Game: Making the Right Choice

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Assembly Objective: 

  • How should we face difficult choices? The Bible teaches that the best way to live is to ‘act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.’

Film: 

  • The Imitation Game (StudioCanal 2014, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible: 

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty is essential to the educational goal of developing pupils with ‘rational autonomy’. Although society functions through the Rule of Law, sometimes when facing difficult decisions we must think through the underlying principles and it is our underlying attitudes that lead us to make good decisions. 

OPENING ACTIVITY

TV Choice (drama)

Download the TV Choice script pdf with this activity.

  • Arrange in advance for two actors to perform the sketch TV Choice.
  • After they have performed the sketch, explain that in today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about how people make important decisions in life.

Swap or Keep (game)

  • Ask for a student to act as a volunteer and join you at the front of the assembly hall. Give them a sealed envelope (with a brief written description of the prize inside) and tell them that within the envelope are the details of their prize, which they are guaranteed to win unless they choose to give it up.
  • Now tell them that you want to buy the prize envelope from them. Work your way through your list of bribes (see below) each time offering something more attractive, and reminding them that they don’t know what is in the envelope – it could be something good, it could be something rubbish – and offering to swap the prize in the envelope for the bribe you are offering. Try to build the tension and make each decision that the volunteer makes into a big deal. Make sure that, where possible, you have all of the bribe items with you so that you can make the deal there and then if they agree.
  • At the end of the game, either give the volunteer the bribe they chose, or (if they resisted throughout) let them open the envelope and claim their prize. It’s up to you whether you make the prize envelope contain something good, or something disappointing. It’s possibly a better illustration if the envelope contains something genuinely good, but the temptation is the main point rather than the realisation, so you could get away with being a cheap skate! If they choose to trade the prize envelope, it’s up to you whether you ever reveal what was in it.
  • Here is a list of possible bribes. Decide in advance which ones are appropriate for your situation, and which ones you are willing to pay for!
    • 10p
    • An apple
    • A banana
    • A packet of crisps (specify flavour)
    • A bar of chocolate
    • 50p
    • £1
    • A CD single of the volunteer’s choice
    • £5
  • Make the point that one of the things that makes choices in life difficult, is that we don’t always know what the outcome of our choice is going to be. In today’s assembly, we are going to be thinking more about choices.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from The Imitation Game:
    • Start time:       1.15.33 (in chapter 8 of the DVD)
    • End time:         1.19.21
    • Clip length:      3 minutes and 48 seconds
  • The clip starts with an external shot of the building in which the code-breakers are working, with the sound of Alan and Joan entering a coded message into their machine letter by letter. The clip ends with Peter saying, ‘He’s my big brother, and you have a few minutes to call off his murder,’ to which Alan replies, ‘We can’t.’
  • The clip shows the team realising that they can’t use their new knowledge of the German code to save a passenger convoy from attack, because to do so would give away that they have broken the Enigma code.

TALK

Download the Choices Imitation Game Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Who here likes eating Subway? [get students to put their hands up if they do]. Some people just love the range of options at Subway, others can find it a bit bewildering. [click] Even before you get as far as deciding on your sandwich filling, you have to choose between a 6 inch sub or a footlong, [click] and then whether you want your sandwich on Italian bread, Hearty Italian, Honey Oat, Italian Herbs and Cheese or Wheatbread. [click] There’s a huge range of fillings, [click] then you have to decide whether you want cheese with that, whether you want your sandwich toasted, [click] whether you want salad and how you want that salad made up – do you have all or some of tomato, lettuce, cucumber, pepper, olives, jalapenos, pickles and red onion. How about sauce on your sub? [click] The choice is between chipotle sauce, honey mustard, light mayo, sweet onion, hot chilli, barbeque or ranch sauce. [click] Unless you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what you want to eat before you start the process, it can be pretty confusing for some people.
    • Some decisions in life are easier than others, which is good news for those of us who have trouble negotiating our way around the Subway menu. Some decisions are also more important than others. We’re going to watch a film clip now of a group of people who suddenly find themselves with an incredibly important decision to make. The clip is from the film The Imitation Game, and Alan Turing and his team of code-breakers have just had a breakthrough, enabling them to finally crack the apparently unbreakable code that the Germans use when transmitting orders to their troops over the radio. Being able to intercept and understand the German orders has been identified as the biggest single factor in turning the Second World War in Britain’s favour. Put yourselves in the shoes of these people and ask how you would have approached the decision they found themselves faced with.
    • Play the clip from The Imitation Game:
      • Start time:       1.15.33 (in chapter 8 of the DVD)
      • End time:         1.19.21
      • Clip length:      3 minutes and 48 seconds
    • The clip starts with an external shot of the building in which the code-breakers are working, with the sound of Alan and Joan entering a coded message into their machine letter by letter. The clip ends with Peter saying, ‘He’s my big brother, and you have a few minutes to call off his murder,’ to which Alan replies, ‘We can’t.’
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say the following, ‘Once Alan Turing and his team decode the days messages, they realise that German submarines are being directed to attack a passenger convoy. They have the power to save 500 lives by diverting the convoy and sending a force to attack the submarines. But Alan realises that they have to let the passengers die. If they act now, it will alert the Germans to the fact that the British can decipher their codes. The codebreakers have to weigh those 500 lives against the potential of keeping their secret safe and using it to bring a speedier successful end to the War.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • What a decision – whether to save 500 civilian lives, or to allow them to die in the hope that it will enable you to win the war and save millions of lives. Looked at logically, as Alan says, it’s hard to argue against letting them die. [click] ‘Sometimes we can’t do what feels good,’ he says. ‘We have to do what is logical.’ That may be true, but logic doesn’t look very good to Peter, knowing that his own brother was one of the sailors whose lives were hanging in the balance. Logic doesn’t always sit easily with our emotional involvements, and it may be that sometimes the right choice isn’t always a logical one. How do we know when the right choice is the one that feels good, or the one that feels logical?
    • Fortunately, most of us are never likely to called upon to make decisions like the one in the film. But sometimes we will face dilemmas where it’s not easy to know what to do. It may be that our sense of right and wrong is in conflict with what we think is best for someone we love; it may be that we are faced with a set of options where none of the outcomes are entirely satisfactory; decisions don’t have to involve life and death to be hard.
    • How should we go about making hard choices? The Bible offers this suggestion:
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (New Living Translation).
    • People often see the Bible as a big book of rules, but in passages like this one it’s more interested in our attitude than in the details of what we should or shouldn’t do. Here we are offered three guidelines which, if we follow them, will help us to make wise decisions in every area of our lives.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • First of all, we should do what is right. Sometimes it’s not easy to know what’s right. In the film clip, you can argue that it would have been right to save the passenger convoy, or that it was right to leave them to be attacked in order to have a greater chance of winning the war and saving more people. Whichever point of view you take on that, most of us would agree that it’s not a clear-cut decision, there are arguments on both sides. But a lot of the time right and wrong is obvious. There are certain things that we don’t need to be told are wrong. And, if we’re honest, there are a lot of things that we choose to do where, deep down, we know that the choices we make aren’t right. If we commit ourselves to always trying to do the right thing, as we understand it, and if we’re honest with ourselves, then it makes our decision making a lot clearer.
    • [click] Secondly, we should love mercy. Mercy is wanting the best for others, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Doing the right thing and loving mercy are two sides of the same coin. If we embrace the idea of mercy, it will help us to recognise the right thing in lots of situations.
    • [click] Finally, and perhaps this is the hardest of the three, we are told to walk humbly with our God. Humility doesn’t come easily to many of us. We like to put ourselves in the centre, to make sure that our needs and desires are met before we worry about anyone else. Walking humbly with God means putting his values first, it means recognising that the world isn’t all about us. If we can put aside the attitude that says ‘me, me, me’ as the first priority, it will help us to develop good habits of doing what is right and loving mercy.
    • Our choices in life are rooted in our attitudes. If we get our attitude right, towards God and towards other people, it will help us to make good choices.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Choices Imitation Game Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Who here likes eating Subway? [get students to put their hands up if they do].
    • Some people love the range of options, others find it bewildering.
      • [click] 6 inch or footlong?
      • [click] Italian bread, hearty Italian, honey oak, Italian herbs and cheese, or wheatbread?
      • [click] Huge range of fillings.
      • [click] Cheese?
      • [click] Salad? If so, what do you have in it – tomato, lettuce, cucumber, peppers, olives, jalapenos, pickles, red onion.
      • [click] Sauce: chipotle, honey mustard, light mayo, sweet onion, hot chilli, barbeque, or ranch?
      • [click] Can be confusing if you don’t already know exactly what you want.
    • Some decisions in life are easier than other – good news for those who have problems in Subway.
    • Some decisions are more important than others.
    • Introduce film clip
      • Alan Turing and his team of World War 2 code-breakers have had a breakthrough.
      • Cracked Enigma code, enabling them to understand German transmissions.
      • This was regarded as the most important factor in turning the war Britain’s way.
      • Put yourselves in their shoes – how would you approach the decision they are faced with in the clip?
    • Play the clip from The Imitation Game:
      • Start time:       1.15.33 (in chapter 8 of the DVD)
      • End time:         1.19.21
      • Clip length:      3 minutes and 48 seconds
    • The clip starts with an external shot of the building in which the code-breakers are working, with the sound of Alan and Joan entering a coded message into their machine letter by letter. The clip ends with Peter saying, ‘He’s my big brother, and you have a few minutes to call off his murder,’ to which Alan replies, ‘We can’t.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • What a decision – save 500 lives, or let them die to hopefully save millions.
      • [click] Viewed from Alan’s perspective, it’s hard to logically argue against letting them die.
      • Logic doesn’t look so good to Peter, whose brother is one of the sailors due to be attacked.
      • Logic doesn’t always sit well with our emotional involvements.
      • Maybe the logical choice isn’t always the right one.
      • How do we know when to choose the thing that feels right and when to go with logic?
    • Most of us won’t face a decision like that.
      • Sometimes we face dilemmas where it’s hard to know what to do.
      • Maybe our sense of right and wrong is in conflict with what we think best for someone we love.
      • Maybe none of our options are good ones.
      • Decisions don’t have to involve life and death to be hard.
    • How should we approach hard choices?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (New Living Translation)
    • Rather than laying down rules, passages like this are more concerned with our attitude.
    • Three guidelines to help us make wise decisions in every area of our lives:
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • We should do what is right.
      • Sometimes it’s not easy to know what’s right.
      • From the clip, you could argue it either way.
      • But often right and wrong is obvious.
      • Sometimes, deep down, we know the right thing to do, we just don’t want to do it.
      • If we commit ourselves to always trying to do the right thing, our decisions become a lot clearer.
    • [click] We should love mercy.
      • Mercy means wanting the best for others, regardless of whether they deserve it.
      • Doing right and loving mercy are two sides of the same coin.
      • If we love mercy, it will help us recognise the right thing in lots of situations.
    • [click] Perhaps the hardest of the three: we are told to walk humbly with our God.
      • Humility doesn’t come easily to many of us.
      • We like to put ourselves first, to make sure our needs and wants are met.
      • Walking humbly with God means putting his values first, recognising that the world isn’t all about us.
      • If we stop thinking ‘me, me, me’, it will help us develop good habits of doing what is right and loving mercy.
    • Our choices are rooted in our attitudes.
    • Get our attitude right, towards God and towards other people, and it will help us make good choices.

RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God. Sometimes we can be bewildered by the decisions we face. Sometimes it’s hard to know what the right option is in any situation, and sometimes it’s hard to take the right option even when we know what it is. Help us to always try to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you as we make decisions day by day. Amen.

Reflection

  • What factors do you take into account when making a decision? Are you more interested in doing what’s right, or doing what’s right for you? Would you like everybody around you to make decisions along similar lines to you, or do you want them to be more generous spirited than you are willing to be?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. The Imitation Game (StudioCanal 2014, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. TV Choices script pdf.
  3. Choices Imitation Game Talk PowerPoint.
  4. Suitable bribes, plus a prize envelope if you are using opening activity: Swap or Keep.

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