Ethos Education

Anonymous: Words Work

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Assembly Objective: 

  • Why do our words have a powerful effect? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about using words wisely, for good purposes.

Film:

  • Anonymous (Sony, 2011, certificate 12). 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 how they choose to use their power of speech and how words can be used to build up rather than knock down other people. 

OPENING ACTIVITY

Multiplying Words (something to think about)

Download the Communication Words Assembly PowerPoint with this activity.

  • Play the PowerPoint to demonstrate the proliferation of communication in recent years. The PowerPoint presentation has been set up to automatically move from slide to slide at the right times (there’s a blank slide initially but be careful not to click on the first slide as it will simply bring up the word ‘words’ and not display all the other words on slide 1). We suggest playing the presentation to the accompaniment of Wordy Rappinghood by Tom Tom Club, which is available to buy from Amazon.
  • The presentation will finish shortly after the tenth slide showing the Bible verse. You will need to fade the soundtrack out at this point.

Famous Writer Slamdown (something to do)

  • Explain to the students that you want them to help you to pick the greatest writer of all time ever. Choose four writers and arrange in advance for four volunteers (probably members of staff, but you could use students) each to be advocates for one of the writers. Each advocate has one minute to say why their writer deserves to be considered the champion, before the students vote to decide the matter. If you have enough time, you might want to do three votes – two semi-finals and then a final with each surviving advocate getting a further thirty seconds to make their champion’s case – but if not a four-way one-off vote will work fine.
  • Which four writers you use is up to you: we suggest allowing your advocates to choose a champion who they genuinely feel strongly about. Having said that, the link between this activity and the rest of the assembly will be much stronger if someone advocates for William Shakespeare. We’ve provided some suggestions below, in case you are struggling to find advocates with preferences of their own.
  • William Shakespeare
  • The most performed playwright in the world, he coined numerous figures of speech that have passed into common usage – ‘green-eyed monster’, ‘such stuff as dreams are made of’, ‘a foregone conclusion’, ‘with bated breath’, ‘the long-and-short of it’, and many more. The emotional depth of his characters was unlike anything his contemporaries were capable of, he uniquely mastered comedy, tragedy and historical drama, and he wore a natty little beard. Without William Shakespeare, both the English language and the world of contemporary drama would be unrecognisable today.
  • Jane Austen
  • Pride and Prejudice is consistently ranked as one of Britain’s favourite novels, and her fans would argue that her understanding of human nature and the foibles of courtship have rarely been matched since.
  • Charles Dickens
  • The leading story-teller of his day, and a leading advocate of social reform through his depiction of poverty and institutionalised social injustice.
  • Terry Pratchett
  • The most shop-lifted author in Britain, according to WH Smiths. Pratchett has redefined the world of comic-fantasy writing, with his Discworld series growing in both size and popularity, consistently delivering laughs while also directing satirical treatments of religion, death, the media, authority and much more.
  • Russell T. Davies
  • The man who brought Doctor Who back to our television screens, and turned the tide of Saturday evening television away from talent shows and back to edge-of-the-sofa drama. He made family entertainment that actually entertained the whole family.
  • After the students have chosen their favourite, explain that today’s assembly is going to be concerned with the power of words, and will feature a film clip from a film about William Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from Anonymous (Sony, 2011, certificate 12)
    • Start time:       0.09.38 (beginning of chapter 2 of the DVD)
    • End time:         0.10.22
    • Clip length:     44 seconds
  • The clip starts with Edward (Rhys Ifans) sitting in the umpire’s chair and saying, ‘Er… out. Henry, how many people were at that play?’ It ends with Edward saying ‘out’ in a withering tone of voice.
  • The clip shows Edward discussing the impact that the play he saw in a previous scene had on the audience. He discusses the relative merits of conventional political means – like an army – and the mobilising powers of drama on the common man.

TALK

Download the Communication Anonymous Assembly Talk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Words have power, and we underestimate them at our cost.
    • Not convinced? Think about the adverts we see on television. See how many of you know which companies or products these slogans are used to advertise: [Pause after each slogan and invite the students to suggest the correct answer].
    • [click] I’m lovin’ it (McDonalds); [click] Because you’re worth it (L’Oreal), [click] Just do it (Nike), [click] Simples (Compare the Market.com).
    • Words have power. If words didn’t have power, why would advertisers pay so much to the people who come up with those slogans, or pay television companies hundreds of thousands of pounds to play the adverts between shows? Why has politics become more concerned with soundbites that will play well on the television news – ‘We’re all in it together’, ‘Cutting too far too fast’ – and less concerned with the detail of political debate and discussion? Words have the power to carry an argument, to change an opinion and to shape the world.
    • Here’s a clip from the film Anonymous. The man in the umpire’s chair is Edward De Vere, a nobleman and political schemer in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. He’s also, according to this film, the man who actually wrote the complete works of Shakespeare.
    • Play the clip from Anonymous:
      • Start time:       0.09.38 (beginning of chapter 2 of the DVD)
      • End time:        0.10.22
      • Clip length:     44 seconds
    • The clip starts with Edward (Rhys Ifans) sitting in the umpire’s chair and saying, ‘Er… out. Henry, how many people were at that play?’ It ends with Edward saying ‘out’ in a withering tone of voice.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘In Anonymous, Edward is taken by the effect of a play he saw on the audience and becomes convinced that drama can be used as a powerful political weapon. One of his friends remains unconvinced, and says that he would rather keep his sword.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Edward realises that drama can change the way people think about the world, meaning that words are the most potent political weapon at his or anyone’s disposal. A sword may kill a man, but words can give life to an idea, and an idea can inspire a revolution.
    • The Bible tells us just how powerful words can be. This is what the book of James tells us about the power of the tongue:
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:3-5 (New International Version).
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Words, simple little words that we form with our tongue without even thinking about them, have the potential to do amazing things. Whether we’re talking about great writers like William Shakespeare, great politicians like Edward De Vere, or ordinary people like you and me, we all use words every day to negotiate our way through the world. We try to persuade, to entertain, to argue, to correct and to influence with our words.
    • The challenge for us is to use our words wisely, to use them for good purposes. The Bible passage goes on to point out the enormous potential for harm that we have with our words. [click] How do we make sure that we don’t hurt other people with the things we say? How do we ensure that our communication with others is a positive influence in the world?

Download the Communication Anonymous Assembly Talk PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Words have power:
      • Don’t underestimate them.
      • Think about adverts – which ones can you recognise?
      • [click] I’m lovin’ it (McDonalds).
      • [click] Because you’re worth it (L’Oreal).
      • [click] Just do it (Nike).
      • [click] Simples (Compare the Market.com).
    • Words have power,
      • Why else do people pay for adverts?
      • Why else do politicians craft soundbites?
    • Words can change an opinion and shape the world.
    • Introduce clip from Anonymous:
      • Umpire is Edward De Vere, nobleman and political schemer.
      • He also, says the film, wrote the complete works of Shakespeare.
      • Play the clip:
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Edward realises that drama can change the way people think about the world.
      • Words are the most potent weapon at his disposal.
      • A sword may kill a man, but words give life to an idea and can inspire a revolution.
    • The Bible tells us just how powerful words can be:
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3:3-5, New International Version.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Words have the potential to do great things.
    • All of us use words everyday to negotiate our way through the world.
    • Our challenge:
      • To use our words wisely.
      • Not to use them to cause harm.
      • [click] How do we make sure we don’t hurt others with our words?
      • How do we make our communication a positive influence on the world?

Photo Copyright for Communication Words Assembly PowerPoint: Slide 2 public domain / Slide 3 public domain / Slide 4 vlasta2 / Slide 5 public domain / Slide 6 Warner Bros / Slide 9 Jorge Royan

Photo Copyright for Communication Anonymous Assembly PowerPoint: Slide 2 Reiner Bajo, Columbia TriStar Marketing Group / Slide 3 Thowra_uk / Slide 4 and 5 iStockphoto.com


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you for making us with a desire to communicate with one another. Help us to use our words wisely, building others up rather than breaking them down. Amen.

Reflection

  • Have you ever thought about the power of words? How much power do your words have? Who has been helped today by something you said? Who has been hurt? How do you want your words to impact on the world and on the lives of other people? What might you do differently to make that happen?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. Anonymous (Sony, 2011, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Wordy Rappinghood by Tom Tom Club, which is available to buy from Amazon, if you are using Opening Activity: Multiplying Words.
  3. Communication Words Assembly PowerPoint.
  4. Communication Anonymous Assembly Talk PowerPoint.

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