Social Contract for Our School

6, 7, 8

A positive school or community climate is made up of people making choices about how to act and treat one another. It is everyone's responsibility to follow the established social contract. To make a deliberate social contract, participants identify how they want to act together and survey the whole school population to identify what is going well and what needs improvement.

PrintOne 50-Minute Session, plus time for a survey

The learner will:

  • define "social contract" and write group agreements to promote a positive school climate.
  • character traits: characteristics or qualities that describe behavior
  • community: a group of people living in the same area and under the same government
  • culture: the customary practices and beliefs of a social group
  • school climate: the values, culture, practices, and structures within a school that cause it to function in particular ways
  • social contract: an understanding among members of a group or community that defines rights and responsibilities and an expectation for how to treat one another
  • bias: personal judgment; a way we think about things that is formed by our experience


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Introduce the term "social contract" and explain that a social contract is an understanding (which may be unspoken) among members of a group or community that defines rights and responsibilities and an expectation for how to treat one another. Demonstrate that there is a social contract present, even if they haven't talked about it, by asking how they treat each other in this shared space.

  2. Discuss the following questions:

    • Do we have the same social contract in all the communities in which we are members? At home? In the local community? In our faith-based communities?
    • Are there some behaviors that we accept as part of the social contract that really are not okay?
    • Do you think we can change an existing social contract to improve the community, or is it out of our control?
    • How do our biases make us blind to social contract?
  3. Use this tool to discuss and establish group agreements about how they want to be together in a safe environment. These may used to deliberately form their social contract. 

  4. If they would like these agreements to be used in the whole school or larger community, they can use a survey tool to share their agreements and get feedback on terms for a social contract.

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. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the "social contract" and the changing roles of civil society and government in meeting this "contract."
  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 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.