Ethos Education

The Peanut Butter Falcon: What makes life valuable?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Explore Christian ideas about sanctity of life.
  • Consider why Christians might have differing views about abortion.
  • Understand the views of abortion campaigners.
  • Give a personal response to the question of what makes a life valuable.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will communicate personal opinions about the value of life.
  • Apply their ideas considering in which cases they might find abortion to be an appropriate choice and what gives value to the lives of the characters in the film clip.
  • Enquire into the concept of sanctity of life, and why it is important to Christians.
  • Contextualise Christian views by considering how they fit with the views of campaigners who hope to change the law on abortion.
  • Evaluate Christian views, the campaigners’ ideas, and their own values, by writing a letter, leaflet or film scene about the abortion debate.

Supporting Values Education:

British values encourage citizens to engage democratically with the law. This lesson allows students to consider a much debated part of the law and present their own considered responses to it. The lesson promotes understanding of those who are different to the students, and tolerance of religious views. Students may need help to approach these subjects sensitively, recognising that there will be a range of opinions and experiences represented within the class.


Ask the students to consider and then discuss what they hope to be or do in the future. Then ask them to write an answer to the question, what makes my life valuable?

Show the slideshow Your Pregnancy Week by Week on the NHS website (scroll down to the green slides, reading the learn more information for each slide. Ask the class to vote after each slide on whether or not the baby is alive at this point. When you have looked at all the pictures, ask a few students to guess the point up to which they think it is legal to have an abortion. Currently UK law allows an abortion up to 24 weeks. Abortions after 24 weeks are allowed if:

  • The woman’s life is in danger
  • There is a severe foetal abnormality
  • The woman is at risk of grave physical and mental injury

Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about whether or not this law should be changed and what makes a life valuable. Explain that you will explore their ideas, and look at what Christians believe based on what the Bible teaches about sanctity of life, and they will also hear from some of those directly affected by this debate: people living with Down Syndrome.


Give out copies of the Decision Diamond worksheet. Ask the students to decide which of the listed people’s lives are most valuable (ie. who would they choose to save first in an emergency) and write them into spaces on the diamond. The higher the person is placed on the diamond, the more valuable their life is. Encourage students to think of their own examples to go in the very top and very bottom spaces. What kind of person would they consider to be most and least valuable? Ask a few students to share their completed worksheet and justify their choices.

Show the clip from The Peanut Butter Falcon (Signature Entertainment, 2020, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online. Explain that this clip shows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down’s Syndrome who hopes to be a professional wrestler. His friend, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), agrees to help him train. Ask the students to consider what Zak is like, and what might make his life valuable.

  • Start time: 0.43.13 (Chapter 3 of the DVD).
  • End time: 0.45.12.
  • Clip length: 1 minute and 59 seconds.

The clip starts with Tyler squinting from under his red cap while Zak speaks to him from off screen. The first line is Zak saying, ‘I wanna learn.’ It ends with Zak and Tyler doing their secret handshake. For a longer clip with more potential for discussion, you could start the clip at 0.39.19 with Zak laughing maniacally. However, you will need to be prepared for strong language at 0.40.15, 0.40.22, 0.40.52, 0.41.01, 0.41.33, and 0.43.09.

Ask the students for some words to describe Zak. Encourage them to focus on his character rather than his appearance, and challenge any inappropriate comments. Would they consider his life to be more or less valuable than their own? Ask the students to briefly review their Decision Diamonds. Is there anything they would like to change?

Explain that Christians believe all human life is valuable. This concept is known as sanctity of life. Give out copies of the Sanctity of Life worksheet. Ask the students to look up the Bible passages and summarise each one. They should use this information to complete the paragraph below:

Christians believe in the sanctity of life. This means… They think this because… Some Christians might be completely against abortion because… Other Christians might support abortion in some cases because…


Hand out copies of the BBC news article, Down’s syndrome: Campaigners say abortions ‘need 24-week limit’. Ask students to read it carefully, noting what the law says about abortion when the baby may have Down’s Syndrome. Discuss as a class to find three reasons why some campaigners disagree with the law as it stands.

Offer the students a choice of ways to evaluate their learning and communicate their ideas about this issue. They should choose one of the following tasks:

  • Write to their local MP explaining their views on abortion law and why they think it should, or shouldn’t, be changed.
  • Create a leaflet to give to pregnant Christian women whose baby may have Down’s Syndrome summarising the law and giving advice for their situations.
  • Write a scene for the film The Peanut Butter Falcon where the characters discuss abortion law and Zak gives his opinion.

In their responses, all students should include an explanation of the concept of sanctity of life. They should also include at least one verse from the Bible, and a personal opinion about these concepts.


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