Ethos Education

Star Trek Beyond: How should I consider people who are different to me?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Awareness of the causes and results of prejudice.
  • Awareness of the consequences of prejudice and discrimination.
  • Understanding of Christian teaching about prejudice as a concept.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect upon the way preconceptions can influence how we think of other people.
  • Evaluate two different approaches to diversity and conflict from the film Star Trek Beyond.
  • Analyse biblical teaching that relates to prejudice and discrimination.
  • Synthesise learning by writing a letter to a newspaper on the subject of attitudes towards diversity.

Supporting Values Education:

The values of mutual tolerance and respectful attitudes to those who are different to ourselves is based on a belief that all humans are of equal worth. This lesson encourages students to consider the part played by prejudice in undermining such respect, and to understand the Christian basis for showing respect to others.


Put the students in pairs, and give each student a copy of the Guess Who? Faces handout. Explain that you are going to play a game of Psychological Guess Who? You might prefer to have just one pair of students play the game in front of the class (or one student competing against you) using the equipment from the original Guess Who? game. Click here to buy the game from Amazon if you wish to do this.

In the classic version of the game Guess Who?, one player chooses one person from a selection of characters and the other player has to identify the chosen character by asking yes or no questions such as ‘Are you male?’ or ‘Do you wear glasses?’ and eliminating possible suspects as a result of the answers. In Psychological Guess Who?, students have to ask less quantifiable questions, such as ‘Do you have an inferiority complex?’, ‘Do you have a difficult relationship with your father?’, or ‘Are you generous with money?’ The first player decides the appropriate answer for their chosen character and answers either yes or no. The second player then decides which of the remaining characters they think should be eliminated, and continues until they are down to one character. If this is the same character that the first player chose, they win.

If students ask how they are supposed to determine the answers to these questions, tell them to use their judgement and decide which faces to eliminate on the basis of the answers. Of course, it is entirely possible – if not almost certain – that the two players will come to different conclusions about the respective characters in the game, one of them deciding that Fiona was, for example, a Mummy’s girl and the other deciding that she wasn’t.

Ask the students if any players managed to correctly identify their partner’s chosen character, and congratulate anyone who achieved this unlikely feat. Ask why the game was so difficult, and draw out that all the answers were based on the random prejudices of the players, deciding all sorts of things about the characters without having a firm basis for any of their conclusions. Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about prejudice, and looking at Christian teaching that relates to the problems of prejudice and discrimination.


Introduce the clip from Star Trek Beyond (Paramount 2016, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online. Explain that the Enterprise has crash landed, and most of the surviving crew have been taken prisoner by a mysterious alien called Krall (Idris Elba). In this scene, he reveals his intention to attack a Federation Space Station, justifying his actions by praising the value of conflict and struggle as a means to establishing one’s own identity. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the different perspectives offered by Krall and the members of the Enterprise crew.

  • Start time: 50.13 (beginning of chapter six of the DVD)
  • End time: 52.24
  • Clip length: Two minutes and eleven seconds

The clip starts with Krall escorting two of his prisoners, Sulu (John Cho) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana). The first line is Krall saying, ‘You think you know what sacrifice really means.’ The clip ends after Sulu and Uhura witness Krall draining life energy from two other Federation prisoners.

Ask why Krall thinks that conflict is good? Remind the students of his comment that, ‘Federation has taught you that conflict should not exist, but without struggle you would never know who you truly are.’ Do the students agree with that – is conflict a potentially good thing, or is it always a bad thing? What about Uhura’s comment that, ‘there is strength in unity’?

Draw out the fundamental difference between the two points of view: Krall arguing that by defining ourselves in opposition to those who are different, we gain a better understanding of who we are; Uhura believing that by seeking common ground and overcoming differences we are more likely to achieve a better situation for ourselves and also for others. Ask the students if they can think of examples from the real world, particularly things currently happening in Britain or other parts of the world, which reflect these two different ways of looking at the issue of diversity.

Working together in small groups, ask the students to read Matthew 5:43-48, and Luke 10:25-37 and discuss what the passages have to say about the subject of prejudice. Explain that one of the causes of discrimination is that sometimes people tend to be more welcoming and trusting of people who they think are like them (i.e., the same social class, the same race, the same political views, etc). Jesus points out that it is easy to be pleasant to the people who we like, but he tells his followers that they should show love to everyone. Ask the students to suggest some of the practical implications of ‘loving your enemy’. If people attempted to live like this, what difference would it make to situations affected by prejudice?


Ask students to choose a real-life example where people show different attitudes towards diversity and to write a letter to a newspaper from the perspective of a Christian who is concerned by some of the attitudes he or she sees around him or her.


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