How Do You See It?
It takes time to see what a person is really like
by Rebecca Parkinson
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to think about what people are like on the inside rather than simply going by their outward appearance.
Preparation and materials
- Gather some illusions and have the means available to display them on a large screen during the assembly. Some examples are suggested below and suggestions on how to use them are provided in the ‘Assembly’, Step 2:
- ‘Count the black dots’, available at: http://tinyurl.com/yc7hqnxa
- ‘Old woman or young girl?’, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ydbw4snh
- ‘Is it moving?’, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yewpr2o
- ‘Are they moving?’, available at: https://tinyurl.com/nh3q
- ‘Are the dots pink?’, available at: https://tinyurl.com/7pcyr5n
- More illusions are available at: https://tinyurl.com/y6a4wb
Prior to this assembly, it is important to be familiar with the illusions so that you can advise the students what to look for, otherwise the effect may be lessened.
Explain that you are going to display several images on the large screen. You are going to ask the students some questions and ask them to do certain things.
– Show the first link, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yc7hqnxa and ask, ‘Can you count the black dots?’
The answer is that there are no black dots.
– Show the second link, available at: https://tinyurl.com/n6a6xjk and ask, ‘Can you see an old woman or a young girl?’
If the students look for long enough, they should see both. Ask someone who can see both to demonstrate where they are on the screen.
– Show the third link, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yewpr2o and ask, ‘Is it moving?’
The answer is that it is not moving.
– Show the fourth link, available at: https://tinyurl.com/nh3q and ask, ‘Are they moving?’
The answer is that they, too, are not moving!
– Show the fifth link, available at: https://tinyurl.com/7pcyr5n and ask, ‘Are the dots pink?’
If you look at the pink dots moving, they appear pink. If, however, you stare at the cross in the middle, the moving dot appears to turn green. If you stare at the cross in the middle for long enough, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a single green dot rotating.
These illusions are just for fun and usually occur because our eyes or brains are misled by the arrangement of colours, images, light and so on. They show us something important, however: what we think we see is not always what we really see. Sometimes, we are deceived!
Explain that we often accept what we see as truth. Often, this is correct, but sometimes, we get it wrong. This can be especially true when it comes to our judgement of people.
Ask the students to think of a time when they have tried to hide how they really felt so that other people would not know their true feelings. It might have been when they were embarrassed, so they laughed so that no one would know. Maybe they wanted to cry, but laughed or hit someone instead. Maybe they are people who talk all the time to cover up the fact that they are really shy.
People are often good at putting on a show – looking one way on the outside, but feeling very different on the inside. They are good at creating an illusion for other people.
Explain to the students that we need to learn to take time when forming judgements about others. It is important to get to know people properly, not assume that we know them because of what they look like.
The Bible tells us about when the prophet Samuel went to choose the next king of Israel from a family that had eight sons. He saw the eldest first. The first son was tall, handsome and looked like a future king, but God told Samuel that this was not the right son. The following words, recorded in the Bible, are very famous: ‘People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16.7). Eventually, God told Samuel to choose the youngest son, who was out in the field watching his father’s sheep. This boy was David, who eventually became the greatest king of Israel.
Emphasize the importance of thinking about what people are like on the inside rather than simply going by their outward appearance.
Time for reflection
Ask the students to think about the people seated around them. How many of them do they know well? Do they know what they like to eat? Do they know if they have brothers or sisters? Do they know where they live? When we think about it, we know very little about most people! That means we all need to take time to find out what people are like on the inside.
Thank you that you have made us all so different.
Thank you for the variety of gifts, abilities and personalities in this room.
Please help us to be people who always look for the best in each other.