Courage to Change the World

6, 7, 8

Learners discover examples of courage by learning about a hero, Nelson Mandela, whose actions changed the course of history.

Lesson Rating 
One 20-minute class period

The Learner will:

  • site examples of courage in the life of Nelson Mandela.
  • student copies of a biography of Nelson Mandela printed from the Internet(optional) See Bibliographical References.
  • Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman by Floyd Cooper or similar short biography of Mandela (optional)

Biographies of Nelson Mandela can be found at:



Cooper. Floyd. Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman. Putnam Juvenile; Reprint edition (January 24, 2000). ISBN-13: 978-0698118164


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Remind the learners that in the first lesson you asked them toname a hero of their choice. Today you are going to share with them a storyof a hero from South Africa.Ask if any of them can guess the name of that hero.

  2. Read a brief biography of Nelson Mandela to the learners or paraphrase his life accomplishments (see Materials and Bibliographical References).

  3. If the ability to display the Internet is available, also show the three-minute video of Mandela found at,32068,2028936254001_2131380,00.htmlor the six-minute video at

  4. Teacher Note: There is a brief advertisement at the beginning of this video.To avoid showing it to the students, load the video before class begins and pause it just at the endof the advertisement for later viewing by the class.

  5. Ask the learners what incidents in Mandela's life are examples of courage.

  6. Display this quote by Nelson Mandela:

  7. "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires."

  8. Ask the learners "What words or phrases in this quoteby Nelson Mandela relate to courage? What other character traits,in addition to courage,might Mandela be referring toin the quote?"

Cross Curriculum 

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills. For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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