Honesty and the Common Good

6, 7, 8

Students will reflect in writing on the role of common good and honesty when rules are not clearly stated.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • brainstorm options for how to deal with situations where the rules aren't clear.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the students if there are rules for everything. Discuss.

  2. Tell the students that a seventh-grader found a dollar in the lunchroom. He found it on the ground under a lunch table. Ask them "What possible options does this student have?"

  3. List the options they propose and discuss the pros and cons of each. Ask the students to star the options that are the ethical choices. Remind them of the meaning of ethical decision-making: (Using a set of morals/values when problem-solving).

  4. Say to the students, "Many of your peers might say that they don’t care much for rules. They would reason that rules are too restrictive. Rules tend to limit one's fun and freedom too much. But you know that without rules everyone could find themselves in a lot of unpleasant situations. In a civil society, rules protect everyone. They protect the smart and the not so smart, the speedy and the not so speedy, the strong and the not so strong. Rules help our world work effectively and efficiently. But all situations are not defined by clear rules."

  5. Ask the students to propose situations where the rules are not clear and they must use ethical decision-making. They may ask hypothetical questions that the group discusses. For example, What should I do if one friend asks me to go to a movie Friday night, and I say yes. Then another friend asks me to go to a basketball game the same night, and I want to do that more than I want to go to the movie.

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 generationon.org.

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.