Investigating Respect

6, 7, 8

This lesson challenges learners to recognize prejudice and examine how they perceive others. Learners discover how prejudices are learned, and they reflect on recognizing their biases.

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • define prejudice and stereotyping and give examples.
  • identify attributes of school and home cultures.
  • Extension: reflect in writing on "respect," prompted by a quote from President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
  • Five pictures of people (photos, magazines, or internet images). Choose a variety of pictures, each representing a different ethnic, socio-economic, racial, and/or age group. (See Teacher Preparation in this lesson and sample pictures in Handout One.)
Teacher Preparation 

Before the lesson, select images of people to show the students. Try to select people from different cultural, religious, ethnic, racial, gender, socio-economic, and age groups. These images may come from personal photos, magazines, or the Internet. The purpose of the exercise is to get students to make snap judgments about the people in the photos. This will create awareness that we all make judgments. The first judgment we make is on appearance as we try to fit people into preexisting categories in our minds. This is human nature, but it is important to be aware of this tendency so we can open our minds to learning more about people as we get more information. Locking into our first impressions is the start of prejudice. The photos you select may have one or more person per photo.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Have learners number a piece of paper from one to five. Display one at a time the five pictures selected for the lesson. (See Materials and Teacher Preparation.) Ask learners to write the first thought that comes to their minds as each picture is displayed. Leave the picture on display for no more than twenty seconds.

  2. Display the following definitions: prejudice: an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed before hand or without knowledge, thought, or reason; to pre-judge stereotype: an oversimplified opinion formed by assuming that someone has given attributes because he/she is a member of a certain group or class

  3. Have the learners move into discussion groups of four or five students. Direct the learners to discuss the given definitions and discuss with one another whether the first thoughts they wrote down about each of the five people in the pictures involved stereotyping or prejudice. Have the learners ask themselves the question. " Did I pre-judge this person on appearance alone?"

  4. Return to the whole group. Have volunteers share what they discovered about their own prejudices. Discuss, being sure to emphasize that no one is born with prejudice but that we all have "learned" prejudice.

  5. Tell the students that one of the ways to avoid prejudice is to recognize attributes of one's own culture. If we identify the traits ofourselves that we learn and value, we realize we have a point of view, or unique culture. This may be formed by home, faith, preferences, things we like to spend time on, what we appreciate in others, and what we don't like.

  6. Have the students name some attributes of the school culture that may be different than other cultures (what we value, emphasize, respect, spend time on). Encourage them to think about the culture in their homes and extended families.

  7. Ask, "How does recognizing your own culture help you show respect for others' cultures?" (Self-respect leads to respect of others.)

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.