Lesson 1: Studying "Character"
Students will learn the meaning of certain core traits that help to define "good character," as well as an understanding about Confucius and the wisdom of proverbs.
- Understanding that certain core character traits form the basis of a person's "good character"
- Understanding that Confucius was a Chinese thinker who emphasized the practice of values as a way to achieve "goodness"
- Understanding the function of proverbs
Aligns with language arts national standards: NCTE/IRA Standards 1, 2, 3, 6, 9
1. Invite students to share traits they think are important to a person's "good character," such as honesty, respect, fairness, kindness, responsibility. Encourage students to identify these traits through real-life examples.
2. Explain that in ancient China, Confucius (551—479 BCE) was a famous thinker who focused on the importance of values as a way for people to live good lives and to maintain a prosperous society. Many sayings are credited to Confucius. Share with students some of Confucius's wisdom, such as: "Virtue is never left to stand alone" and "What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do unto others." Invite students to discuss what they think these sayings mean.
3. Distribute Printable 1: Character Study (PDF). Review the character traits and guide students to share examples of specific actions that illustrate each trait. Then, in pairs or small groups, encourage students to read each example in the printable and identify which character trait is being illustrated. Discuss answers as a group (Answers: 1. diligence; 2. excellence; 3. courage; 4. kindness; 5. respect.)
4. Next, share with students the definition of "proverb." (Proverb: A saying that illustrates a basic truth, based on human experience or common sense.) Explain that Confucius often used proverbs to illustrate wise truths.
5. Invite students to share proverbs they may know. Where did they hear them? What are their meanings? Distribute Printable 2: Proverbs Rule! (PDF). Discuss the introductory example and its meaning. Then invite partners to complete the printable, identifying the meanings of the proverb examples. Discuss student answers as a class. (Possible answers: 1. In order to succeed, one must take chances. 2. A real friend is one who can be counted on in difficult times. 3. Those who get things done sooner reap rewards. 4. Rushing through something is a way to make mistakes. 5. The strength of many can overcome the limitations of one.)