8.2  Lesson One – Introducing the Golden Rule

Time required: 50 minutes
Materials required: chart paper, marker pens, 13 Golden Rule cards (3 inches x 3 inches, prepared in advance by the teacher), Scarboro Missions Golden Rule Poster (large and/or small size)

Teacher instructions:

In the classroom, at least one copy of the large Scarboro Missions Golden Rule Poster should be posted so as to be visible to all students. Alternatively, each student can be provided with the smaller version.

The students are invited to view and reflect upon the poster. The purpose here is to prepare the students for later lessons in the curriculum in which they will explore the symbolic and visual content of the poster in greater detail.

The students are asked to share their spontaneous, first impressions of the poster. If the large poster is used, not all students will be able to read the writings on the poster, given their physical location in the class. The teacher may want to invite the students to approach the poster for a better view. Later in this lesson, the 13 Golden Rule texts will be studied and read aloud.

Once the students’ first impressions of the poster have been shared, the teacher introduces the students to basic information about the Golden Rule. In this regard, the suggested text below may be helpful. The teacher may want to read this statement to the students or offer it as a handout which the students can read. Another option is to make it available to the students prior to the class:

In previous lessons we spent lots of time talking about values and rules for living. We talked about rules among our peers as well as rules at home, at school, in sports and in society. We also looked at some of the values and rules for living that guided courageous people throughout history. And we compared our own values and personal rules to those of these historical figures.

Now, we are going to learn about a “rule for living” that can be found throughout history. It is called “the Golden Rule.” It is sometimes referred to as “the ethic of reciprocity.” The Golden Rule has a very simple message – a very simple rule for living. The Golden Rule is expressed in many different ways. One of the more common of these ways is: “Treat other people in the same way that you would like to be treated.” Another way in which the Golden Rule is expressed is: “Do not treat others in ways that you would find hurtful.”

Some consider the Golden Rule to be the most consistent, most prevalent, and most universal moral teaching in history; it is found in many cultures, ethnic groups, religions, ethical systems, philosophies, and indigenous (Native) traditions.

In this lesson we will be looking at only 13 of these Golden Rules but we could find many, many more if we did some research.

Prior to class, the teacher prepares 13 cards (3 inches by 3 inches). The teacher inscribes each of the 13 cards with a different expression of the Golden Rule, as found on the Golden Rule Poster. The texts for these 13 Golden Rules can be found in seven languages on the Scarboro Missions website, at http://www.scarboromissions.ca/golden-rule/thirteen-sacred-texts-multi-lingual-versions

The cards are distributed throughout the class. Accordingly, each card will be shared by a group composed of two or three students. The students in each group take a moment to silently read their particular Golden Rule statement. Each small group discusses its Golden Rule statement. Within each group, the students may consider the following question:

What goes through your mind as you read and think about this Golden Rule?

In preparation for the public reading of the 13 writings, each student group delegates a reader. The teacher determines the order of the readings. In a consecutive fashion, the 13 delegated students read aloud their Golden Rules. The teacher urges the readers to pronounce their Golden Rules clearly and slowly.

Once the 13 writings have been read, the class is asked to think about the writings that they have just heard, and to be prepared to contribute their thoughts to a class discussion. They may also want to share any new reflections that they may have on the poster. The students’ comments that arise from this brainstorming process can be recorded on chart paper.

To stimulate the students’ thinking, the teacher poses one or more of the following questions:

  • What did you think/feel as you silently read the Golden Rule that was assigned to your group?
  • Can you summarize in one word, phrase or sentence the message of the Golden Rule statement that was assigned to your small group?
  • What did you think/feel as you listened to the other 12 Golden Rules being read aloud?
  • As you listened to these Golden Rules, did you think about how we human beings treat one another or about how we humans should treat one another? Explain.
  • Do you see any similarities among the 13 Golden Rules? Explain. Do you see any differences among the 13? Explain.
  • Do you feel that your values or your personal rules for living are much different from those found in these Golden Rules? Explain.
  • What would the world be like if all the people on this planet lived their lives according to the Golden Rule? Explain.
  • Why do you think people find it so difficult to live their lives according to the Golden Rule?
  • Which of the 13 Golden Rules do you like the best? Explain.
  • Is the idea of the Golden Rule new to you? Have you ever heard of it at home or at school?

Homework assignment # 1

The students are assigned to choose an article from a local or regional newspaper (or from an Internet news source) that involves a conflict between two or more people or two or more groups. After having studied the article, the students are required to write a reflection that addresses the following questions:

  • Where does this story take place?
  • Who are the parties involved?
  • What issue or issues are at play in this situation?
  • At the heart of this conflict, has there been a violation of the Golden Rule? Explain.
  • Would this conflict have occurred if one, both or all parties involved had followed the message of the Golden Rule? Explain.

The students should be prepared to present or discuss the content of their paper in class.

Homework assignment # 2

Students are assigned to write a reflection addressing one or more of the following questions:

  • Think of one occasion when someone treated you in the spirit of the Golden Rule. When was that? Who was involved? What was that like for you? How did you feel? How do you understand the behavior of the other person involved in this incident? What did you learn from this experience?
  • Think of one occasion when you treated someone in the spirit of the Golden Rule. When was that? Who was involved? What was that like for you? How did you feel? How do you understand the other person’s reaction to your behavior in that situation? What did you learn from this experience?
  • Think of one occasion when someone treated you in a manner that violated the Golden Rule. When was that? Who was involved? What was that like for you? How did you feel? How do you understand the behavior of the other person involved in that incident? What did you learn from this experience?
  • Think of one occasion when you treated someone in a manner that violated the Golden Rule. When was that? Who was involved? What was that like for you? How did you feel? How do you understand the other person’s reaction to your behavior in that situation? What did you learn from this experience?

Journal activity: Let’s write about it!

For journal questions to stimulate the students’ written reflections after or during class, see Appendix 6.

Golden Rule Poster