Carefully Taught

6, 7, 8

Students analyze the words to a song about prejudice. They rewrite the lyrics with a more positive message.

PrintOne 20-minute class period

The learner will:

  • listen to and discuss the song "Carefully Taught" and evaluate how his/her own prejudices reflect the prejudices of others (i.e. environment, family, society).
  • rewrite lyrics forthe song witha respectful message.
  • lyrics to "Carefully Taught" (See Bibliographical References.)
  • blank paper for each learner

Rodgers, Richard. South Pacific. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein III. Columbia Broadway Masterworks. Original Broadway Cast rerecording. 1998


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Give the learners the written lyrics to "Carefully Taught." (If possible, play the song as the learners read the words.)Tell the learners that they are going to analyze the words ofthe song from the musical play South Pacific that was intended to be sarcastic [ironic wit intended to cut down or point out inconsistency].

    Carefully Taught

    lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein III

    You've got to be taught to hate and fear; you've got to be taught from year to year; it's got to be drummed in your dear little ear; you've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made, and people whose skin is a different shade; you've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught before it's too late; before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate; you've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be carefully taught!

  2. As a class, discuss the meaning of the song to determine what is says about how people develop prejudice. Discuss and list from where prejudices might originate. Make sure that family, friends, society, environment, and the media are included in the list.

  3. Tell the learners that although our first instinct is to judge, we can keep an open mind and apply antidotes [remedy to counteract] to prejudice.

  4. As a class, brainstorm words to rewrite the lyrics of "Carefully Taught" to reflect acceptance and tolerance. These words will reflect antidotes to prejudice, bias, and hate. (Example: "You've got to be taught to love and share, you've got to be taught to truly careā€¦")

  5. Discuss what they have learned about themselves and prejudice in this lesson.

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.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.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.