Ethos Education

The Greatest Showman – This Is Me

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Assembly Objective:

  • How do we respond to being treated badly by others? This assembly explores how to tackle injustice on a personal and global scale, and presents a biblical response to the question of how we should treat those who are different to us. It encourages students to demonstrate kindness and empathy towards others.

Film:

  • The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The values of Respect and Tolerance lead us to accept people as they are. But when the views of others conflict with those we hold, or when they discriminate against particular groups of people, a response is required.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Real Life Guess Who (Fun activity)

Choose two volunteers to come to the front of the assembly and play the game Guess Who? Divide the room in half and assign a player to each half. Ask them to choose one person without revealing who they’ve chosen. Ask everyone in the room to stand up (if that’s not practical you can invite people to put their hand up or make some sort of signal). In turn, the players must try and guess who their opponent has chosen by asking Yes/No elimination questions (e.g. Is the person wearing glasses? Is the person wearing a jersey? Does the person have long hair? etc.). As categories of people are eliminated they can sit down. The aim of the game is to be the player who guesses with the least questions.

If your group is too large then ask for about ten volunteers to come and stand at the front as the ‘characters’ and play as above.

Thank the volunteers and make the point that picking people on the basis of physical appearance can be hurtful and divisive. Explain that in today’s assembly the group is going to think about how we categorise people in life by looks, class or status.


FILM CLIP

The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.

  • Start time: 00:51:00 (beginning of chapter 12)
  • End time: 00:57:44
  • Clip length: 6 minutes 44 seconds
  • The clip begins with P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) introducing the singer, Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), to his wife, Charity (Michelle Williams), and children at a reception. The reception is to celebrate a performance Barnum has arranged, and during it Charity’s estranged parents appear. Barnum is unable to hold his tongue about how they have treated him, and his father-in-law responds, ‘All that fortune, and still just the tailor’s boy’. Barnum demands that he leaves. Charity follows with their daughters. Jenny toasts Barnum, then tells him that she sometimes doesn’t feel like she belongs here. She reveals that she was born out of wedlock, bringing shame upon her family, and that life has a way of reminding her that she doesn’t deserve a place in the world. Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), the bearded lady, arrives at the door with the cast of circus performers, demanding to be let into the celebrations. Barnum refuses to let them attend the reception and closes the door in their faces. Lettie then sings the song, This Is Me and the rest of the cast joins in.

TALK

Download the This Is Me PowerPoint for use with this talk.

Scripted Talk

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Many of us worry about what other people think of us. In fact, our social media culture encourages us to compare ourselves to other people, and to try and get as many ‘likes’ as we can, and we all understand what it feels like to be left out, or made to feel as though we don’t belong. It’s hurtful and it’s not right.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • There’s a famous rhyme that is meant to help when we are picked on by people who want to wear us down, whether to our faces or behind our backs. I’m sure you recognise it:
    • ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.’
    • But I wonder if you think it’s true. On one level, being physically attacked is more painful than being called a name, but on another, being called a name, being left out or being made to feel less important than someone else, can leave an emotional scar. You can’t see it on the outside, but you feel hurt on the inside, and that hurt can last for years.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • If you have ever been made to feel hurt like that, then you will understand what is going on in the clip we are going to watch from The Greatest Showman. There are a number of characters in this scene who have been left out or made to feel less important. As you watch it, I’d like you to pay particular attention to how the various people respond to their hurt.
    • Play the clip from The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert PG).
      • Start time: 00:51:00 (beginning of chapter 12)
      • End time: 00:57:44
      • Clip length: 6 minutes 44 seconds
    • The clip begins with P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) introducing the singer, Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), to his wife, Charity (Michelle Williams), and children at a reception. The reception is to celebrate a performance Barnum has arranged, and during it Charity’s estranged parents appear. Barnum is unable to hold his tongue about how they have treated him, and his father-in-law responds, ‘All that fortune, and still just the tailor’s boy’. Barnum demands that he leaves. Charity follows with their daughters. Jenny toasts Barnum, then tells him that she sometimes doesn’t feel like she belongs here. She reveals that she was born out of wedlock, bringing shame upon her family, and that life has a way of reminding her that she doesn’t deserve a place in the world. Lettie Lutz (Keala Settle), the bearded lady, arrives at the door with the cast of circus performers, demanding to be let into the celebrations. Barnum refuses to let them attend the reception and closes the door in their faces. Lettie then sings the song, This Is Me and the rest of the cast joins in.
    • We saw a number of reactions to being excluded. Let’s list them first of all then think about how we react to being hurt.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • The first reaction was from P.T. Barnum himself. In the scene we watched, he was a highly successful man. His circus was pulling in crowds, the concert he had produced had gone well, he was wealthy, and was happily married with two children. He appeared to have everything. But because he’d been hurt and excluded as a child by Charity’s father, he still carried a deep hurt inside. He chose to respond to the comment that he was ‘still just the tailor’s boy’ by losing his temper and embarrassing Charity by telling her parents to leave. He chose to respond with revenge.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • The second reaction we saw was Jenny Lind. Again, she appeared to be successful and confident, but because of her family circumstances, she revealed to Barnum that she never felt as though she belonged in the world. She chose to respond to the hurt by putting on a brave face and pretending to be confident.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The third reaction was the one we saw from the cast of the circus, and especially from Lettie, the bearded lady. All her life she had faced ridicule and embarrassment, and now the one person who had had faith in her was choosing to exclude her and the others. Because the film is a musical, her reaction was to sing a song! (you can see the lyrics here) but there is a reason songs are included in musicals. They often come at a point when a character is feeling a strong emotion, and the only way to express it is to sing it out. In Lettie’s case, her song was full of anger and confidence that proclaimed that she wasn’t going to let anyone pull her down again. Her response was one of anger and determination.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • A phrase you might sometimes hear is one that says:
    • ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’
    • Kelly Clarkson sang it, but a German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said it first.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • I wonder if any of those responses feel familiar to you. Perhaps you’ve experienced an anger that causes you to want to take revenge and hurt the person who has excluded or put you down. Perhaps you’ve been hurt, but you’ve chosen to bury your feelings and pretend that you are confident, but you still sometimes feel as though you don’t quite belong. Perhaps, you’ve channelled your hurt in to protesting and being utterly determined that nobody is going to tell you who you are.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • All of these responses are understandable. It’s right to be angry when someone excludes us or makes us feel less than we are. It’s also right to stand up for other people when we see them being put down or made to feel unimportant.
    • But being angry, putting on a brave face and being determined doesn’t help us to deal with the hurt inside.
    • One of the things that made Jesus Christ so different from any other leader was what he taught about how we treat our enemies.
    • In the Bible there is a famous passage called the Sermon on the Mount. This was a talk that Jesus gave to his followers on a mountainside. In it, Jesus gives his followers instructions on how to build a solid life. Here are some verses from the sermon about how we should treat people who hurt us:
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Matthew 5:38-42:
    • ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’
    • That is a radical thing to say. Jesus is not saying get angry, get revenge, get confident, bury the words, pretend you’re OK. Jesus is saying if someone hits you on the face, let them hit you again. If someone sues you for your shirt, give them your coat as well. If someone makes you walk a mile, walk two miles. Let me explain what that is about. Jesus lived in the Roman Empire. If you were a Roman subject, then a soldier could force you to carry his head pack for a mile. You had no choice but to do what he commanded and, as you can imagine, everyone who lived in the Roman Empire felt angry about how they were being treated. Jesus understood what it felt like to be excluded and badly treated, but he still told his followers that the best response to being hurt was to forgive and offer to do more for the person. In other words, Jesus told his followers to fight exclusion and mistreatment with kindness and love.
    • That may seem like a strange idea to us. Surely it’s better to get angry and determined that nobody is going to put us down? But what if Jesus knew that those things would only ever cover up our hurt, they would take away the power of the words to hurt us? What if by forgiving and loving and being kind to our enemies we actually take away any power that their actions or words have to hurt us any more?
    • You see, people who are hurt can often end up hurting others. So, in the clip that we watched, P.T. Barnum had been hurt by his father-in-law, and he went on to hurt Lettie and others. By choosing not to take revenge or to pass on the hurt, we take away its power.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • It’s hard to choose love over hatred, but I wonder how different our world and our school would be, if we all chose to do that. It starts with the small things. Not lashing out at others. Not always wanting to have the last word. Not getting our own back.
    • It’s something to think about.

Headings and Bullets

Download the This Is Me PowerPoint for use with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Many of us worry about what other people think of us.
    • Culture encourages us to compare ourselves to other people.
    • We all understand what it feels like to be left out.
    • It’s hurtful and it’s not right.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
    • Being physically attacked is more painful than being called a name.
    • Being called a name, being left out or being made to feel less important than someone else, can leave an emotional scar.
    • The hurt can last for years.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Introduce the clip.
    • There are a number of characters in this scene who have been left out or made to feel less important.
    • Pay particular attention to how the various people respond to their hurt.
    • Play the clip from The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert PG).
      • Start time: 00:51:00 (beginning of chapter 12)
      • End time: 00:57:44
      • Clip length: 6 minutes 44 seconds
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • P.T. Barnum was a highly successful man.
    • He appeared to have everything.
    • But because he’d been hurt and excluded as a child by Charity’s father, he still carried a deep hurt inside.
    • He chose to respond with revenge.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • Jenny Lind appeared to be successful and confident.
    • But because of her family circumstances she never felt as though she belonged in the world. She chose to respond to the hurt by putting on a brave face and pretending to be confident.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Lettie, the bearded lady:
    • Now the one person who had had faith in her was choosing to exclude her and the others.
    • Lettie’s song was full of anger and confidence that proclaimed that she wasn’t going to let anyone pull her down again.
    • Her response was one of anger and determination.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • Whatever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.
    • Kelly Clarkson sang it, but Friedrich Nietzsche, said it first.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • Familiar responses; perhaps you’ve experienced an anger that causes you to want to take revenge and hurt the person who has excluded or put you down.
    • Perhaps you’ve been hurt, but you’ve chosen to bury your feelings and pretend that you are confident, but you still sometimes feel as though you don’t quite belong.
    • Perhaps, you’ve channelled your hurt in to protesting and being utterly determined that nobody is going to tell you who you are.
  • [PowerPoint slide 9]
    • All of these responses are understandable.
    • It’s right to be angry when someone excludes us.
    • It’s right to stand up for other people.
    • But being angry, putting on a brave face and being determined doesn’t help us to deal with the hurt inside.
    • Jesus’ response:
    • One of the things that made Jesus Christ so different from any other leader was what he taught about how we treat our enemies.
    • Sermon on the Mount.
    • Some verses from the sermon about how we should treat people who hurt us:
  • [PowerPoint slide 10]
    • Matthew 5:38-42:
    • ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.”  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’
    • Radical response:
    • Jesus is not saying get angry, get revenge, get confident, bury the words, pretend you’re OK. Jesus is saying if someone hits you on the face, let them hit you again.
    • If someone sues you for your shirt, give them your coat as well.
    • If someone makes you walk a mile, walk two miles.
    • If you were a Roman subject, then a soldier could force you to carry his head pack for a mile. You had no choice but to do what he commanded and, as you can imagine, everyone who lived in the Roman Empire felt angry about how they were being treated.
    • Jesus understood what it felt like to be excluded and badly treated, but he still told his followers that the best response to being hurt was to forgive and offer to do more for the person.
    • Fight exclusion and mistreatment with kindness and love.
    • A strange idea to us; what if Jesus knew that those things would only ever cover up our hurt, they would take away the power of the words to hurt us?
    • What if by forgiving and loving and being kind to our enemies we actually take away any power that their actions or words have to hurt us anymore?
    • People who are hurt can often end up hurting others.
    • P.T. Barnum had been hurt by his father-in-law, and he went on to hurt Lettie and others.
    • By choosing not to take revenge or to pass on the hurt, we take away its power.
  • [PowerPoint slide 11]
    • Choose love over hatred.
    • How different our world and our school would be, if we all chose to do that?
    • Small things.
    • Not lashing out at others.
    • Not always wanting to have the last word.
    • Not getting our own back.

Photo Copyright for This is me PowerPoint: Slide 1 20th Century Fox / Slide 2 stones Pixabay.com thorns Pixabay.com / Slide 3 20th Century Fox / Slide 4 20th Century Fox / Slide 5 20th Century Fox / Slide 6 20th Century Fox / Slide 7 Public domain / Slide 8 and 11 iStockphoto.com / Slide 9 Pixabay.com / Slide 10 image 3 LUMO Project / Slide 12 Pixabay.com


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Father God, all of us have been hurt in our lives. All of us have hurt other people too. Help us to respond with love, forgiveness and kindness. When we are angry about how others are treated, please help us to stand up for what is right. Amen.

Reflection

  • [PowerPoint slide 12]
    • Ask the students to consider the questions:
      • Have I been hurt by someone?
      • Can I choose to forgive them?
      • Do I need to speak to someone about it?
    • Make sure that you make it clear that they may need to get help from a teacher or another trusted adult, and explain how they can do that.

 YOU WILL NEED:

  1. A copy of The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox, 2017, cert PG). Click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. This Is Me PowerPoint.
  3. (Optional) Click here for This is Me lyrics.

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