9, 10, 11, 12

The learners will read several folktales related to forgiveness, investigate how compassion is interrelated with forgiveness, and describe challenges to real forgiveness.

Lesson Rating 
Three Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • use the geographic themes of location, place and human-environment relations to describe the setting and culture represented in the folktale.
  • identify the type of folktales represented by the stories.
  • identify cultural aspects of various cultures as revealed in the stories.
  • use clues revealed in the stories to determine attributes of the main character.
  • evaluate the appropriateness of the folktale’s title.
  • assess whether stories have universal appeal.
  • give examples of compassion in the folktale.
  • identify real-life situations that are modeled in the stories.
  • describe challenges a person who forgives must be willing to face.
  • give examples of songs or poems that speak to the idea of forgiveness and express their ideas.
  • agree or disagree with points of view about forgiveness through an essay.
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Learners will share the quote they wrote about for their essay with their families and ask family members whether they agree with their point of view. They will also discuss the importance of families in society and analyze why it is so important for family members to be open to forgiveness for past actions.

  • "Both Friend and Foe the Saints Adore." Sri Ramakrishna Math. Tales and parables of Sri Ramakrishna. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, ©1947. pp. 201-202. Used with the permission of Sri Ramakrishna Math.


  • "Forgiveness Quotes," Think Exist .Com Home Page
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "Om Mani Padme Hum," from The Government of Tibet in Exile
  • "The Little Boy Who Talked with Birds." Montejo, Victor. The Bird Who Cleans the World and Other Mayan Fables. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, ©1992. Used with the permission of Curbstone Press. "The Little Boy Who Talked with Birds" by Victor Montego, from The Bird Who Cleans the World (Curbstone Press, 1992). Reprinted with permission of Curbstone Press. Distributed by Consortium."


  • Manindra and Manjusha Mishra. "Sri Ramakrishna and His Teachings," from Brahman Samaj of North America Home Page.
  • "Om Mani Padme Hum: The Meaning of the Mantra in Tibetan Buddhism," Dharma Haven Home Page, 2 ,
  • "The Young Man Who Refused to Kill." Hyde-Chambers, Fredrick and Aubrey. Tibetan Folk Tales. Boulder & London: Shambhala, ©1981 pp. 76-82. Used with the permission of Shambhala Publications, Inc. "From TIBETAN FOLK TALES by Frederick and Audrey Hyde-Chambers, ©1981. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston,"


  • Conley, Craig. "Birdwatching Among the Ruins: Mexico’s Mythical Macaws," Words Worth: Celebrating Talking Birds in the News, history, Mythology, Literature & More Home Page. (1999)


  1. Anticipatory Set:Put the quotation, "To err is human; to forgive divine." (from "An Essay on Criticism," by Alexander Pope) on the chalkboard. Ask the learners to discuss what there is about forgiveness that makes it divine instead of something we deal with regularly.

  2. Explain that it is important to understand people and their environment when studying folktales. One of these stories, "Both Friend and Foe the Saints Adore," is from India. On a map, locate India’s absolute location (longitude and latitude) and relative location (general descriptors of where the place is located).

  3. In a brainstorming session, have the learners describe India as a place by listing recognizable physical characteristics (landforms, water bodies, climate, soil, natural vegetation, animal life) and human characteristics (inhabitants, settlement patterns, languages, religions, how they make a living).

  4. The story, "Both Friend and Foe the Saints Adore," is a folktale accredited to Sri Ramakrishna, a Hindu holy man who lived near Calcutta in the nineteenth century. A man who could neither read nor write, he used stories to explain his teachings to others. Read the story together. Identify what type of folktale this is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable).

  5. What clues are there in the story as to the character of the monk? What does he mean when he tells the other monk, "Brother, he who beat me is now giving me milk"?

  6. Using the Internet, access and read the article, "Sri Ramakrishna and His Teachings." (See Bibliographical References.) Of Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings listed in the article, which one does this story emphasize? (Option: Use any article related to the beliefs of Buddhism.)

  7. What would Sri Ramakrishna say is the "lesson" of this folktale?

  8. The title, "Both Friend and Foe the Saints Adore," gives a strong clue to the holy man’s thoughts. Why was this name chosen for the story? Is it a good title?

  9. Although the folktale very heavily depends on Indian culture, does the story have universal appeal? Would it be understood by someone who knew nothing of the culture or religion of the people?

  10. The folktale, "The Young Man Who Refused to Kill," is a Buddhist tale set in Tibet. Buddhism teaches not to harm others, including animals. Thus, the act of killing animals for food causes the problem within this tale. Using the Internet, research additional information about the religion and the chant, "Om Mani Padme Hum." (See Bibliographical References.)

  11. Read the story together. Identify what type of folktale this is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable). Identify the lesson of the story.

  12. The chant, "Om Mani Padme Hum" (pronounced: Om Mani Peme Hoong), calls upon Chenrezig, who is compassionate, for blessings. How is compassion evident in Tashi’s forgiveness of his father at the end of the story?

  13. Because Tashi said, "My father and mother will never want for food again," do the learners believe that Tashi felt this was a primary reason for his father’s malevolent behavior toward him?" Is this why Tashi forgave his father so readily?

  14. Although the folktale very heavily depends on Tibetan culture, does the story have universal appeal? Would it be understood by someone who knew nothing of the culture or religion of the people?

  15. Explain that the Mayan folktale, "The Little Boy Who Talked with Birds," is also a story of forgiveness. The Mayans lived in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador, and northern Belize. The Mayan word "mut" means both "bird" and "prophesy". Since the Mayans believed that birds could speak and prophesy, it is not surprising in the story that the father becomes upset when he believes his son can interpret the sounds of the birds but will not share the information.

  16. Read the story together. Identify what type of folktale this is (fairy tale, myth, legend/epic, tall tale, fable, religious story/parable). Identify the lesson of the story.

  17. The stern father worried that his son was losing respect for him and that the boy would humiliate him. Because of his fears, the father began to treat the boy more unjustly and threw his son out of the family home. Why was he so fearful? Are there any evidences in the story of the possibility of this actually occurring? Is this something that happens in real life?

  18. When the boy later said, "Don't worry, father. I'm not angry. From today on, you and mother will live near me so our family can be reborn in peace and happiness," was this a reasonable statement from one who had been treated unjustly? In the story the simple act of forgiveness allows everyone to live "happily ever after." Does this happen in real life? Why is it important for family members to forgive each other? What challenges must a person who forgives be willing to face?

  19. Forgiveness is an action that is an ongoing part of life. Ask the learners to select songs or poems that represent their feelings about forgiveness. Share them and discuss the ideas embodied in the poems and songs.

  20. Ask the learners to select from the three statements about forgiveness shown below and write a short essay agreeing or disagreeing with the statement. They should explain why they agree or disagree with the statement, use at least one example from the folktales to support their point of view and give a real life example of when the statement might apply. See Scoring Rubric for Forgiveness Essay (Attachment One).

    • "Those who cannot forgive break the bridge over which they themselves must pass." Confucius
    • "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Gandhi
    • "If you can’t forgive, don’t ask to be forgiven." Anonymous

The Forgiveness Essay may be used as an assessment of learning for this lesson. Rubrics are included in Attachment One.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Discuss the role of family life in shaping a democratic society.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.

Academic Standards

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