Ethos Education

Doctor Who: The Snowmen: Everybody’s Problem; Everybody’s Solution

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Assembly Objective: 

  • What impact do we have, as individuals, on the world around us? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching that we can all make the world a better place by the things we do.

Film: 

  • A copy of the Doctor Who episode The Snowmen (on the BBC DVD, Doctor Who – The Time of the Doctor & Other Eleventh Doctor Christmas Specials, 2012, certificate PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty affirms each person’s right to self-determination, but the values of Democracy, Respect and Tolerance call us to live as part of a community. This assembly encourages pupils to consider what they can choose to do with their lives that will make a difference for the common good.

OPENING ACTIVITY

What Would You Do? (quiz)

Download the What Would You Do PowerPoint for use with this activity.

  • PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Explain to the students that you are going to ask them a series of multiple-choice questions about how they would respond to moments of crisis. You will need to click through the options on the PowerPoint.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Question 1: Walking home from school, you notice an old man drop his wallet. Some of the local toughs have also noticed, and they gesture you to keep quiet. What do you do?
    • 1. a) Call out to the man and return his wallet to him. If the toughs don’t like it, that’s just, well, tough.
    • 2. b) Nothing. You’d like to help the man – he doesn’t look like he can afford to lose his wallet – but you know that if you do, the toughs will take it out on you. His money isn’t worth taking a beating.
    • 3. c) Make sure you’re closer to the wallet than the toughs, and as soon as the man is out of sight, you pick it up and run. Not towards the man though – you’re keeping it for yourself.
    • 4. d) If the old man wanted the money, he should take better care of it. What’s it got to do with you?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Question 2: You are on your way for a date, when you see someone lying unconscious on the side of the road. What do you do?
    • 1. a) Immediately go to see what’s wrong. Call an ambulance and stay with them until it arrives. You can explain everything to your date later.
    • 2. b) Who knows what happened to them. Perhaps whoever attacked them is still hanging around. Best not to get involved.
    • 3. c) Immediately go to see what’s wrong and then call your date as soon as you can – getting to play the hero makes you seem much more attractive.
    • 4. d) Who knows how late you’ll be if you get involved. You’ve got big plans for tonight, and nobody – conscious or not – is going to get in the way.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Question 3: A house is on fire, and a woman is outside screaming, ‘My baby! My baby!’ What do you do?
    • 1. a) Immediately run into the building to find the missing baby and bring it out to safety.
    • 2. b) You feel bad for the woman, but that fire could seriously hurt! Phone 999 and leave this one to the professionals.
    • 3. c) Hang around until someone else goes into the building, but make sure that you’re on hand to help when they come out. You can get your share of the credit without taking any risks.
    • 4. d) Ignore it. If she’s so concerned about the baby, how come she’s not going back into the house?
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Question 4: Your school passes on a request for people to volunteer to help old people with their shopping on a weekly basis. What do you do?
    • 1. a) Not only do you volunteer to help, you also volunteer to organise the helpers’ rota and fill in for any gaps. At their stage in life, old people deserve a bit of compassion and help.
    • 2. b) Old people smell. What if your friends started teasing you about hanging around with them? No thanks.
    • 3. c) Your first instinct is to do nothing – you don’t want your studies (or social life) to suffer. But then you realise that this could look good on your cv, so you volunteer. Sometimes you even turn up to do what you said you would.
    • 4. d) Why should you carry someone else’s shopping? You’ve got better things to do.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Question 5: You are in the local corner shop when you notice some kids shoplifting. What do you do?
    • 1. a) Block the exit and inform the shopkeeper what you saw. He probably can’t afford to lose stock, and the kids need to be kept from a life of crime.
    • 2. b) You feel bad for the shopkeeper, but what if the kids turned nasty? What if they’ve got big brothers who would get you back? Best to do nothing.
    • 3. c) Stand by the door and ask the shopkeeper if he gives a reward for people who catch shoplifters. If what he offers is good enough, tell him about the thieving kids.
    • 4. d) It’s really not your problem. If the shopkeeper cared about his stock, he’d watch kids in his shop more carefully. Why should you get involved?
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • If you answered mostly A:
    • You are brave and selfless, always ready to jump into action as soon as you see danger. It may not always be the wisest choice, but when has that ever stopped you?
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • If you answered mostly B:
    • It’s not that you don’t care about other people, it’s just that you are too scared of what might happen to you. Some things are too important to not put yourself on the line for.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • If you answered mostly C:
    • You’re willing to take risks to help others, but only when you can see what’s in it for you. You have everything you need to be a real hero, except the ability to put others first.
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • If you answered mostly D:
    • You are so unengaged in what goes on around you, it’s a wonder that you even notice anyone else. Everything that happens seems to be someone else’s problem, not yours. But remember, one day it might be you that needs someone else’s help.
    • After completing the quiz, inform the students that in today’s assembly you are going to be thinking about what difference individuals can make to our world.

They Came For…(something to listen to)

Download the They Came For… PowerPoint for use with this activity.

  • Explain that Martin Niemoller was a German clergyman who, like many others, did nothing to oppose the early stages of the Nazi regime in the 1930s. The following quote is widely attributed to him, although there is some dispute as to the precise wording and it is likely that he is responsible for many different formulations of the same idea over the years. We suggest you read the quote out, rather than just expect the students to read it for themselves. You might like to expand on the quote, explaining how Niemoller described the inactivity of German intellectuals as a result of not seeing how helping apparently unrelated groups was also in their own interests.
  • Niemoller was imprisoned in 1937 for ‘not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement’ and released in 1945, when he became a leading voice of penance and reconciliation.
  • As well as being suitable as an opening activity, this presentation could alternatively be used as a reflection as a response to the talk. The text will reveal gradually on the slide without the need to click.
  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
    • Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
    • Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
    • Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for meMartin Niemoller
    • Explain that in the rest of today’s assembly, you are going to be thinking about the difference it makes to the world when people like us decide we are – or aren’t – going to help others.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from Doctor Who: The Snowmen (BBC DVD, 2012, certificate PG).
    • Start time: 0.09.02 (beginning of chapter 3 of the DVD)
    • End time: 0.10.28
    • Clip length: 1 minute and 26 seconds
  • The clip starts with a view through an infra-red sight. The first line is Strax (Dan Starkey) saying, ‘They’ve taken samples from snowmen all over London’. The last line is the Doctor (Matt Smith) saying, ‘we have problems of our own’.
  • The clip shows Strax (the Doctor’s Sontaran companion) and the Doctor arguing over the Doctor’s current apathy in the face of situations where he would previously have come to people’s aid.

TALK

Download the Community Doctor Who Snowmen Talk PowerPoint with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Have you ever tried something that worked out so badly that you’ve thought, ‘I’m never doing that again’? Perhaps some fashion mistakes: [click]hair cuts or clothes that really didn’t make you look as good as you thought they would. [click]Perhaps you tried to fix something and then realised that you didn’t know what you were doing. [click]Maybe you tried to help someone around the house, and quickly found yourself way out of your depth.
    • When we’re faced with difficult situations, it’s easy to just give up, to think that we can’t make a difference, so why bother anyway? Let’s watch a clip from a television show featuring a character who feels something like that:
    • Play the clip from Doctor Who: The Snowmen:
      • Start time: 0.09.02 (beginning of chapter 3 of the DVD)
      • End time: 0.10.28
      • Clip length: 1 minute and 26 seconds
    • The clip starts with a view through an infra-red sight. The first line is Strax (Dan Starkey) saying, ‘They’ve taken samples from snowmen all over London’. The last line is the Doctor (Matt Smith) saying, ‘we have problems of our own’.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘In the 2012 Christmas episode of Doctor Who, we meet the Doctor after he has lost his companions Amy and Rory forever. He’s not taken it well, and is now refusing to take up his former role as roving saviour of the universe. When he finds people in trouble now, his attitude is that it’s not his problem.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • We may not have been through the same traumatic losses as the Doctor, but it’s easy for us to feel that there’s no point in putting ourselves out there, as we can’t make any difference. Why should we try to make the world better when anything we can do will only be a drop in the ocean?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The prophet Micah lived in Israel in the eighth Century BC. [click] It was a time when Israel was failing badly in its attempts to follow God’s ways, and Micah was one of a series of prophets to point out the error of their ways. [click] One of the big problems at the time was that the rich and powerful didn’t seem to care very much about the poor and powerless. Micah reminded them that God cared about the people who didn’t have a voice, and he expected all of his people to share that concern. Here’s what he had to say, summing up what God requires of his people:
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • 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
    • Notice that the passage doesn’t say that God’s people are responsible for making everything better, simply for how they behave in a bad situation. All that is required is this: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
    • Whether we believe in God or not, there is wisdom in there. If we want to do what is right – rather than what will make a difference – we will want to do whatever we can. We might be surprised to see that our small actions have a bigger effect than we think. If we love mercy, that will show itself in how we treat other people. When we extend mercy to others, treating them as we would want to be treated, not necessarily because we think they deserve it but because we love mercy, we will, in lots of small ways, make the world better. For a Christian, walking humbly with God means remembering who we are and who he is. Trusting him to take care of the big stuff and being willing to be used as part of his plans. For anyone, regardless of religious belief, walking humbly means not putting too much importance on our own situation and thinking of the needs of others.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Of course, by the end of the episode, the Doctor is back to his meddling, do-gooder best, saving the world with a merry quip and a steadfast belief that bow-ties are cool. We may not have the same tools at our disposal as him, but all of us are in a position to make the world a better place, [click] simply by doing what is right, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Community Doctor Who Snowmen Talk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Ever thought ‘I’m not doing that again’?
      • [click]Fashion mistakes.
      • [click]Trying to fix something.
      • [click]Helping out around the house.
      • It’s easy to give up, to think we can’t make a difference
    • Introduce clip from Doctor Who: the Snowmen:
      • Start time: 0.09.02 (beginning of chapter 3 of the DVD)
      • End time: 0.10.28
      • Clip length: 1 minute and 26 seconds
    • The clip starts with a view through an infra-red sight. The first line is Strax (Dan Starkey) saying, ‘They’ve taken samples from snowmen all over London’. The last line is the Doctor (Matt Smith) saying, ‘we have problems of our own’.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • We may not have suffered like the Doctor, but we can think there’s no point in us trying to make a difference.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The prophet Micah.
      • Lived in Israel in 8th Century BC.
      • Micah told Israel how it was failing to follow God.
      • [click] The rich didn’t care about the poor.
      • [click] Micah reminded them that God wanted everyone to share his concern for everyone else.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • 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
    • NB: The passage doesn’t talk about outcomes, it talks about what people have to do:
      • Do what is right.
      • Love mercy.
      • Walk humbly with God.
    • Wisdom there, whether we believe in God or not.
    • If we want to do what is right, we will do whatever we can, even if we don’t think it will make a difference.
    • The effect of our actions might surprise us.
    • If we love mercy, that will show in how we treat other people.
    • That improves the world in lots of small ways.
    • For a Christian, walking humbly with God means remembering who he is and trusting him with the end results of what we do.
    • For all of us, walking humbly means thinking of others’ needs, not just our own.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Soon Doctor returns to his meddling, do-gooder best.
    • We may not be the Doctor, but we can all make the world a better place.
    • [click] By doing what is right, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.

RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you that your love is for all people, and you call us to have the same concern for everyone. Help us to see that we can make a difference with the things we do and the things we say. Help us to be people who do the right thing, who love mercy and who walk humbly with you. Amen.

Reflection

  • Do you ever think there’s no point in doing something to help others? How would you feel if others decided not to help you for the same reasons? Why not decide now that you are going to do something each day to help someone less fortunate than you, and see what happens as a result of that?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. A copy of the Doctor Who episode The Snowmen (on the BBC DVD, Doctor Who – The Time of the Doctor & Other Eleventh Doctor Christmas Specials, 2012, certificate PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. What Would You Do PowerPoint.
  3. They Came For… PowerPoint.
  4. Community Doctor Who Snowmen Talk PowerPoint.

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