What Is Your Gripe?

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will cite historical examples of social injustice and then identify perceived social injustices today. They will identify and share incidents in their lives when they confronted such experiences.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • identify historic examples of injustice as well as contemporary problems in schools, communities and states.
  • define social justice.
  • share personal accounts of speaking out against an injustice.
  • identify the characteristics of "social" problems as opposed to "individual" problems.
  • White board or overhead projector
  • Suggested Definitions of Social Justice (see Handout One)
  • Major Themes From Catholic Social Teaching (see Handout Two) (for Parochial Schools)
  • Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Office For Social Justice http://www.osjspm.org/
  • PAE Virtual Glossary. <http://www.mhhe.com/biosci/pae/glossarys.html>
  • The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Home Page (go to Links & Resources, Justice)
  • United States Catholic Conference. A Century of Catholic Social Teaching. Washington, DC: USCC Office for Publication and Promotional Services, 1990. ISBN: 1-55586-379-5


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    "What was their gripe?" Ask the learners to think historically and identify a problem, issue or injustice that persons or groups endured that was later changed.

  2. Now ask, "What is your gripe?" Have learners identify at least one problem, issue or injustice they perceive in their school, community or state and write it down in a notebook.

  3. Writing the examples on the board or overhead, survey the class for one example from each learner.

  4. Ask learners to recall a time when they spoke out or acted against a perceived injustice. In their notebooks, have them draw a symbol or logo, or write a brief description of the anecdote. Share the responses.

  5. During sharing, ask the following questions:

    • Did you feel uncomfortable speaking or acting out?
    • Was the injustice directed towards you, others or both?
    • Did your action effect any change?
  6. During sharing, ask the following questions:

    • Identify characteristics of "social" problems, as opposed to "individual" problems. What will be the consequences to society of not solving this problem?
    • Choose one of the definitions of social justice described in Suggested Definitions of Social Justice (Handout One). Have the learners copy the definition in their notebooks.
    • Ask, "Considering the definition, which problems on the board do not constitute violations of social justice?" Erase those on the board deemed to not apply.

The notebook responses, both problems and personal stories, will serve as an assessment of learning for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.