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An unprejudiced heart

To consider our own prejudice, and to challenge students to resolve to try to stop acting according to that prejudice.

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To consider our own prejudice, and to challenge students to resolve to try to stop acting according to that prejudice.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. What’s your favourite film?

    (Allow the students to think about that for a couple of moments, and then take some answers - hopefully there will be a lot of variations. Remember to respect everyone’s choice - films are very personal!)
  2. I’d like to share with you some of my favourites, and why I like them.

    (Share a few films and your reasons for liking them. Mine would include: 21 Grams, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ghostbusters, WALL-E, Before Sunrise, Lost in Translation, It’s a Wonderful Life, Some Like It Hot and Singin’ in the Rain.)
  3. But the film I want to talk about today is a children’s film from the early nineties, which you may have seen when you were a lot smaller: it’s called Babe and it’s based on a Dick King-Smith book called The Sheep-Pig.

    Babe is a piglet that is fostered in the farmyard by a farm sheepdog. We aren’t told why Babe’s not with his family, other than that the farmer is going to fatten him up for Christmas lunch. Babe the piglet begins to watch his foster sheepdog brothers and sisters being taught how to herd sheep, and decides to have a go. But rather than herding by shouting at the sheep and calling them stupid, he politely asks them if they’d mind just going over here, or doing that . . . The sheep are charmed and obey. And that’s all the plot I’m going to tell you - you will have to watch the film to get the rest!
  4. The film made history because it used computer-generated imagery (CGI) and animatronics in a new way, which hadn’t been seen before. It’s old hat now, but the film generated enormous interest and box office success because of the new techniques, and also because of the charm of the story.
  5. But why am I telling you this today? Because the first line of the film is this: ‘This is the tale of an unprejudiced heart.’

    I’ll repeat that: ‘This is the tale of an unprejudiced heart.’

    Have you ever met anyone about whom you could say that?
  6. That fact about Babe, that he has an unprejudiced heart, is critical to his eventual success: because he has no prejudice towards the sheep, he manages to get them over to his side. And then they forget their prejudice towards sheepdogs, who the sheep had regarded as rude bullies.

    You can see where I’m going. I know that I have some prejudice within my heart, and that’s not something I’m proud of. But most of us do, albeit usually without being conscious of it. That prejudice affects the way we treat other people, and often we’re completely unaware of what’s happening.
  7. What would this school, and your homes and neighbourhoods, be like if we all decided not to act according to our prejudices? If we were willing to question habits of behaviour that we’ve always had and acted upon?

    I don’t know the answer, other than that I’m sure it would be better for all of us.

    It’s a new term, a new year. Let’s all act in ways that take us towards being people of unprejudiced hearts.

Time for reflection

In a moment of quiet, think about the people you find difficult, the people you maybe don’t like.

(Pause)

Have you ever stopped to question why you hold those attitudes?

(Pause)

Is it because you hold some prejudice within your heart?

Prayer
Lord God,
make me a person with an unprejudiced heart,
no matter how hard that is for me,
no matter how long it takes.
May I be a person with an unprejudiced heart. 
Amen.

Publication date: January 2012   (Vol.14 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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