Understanding Justice, Kindness and Tolerance

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson examines one way a lack of self-awareness can play a role in perpetuating racism and prejudice. Learners identify ways they can advocate for justice and kindness.

PrintOne 50 minute session

The learners will:

  • identify and explain how self-betrayal and self-deception lead one to treat others with disrespect.
  • analyze a historical example of self-betrayal leading to racism.
  • discuss personal responsibility to advocate for tolerance, justice, and kindness in their school, community, and world.
  • student copies (or display) of the handout Self-Deception
  • Learner copies of the handout Racism and Self-Deception
  • student copies (or display) of the handout Bus Driver’s Self-Justifying Views
  • (Optional) Learner copies of the handout Reflecting on Racism and the Box
Home Connection 

Assign as homework the handout Reflecting on Racism and the Box. The learner can discuss his/her paragraph and ideas with family members as a way to internalize the concept of tolerance, justice, and kindness as antidotes to racism and prejudice.


Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. The Arbinger Institute (Editor). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2000. ISBN: 1576750949


  1. Note: Make prior arrangements with two youth volunteers to act out an improvisation where one person unknowingly drops a pencil and the other person considers picking up the pencil (feeling it is the right thing to do) but then does nothing.

    Anticipatory Set:

    Have the two volunteers perform the pencil-dropping scene before the rest of the group. Following the improvisation, ask the group what they saw happen and what they think was going on in the two participants' minds. It may be necessary to repeat the scene to spark more observations.

  2. Present the information on the handout Self-Deception. This lays out the logical progression of a person going against their instinct to help others and ending up in a "box" separated from humanity.

  3. Ask the question, "How could the person who did not pick up the pencil justify doing nothing?"

    Write a sample of their explanations on the display board (not my job, I'm too cool, I don't know him) Ask the further question, "With these thoughts in mind, how do you think this person views himself and how does he view the person he did not help?" Write a few of the responses on the display board (cool/not cool, etc.).

  4. Ask the young people to think briefly about the following questions and then discuss their thoughts with a partner for a couple minutes: "If this scenario happened repeatedly in various forms every day, how would the person who is not helped begin to feel about themself? How would the person who chooses not to help others begin to feel about themself? And how would that affect the whole community?" Ask a few partners to share their thoughts with the whole group.

  5. Pose the question, "How might the feelings between the two have been different if the second person had picked up the pencil?"

  6. Distribute the handout Racism and Self-Deception and read through the instructions with the class. Allow the learners to work independently on this assignment prior to putting them into groups of two or three to share and discuss their responses.

  7. Create a T-chart of the handout Bus Driver’s Self-Justifying Views for the class to complete together. Have volunteers use words and phrases from their Racism and Self-Deception worksheet under the two columns. Discuss the words and phrases as a class. Ask participants to analyze how the intolerance shown in the example contributed to society’s disintegration.

  8. Lead a group discussion of ways they can promote justice and kindness as they participate in a service project.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide examples from history of how the relationship between government and the civil society sector has changed.
      2. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
  2. 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. Benchmark HS.3 Give examples of human interdependence and explain why group formation is one strategy for survival.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced national or world history.
      3. Benchmark HS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
      4. Benchmark HS.7 Identify contemporary factors in society that can shape or affect how society views philanthropic giving.
  3. 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.2 Compare and contrast enlightened self-interest, egoism, and altruism as they relate to philanthropy and principles of democracy.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.