Practice Peace (Grade 8)

6, 7, 8

Students will learn about the life of Gandhi and will promote peace in their community. They will compare and contrast the philosophies and work of Dr. King and Gandhi. They will determine service they can provide to promote peace and nonviolence.

PrintOne 45 minute class period

The learner will:

  • discuss discrimination and nonviolent resistance and its relationship to the Indian caste system.
  • compare the lives and legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi.
  • experience service by making peace bracelets to demonstrate the importance
  • Optional: “Gandhi” DVD
Teacher Preparation 

The film "Gandhi" is 191 minutes in length. If class time doesn't allow for students to view the entire documentary, selected parts may be shown or show the trailer and provide print information about Gandhi for the students to read. 

See Bibliographical References.

The DVD is also widely available for rent at most DVD rental businesses and at many public libraries.

service: to provide a community or organization with something that it needs

donate: to give or present something, especially to a charitable organization or other good cause

discrimination: to be treated unfairly by others

protest: to express strong disapproval of or disagreement with something, or to refuse to obey or accept something, often by making a formal statement or taking action in public

nonviolent resistance: a type of peaceful protest that is designed to alert others of unfair or unequal acts committed.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write this quote on a display board: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

    Ask the students what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. After a brief discussion, ask the students about what they have learned about Dr King throughout their school years.  Tell the students that the quotation is from Mohandas Gandhi, whose life and teaching were very influential in the development of Dr. King's understanding of service and nonviolence.

  2. Introduce the theme of the day, Practice Peace – this means understanding nonviolence and promoting peace and tolerance.

  3. Provide context wtih a brief summary of the Indian caste system and draw parallels to Jim Crow and other forms of racial discrimination that existed in the United States during Dr. King's life.  Although it has been outlawed from the Indian Constitution since the mid-twentieth century, the caste system existed for many centuries and has some values still practiced today. The caste system has 5 “varnas” or colors that gave a hierarchal structure to various social or ethnic clusters. The five varnas are known as the Brahmins (priests or teachers), Kshatriyas (kings or warriors), Vaishyas (merchants or artisans), Shudras (laborers or peasants), and Pariah/Harijan (also known as the “untouchables”). The Brahmins were considered to be the highest ranking group and the Harijan were the lowest ranking.Thousands of sub-castes also existed in India known as “jati,” which means birth, life, and rank. Describe the way that groups were treated within the Indian caste system: Typically, groups that were of a lower rank than others were discriminated against. Discrimination means being treated unfairly by others. Due to the treatment the untouchables and other groups received, Gandhi began practicing nonviolent resistance to demonstrate against the system and against the British empire that ruled over India and encouraged divisions among Indians. 

  4. Show the movie trialer for Gandhi” and/or have the students conduct research about Gandhi to answer the following questions.Facilitate a discussion about the importance of helping others.

    • What conflicts were occurring in India that sparked Gandhi’s attention?
    • How did Gandhi protest the violence that Indians experienced?
    • Why do you think Gandhi felt it important to meet violence with peace?
    • How does this movie and Gandhi’s leadership relate to service?
    • How are Dr. King and Gandhi similar with their lives and the legacies that they have left behind?
  5. Tell the students:Nonviolent resistance is a type of peaceful protest that is designed to alert others of unfair or unequal acts committed. One example of nonviolent resistance is sit-ins. Ask students to list other types of nonviolent resistance--giving reference to today's movements by young people including  Black Lives Matter and DACA-related protests.   Discuss ways that you could resolve conflicts peacefully.

  6. Review Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy of service and compare it to the life and legacy of Gandhi.  Ask:

    • Think about the legacies of Dr. King and Mohandas Gandhi. How did they both encourage others to serve?
    • What message would both of them convey to youth today to encourage them to practice service?
    • What will you do to continue their messages of service?
  7. Review the concept of philanthropy - giving time, talent and treasure for the common good - and ask students to brainstorm examples from their own lives or the lives of others. Remind students that in learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi,they learned about how one person can make a difference through service. Just as Dr. King and Gandhi demonstrated their dedication to help others through social activism, students will demonstrate service by promoting unity and tolerance in their community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. 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.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Map the locations of the emerging democracies and identify the relationship of civil society and government.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.1 Provide a needed service.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.