7.3  Lesson Two – Rules that some famous people live by

Time required: 60 minutes
Materials required: none

Teacher instructions:

In this lesson, the students are assigned to research and write about the life of a famous or well-known person (living or deceased) who demonstrates or has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to the service of humanity as an expression of his/her values, moral principles, and “rules for living”.

It is left to the discretion of the teacher as to whether this writing exercise is done during class or as a homework assignment. The teacher may wish to model the exercise for the students by researching and presenting to the students the life of one courageous person and the values that guided and inspired him/her. The teacher can write this short paper using the guidelines for the students outlined later in this lesson.

As an aid to the teacher, a short biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is included in the Appendices section of this curriculum unit. See Appendix 3.

This biography contains a reflection on the values and ideals that guided Dr. King amidst the numerous obstacles that he faced. The teacher may want to share this biography with the students as a model for their written assignments.

Biographies (print and DVD) of famous people can be found on the Internet and in public and school libraries.

The length of this short paper is left to the discretion of the teacher. Some of these papers can be presented orally in class in a subsequent lesson. As an alternative to a written format, the teacher may invite some students to present their research in other forms such as poetry, song or art.

The students choose the person they want to research and have their choice approved by the teacher. The teacher has the option of providing a list of famous, historical people from which the students can choose. As an aid to the teacher, a list of some such personalities is available below.

Jose Antonio Abreu
Babasaheb Ambedkar
George Washington Carver
Leonard Cheshire
Cesar Chavez
Tommy Douglas
Frederick Douglass
W.E.B. Dubois
Abdul Sattar Edhi
Hugh Evans (Australia)
Diane Fossey
Terry Fox
Anne Frank
Mahatma Gandhi
Jane Goodall
John Howard Griffin
Mussie Hailu
Rick Hansen
Dorothy Height
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Helen Keller
Craig Kielburger
Martin Luther King Jr.
The Dalai Lama
Wangari Maathai
Nelson Mandela
Rigoberta Menchu
Greg Mortenson
Florence Nightengale
Rosa Parks
Jackie Robinson
Eleanor Roosevelt
Oscar Schindler
Albert Schweitzer
Helen Suzman
Mother Teresa
Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman
Desmond Tutu
Jean Vanier
Booker T. Washington
Raoul Wallenberg
Mohammad Yunus

Information about each of these individuals can be found on the Internet.

In their research and writing, the students will be responsible for outlining or highlighting the following:

  • A brief biography of the individual
  • The values, principles, and “rules for living” that guides/guided the life of this individual
  • The manner in which this individual puts/put his/her values and principles into action
  • Any obstacles, challenges, or persecution that he/she endures/endured as a result of adhering to such principles and values
  • Benefits received by other human beings, by other species or by the environment as a result of this person’s adherence to her/his values and principles

Teachers in religious schools

Religious history contains an abundance of prophets, saints, teachers, heroes, gurus, sages, and spiritual masters. For this biographical exercise, teachers are encouraged to draw also from the heritage of great spiritual figures in their own spiritual traditions and in other spiritual traditions.

Journal activity – let’s write about it!

For journal questions to stimulate the students’ written reflections after or during class, see Appendix 4.

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