Ethos Education

The Amazing Spider-Man: Standing Strong

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Assembly Objective: 

  • How can we respond to bullies? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about being united with people as a community.

Film: 

  • The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony, 2012, 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 we can join with others for the common good.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Magic Bully (illustration)

  • Invite a volunteer (who needs to be briefed in advance so that they know how you are going to treat them) to help you on stage as you attempt to perform a simple magic trick (see below). This will be more effective if the volunteer is a student rather than a teacher, but it needs to be one who is robust enough to cope with what you are going to do to them. Throughout the trick, berate your volunteer, criticising them for getting things wrong, being too slow and anything else you can think of. Once you have finished, explain to the students that you aren’t really that nasty, and that your volunteer had agreed to have you treat them like that to help make a point. Explain that today’s assembly is going to look further at the subject of bullying.
  • The Walk Through Paper trick – see http://www.kidzone.ws/magic/walkthrough.htm – would work well for this activity, particularly if your volunteer doesn’t mind looking stupid by messing up the cutting and incurring your wrath. There are other free magic tricks explained online at http://www.kidzone.ws/magic/ which you may prefer to use.

They Came For… (something to watch)

Download the They Came for PowerPoint with this activity. The quotes on the slide will come up automatically.

  • 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.
  • [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 me. Martin Niemoller.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the clip from The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony, 2012, certificate 12)
    • Start time:       0.03.58 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
    • End time:         0.06.36
    • Clip length:      2 minutes and 38 seconds
  • The clip starts with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) pinning up a photo of the school debating team. It ends with everyone walking away as Peter picks himself up from the playground floor.
  • The clip shows Peter ignoring low-level intimidation from Flash (Chris Zylka), but then refusing to join in with Flash bullying another boy. Peter is only saved from a beating by the intervention of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone).

TALK

Download the Bullying Amazing Spider-Man PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What do you do about bullies? There are different tactics you could try. The easiest one is to do whatever they want you to, but that doesn’t really deal with the problem. Perhaps you could just try to keep out of their way, to hope that they pick on someone else. That doesn’t solve the problem either, but at least it makes it someone else’s problem, not yours. Or you can stand up to them. Here’s a clip from the film The Amazing Spider-Man. In this scene Peter Parker hasn’t got any special powers yet, he’s just an ordinary high-school student. Take a look and see the different approaches he takes when confronted by intimidation and bullying.
    • Play the clip from The Amazing Spider-Man:
      • Start time:       0.03.58 (in chapter 1 of the DVD)
      • End time:         0.06.36
      • Clip length:     2 minutes and 38 seconds
    • The clip starts with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) pinning up a photo of the school debating team. It ends with everyone walking away as Peter picks himself up from the playground floor.
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘Peter’s strategy seems to be to try to keep out of trouble, but when he is called upon to take a photo of another boy being humiliated, he refuses. He is only saved from a beating when the attractive and popular Gwen Stacy steps in to stop Flash Thompson from doing anything else to Peter.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Was Peter right to do what he did? If you were in his position would you have taken the photo?
    • A few minutes later in the film Gwen – the girl who stopped Flash – tells Peter that what he did was [click]  ‘Great… Great, but stupid’. Peter had to weigh up whether his own safety was worth risking to prevent someone else from suffering. As the earlier scenes suggested, Peter knew what it was like to be seen as a plaything for the bullies, someone whose dignity could be undermined for their entertainment, and he wasn’t willing to let someone else suffer like that. The fact that Peter knew he would make himself a target makes his action even more admirable. It was a great thing to do.
    • And was Gwen right with the other half of her assessment? Was it stupid? That’s a harder call. On one level, it was. It opened Peter up to far worse treatment than he might otherwise have expected, but it also sent a message that he wasn’t willing to just let Flash do whatever he wanted and treat people however he liked. It could have worked too if more people had followed his lead, as Gwen did. Bullies only hold power if enough people are willing to let them. When Gwen stood up to Flash as well, he stopped. If all of the crowd had stood up to Flash, he would have had to back down. When a community stands together, bullies have to change their ways. [If you used Opening Activity: Magic Bully, remind the students of their reaction to you humiliating your volunteer. How differently might things have gone if they had been more supportive of the volunteer and withheld their laughter and implicit support of your mockery?]
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The Bible tells us that: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12, New International Version.
    • A few verses before that, this passage talks about the woe for someone who is on their own and facing oppression, where all the power is in the hands of those who persecute them. When one person stands up to a bully, they are weak. When two stand together, they are stronger. Three or more become stronger still.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • When more of us join together against persecution, we can be strong enough to end it. Think about that the next time you’re tempted to pass the problem on to someone else.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Bullying Amazing Spider-Man PowerPoint for use with this presentation.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • What do you do about bullies?
      • Whatever they want – doesn’t deal with the problem.
      • Keep out of the way – passes the problem to someone else.
      • Stand up to them.
    • Introduce clip from The Amazing Spider-Man:
      • Peter Parker before gaining his powers.
      • See how he handles a bully.
    • Play the clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • What would you have done?
    • Gwen told Peter that what he did was [click]  ‘Great… Great, but stupid’.
      • Peter had to balance his own safety against someone else’s.
      • The earlier scenes showed he knew what it was like, and he decided not to let someone else suffer it.
      • It was a great thing to do.
    • Was Gwen right that it was also stupid?
      • A harder call.
      • It opened Peter up to harsher treatment.
      • It could have worked if more people had stood with him (like Gwen did).
      • Bullies only have power when people let them.
      • Refer to Opening Activity: Magic Bully if you used it.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • The Bible tells us that:
      • Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12, New International Version.
    • Standing up to a bully:
      • One person alone is weak.
      • Two people are stronger.
      • Three or more are stronger still.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • When even more of us join together, we can be strong enough to change things.
    • Think about that the next time you’re tempted to pass the problem on to someone else.

Photo Copyright for They Came for PowerPoint: J. D. Noske/Anefo 

Photo Copyright for Bullying Amazing Spider-Man Talk PowerPoint: Slide 1 Columbia Pictures Industries/Sony / Slide 2 Columbia Pictures Industries/Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc / Slide 3 iStockphoto.com / Slide 4 Jaimie Trueblood, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you that you hate injustice and you hate to see people picking on others. Help us to share your attitude towards bullying, and to do all that we can to side with the persecuted rather than the persecutors. Help all of us to see that how we treat one another matters, and to make this school community a place where everyone is valued and treated with respect. Amen.

Reflection

  • Thinking back to the film clip, what would you have done if you were in Peter Parker’s situation? Do you think you would have stood up to Flash, or would you have gone along with what he wanted you to do? How do you think the other boy felt when Peter refused to join in? What else could the other students watching the fight have done to change the way things developed? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What do you think you will do next time you face that kind of decision?

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony, 2012, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. They Came For PowerPoint.
  3. Bullying Amazing Spider-Man PowerPoint.
  4. Suitable props for whatever trick you are doing, plus a pre-briefed volunteer if you are using Opening Activity: Magic Bully.

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