To Thyself Be True

6, 7, 8

This lesson explores how people can be honest with themselves. Students reflect on how they can be honest with themselves and take personal responsibility.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • recognize statements that shift blame are examples of not being honest with oneself.
  • write a plan for taking responsibility for something he or she wants to do but can't get started.


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Ask the students, "Have you ever walked out of a test that you didn't do well on and say, 'That test wasn't fair' or 'The teacher didn't tell us that was going to be on the test? Can anyone explain how these sentences might be examples of dishonesty?" Discuss.

  2. Lead the students to recognize that these may be examples of being dishonest with oneself. Ask the students why anyone would choose to be dishonest with himself/herself (e.g., shifting blame or not taking responsibility). Discuss the consequences of not being honest with oneself.

  3. Ask the students for examples of things people say or familiar situations when people are not honest with themselves and blame others or circumstances (recycling, getting homework done, "I would have practiced clarinet, but my sister needed me."). Discuss why it is difficult to face these situations honestly.

  4. Write the following steps on the board for taking honest responsibility for oneself [following tasks to completion and being dependable for doing what you say you will do]:

    • I am the one in charge of myself, not a victim of outside influences.
    • I must take personal repsonsibility for what I do or want to accomplish.
    • I will make a plan for moving forward.
  5. Teacher: "Think of something you avoid even though you know it is best for you (and others). Then read through these three steps with that in mind. Write a plan for how you are going to take a step toward getting started. Be honest with yourself." Students write their plan in their character education journals.

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.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.