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What Is A Value? - Two page sample lesson plan

Our decisions often reflect our values. While students may not be familiar with the term "values," they nevertheless operate on some value system. The main idea behind this section is to allow students to realize that they do have values and to identify what some of these values are:

1. Begin the class by stating: "There are some things in life that are very important. I believe that education is very important. What are some things that you believe are very important?" List all the ideas that the students suggest.

They may suggest such things as "having a nice house" to "owning a new car." These may be tied in later with a work, education, or wealth value. Students often tend to be oriented to concrete concepts, and they may not suggest more abstract ideas such as "beauty" as something of real value.

If you feel that they do not offer many choices, you could list additional values from the list below:


2. After students have verbalized as many "important things" as they can think of, explain that many of these "things" can be called "values." Hand out and read the beginning sentences of "What Is a Value?"

3. From the list of values on the chalkboard and on their handout, ask the students to consider which four are the most important to them. Let them explain which four they have chosen and why.

4. In the United States, two values are seen as very important. Which are they?
(Liberty and Justice). What do these two words mean? For the purposes of Peacemaker curriculum, "Liberty" says that a person is free to do whatever he decides, within the bounds which a unit of society (home, school, city, county, state, nation) has established. These boundaries are called "Justice", which sets limits for personal liberty on the basis of truth, fairness, right, and benefit to all concerned.

5. Draw a large rectangle on the chalkboard. Ask the students to imagine this is football field. "Liberty" allows a person to run around anywhere he or she wants on that field. "Justice" is the two sidelines and the two endlines. These four boundary lines could be called:
  1. Illegal (any act against the law or violating the rules),
  2. Verbal abuse (insults, cursing, slander).
  3. Hurting self (recklessness, drug abuse, attempted suicide), and
  4. Hurting others (assault, extortion, murder).
Persons who step on these lines are "out-of-bounds." They make themselves subject to a penalty designed to fit the seriousness of the infraction.

- Sample page 2 -


Very often our behavior, what we say and do, is influenced by our "values." What is a value? We may say: the ideas that we believe are important, the things that we rate highly are our values.

Some values are:

helping others
having fun
being honest
good health
love of family

Add some more values of your own here:
_________________ _________________
_________________ _________________

Which of these values are more important to you? (List four.)
1. _______________ 3. _______________
2. _______________ 4. _______________

Values play an important part in our lives. They help us decide what we expect of ourselves and of others. Our values help us to make decisions.

Note: This teaching plan and activity is taken from Unit One of the Grades 4-8 Volume of The Peacemaker Curriculum. This first unit deals with values and how "values" affect actions.

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