Ethos Education

Inside Out: Free Will and Self Control

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Assembly Objective: 

  • Are we controlled by our emotions and desires? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about human freewill and responsibility for our actions.

Film: 

  • Inside Out (2015, Pixar Animation Studios, certificate U). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible: 

Supporting Values Education:

  • The values of Individual Liberty, Democracy and Rule of Law are based on the belief that humans are capable of making real decisions, rather than ones that are determined by our emotions or other involuntary responses. This assembly encourages pupils to consider human freewill and responsibility through learning about the season of Lent.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Don’t Chew (challenge)

  • Invite five or six children to join you at the front to take part in a challenge. Give each a marshmallow and tell them that they can put it into their mouth but they are not allowed to chew it until you tell them to do so. With the rest of the children, monitor the efforts of the volunteers to resist chewing. Try to break their resolve by eating a marshmallow in front of them and rhapsodising about its taste and ‘goodness’. Eliminate those who chew from the challenge until a winner emerges. If the resolve of none of the children breaks, declare them all winners.

FILM CLIP

  • Inside Out (Pixar Animation Studios, certificate U)
    • Start Time: 01:26:27
    • Finish Time: 01:28:22
    • Clip Length: 1 minute 55 seconds
  • The clip begins with the start of the credits and ends when the cat goes berserk.
    • If you cannot play the clip, say:
      • Riley’s teacher cannot help feeling bored and day dreaming about her summer holidays. The other people in her class cannot help acting ‘cool’ because they are feeling insecure. A clown cannot help feeling he is wasting his training by doing children’s parties. Despite his best efforts, Riley’s bus driver cannot help getting angry because he is stuck in a traffic jam. A dog cannot help chasing after a man with a burger and a cat cannot help going berserk for no real reason whatsoever.

TALK

Download the Inside Out Free Will Assembly PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Lead the Don’t Chew Challenge opening activity.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Discuss the challenge with the volunteers. Who found it difficult? Did any find it easy? Why was it so difficult (or easy)?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Introduce the idea of free will – the belief that whilst our urges and emotions affect our decisions, they do not determine them. In this challenge, which was stronger – the urge to chew or the will to resist? Is it always possible to resist doing the things we are not supposed to do? Is this the same for adults and children? What about for humans and animals? What about robots? How are we different from animals and robots? Can we freely choose how to act?
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Who has seen the film ‘Inside Out’? The film follows the story of an eleven year old called Riley who has to cope with her family’s decision to move house from the countryside to a large city. Riley’s reaction to this move is controlled by a team of emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger) who live inside her head. But Riley isn’t any different to every other person and animal in the film. They all appear to be controlled by their emotions.
    • Play the clip from Inside Out (Pixar Animation Studios, certificate U)
      • Start Time: 01:26:27
      • Finish Time: 01:28:22
      • Clip Length: 1 minute 55 seconds
    • The clip begins with the start of the credits and ends when the cat goes berserk.
      • If you cannot play the clip, say:
        • Riley’s teacher cannot help feeling bored and day dreaming about her summer holidays. The other people in her class cannot help acting ‘cool’ because they are feeling insecure. Despite his best efforts, Riley’s bus driver cannot help getting angry because he is stuck in a traffic jam. A dog cannot help chasing after a man with a burger and a cat cannot help going berserk for no real reason.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • The makers of Inside Out drew upon the work of scientists. But, is this how the human brain really works? Is there really no such thing as free will? Or are we doomed to be controlled by our emotions and urges forever?
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The Bible tells a different story about human beings. It says that we are able to rise above our emotions and urges. About two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of new Christians in a city called Corinth. These new Christians were finding it difficult to follow their new faith.  So Paul wrote to them saying:
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • ‘Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13 GNT).
    • Paul is telling them here that they are going through what everyone goes through but that they won’t be tested beyond what they can endure. They can trust God to help them to remain strong.
    • Unlike the story apparently told by Inside Out, we can rise above our emotions and are offered the power to help us.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • During the season of Lent, some Christians practise strengthening their free will by giving up treats and studying the Bible more regularly. If you observe Lent, in what ways would you choose to strengthen your free will? Who would you ask to help you in this task?
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • Lent lasts for forty days. Christians pray to God to help them through Lent.

Headings and Bullets

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • The Don’t Chew Challenge.
      • What can you do but chew?
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • The Don’t Chew Challenge.
      • Who found it difficult/easy?
      • Why?
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Free Will:
      • Humans can choose how to act.
      • Is this easier for adults or children?
      • What about animals?
      • What about robots?
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Inside Out:
      • Riley appears to be controlled by emotions. Are we?
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • According to Inside Out…
      • Free will does not seem to exist.
      • We appear to be controlled by our emotions.
      • Humans are apparently the same as all other animals.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • According to the Bible:
      • We are not controlled by our emotions and urges.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • 1 Corinthians 10: 13 (GNT)
      • We can rise above our emotions and are offered the power to help us.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Lent:
      • A time for Christians to strengthen their free will.
      • What would you give up?
      • Who could help you?
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • The Lord’s Prayer.

RESPOND 

Reflection

  • Do you find it difficult to resist acting upon your emotions?
  • Does this sometimes lead you to do things that you later regret?
  • What do you believe about human beings? Do we have free will so we can choose how we behave?
  • Can you think of small ways in which you can strengthen your free will and rise above your emotions?

Prayer

  • Recite the Lord’s prayer (on PowerPoint slide 9 or in whatever form you normally use).

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. Inside Out (2015, Pixar Animation Studios, certificate U). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. Inside Out Free Will Assembly PowerPoint.
  3. Marshmallows.

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