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Lesson Idea: Humility in Leaders


In this lesson, students will examine the virtue of humility through historical figures and determine its significance in present day leaders.
  • virtue
  • humility
  • deliberation
  • arrogant
  • humble
  • pride
  • ambitious
  • notoriety
  • ego
  • chasten
  • magnanimous
  • democracy
  • tyranny
  • politician
  • paragon
1) Ask students to write their definition of humility, and engage in a brief discussion to provide background knowledge.
2) View the following video clips on David Bobb explaining his position on Humility (1 minute) and Elected Officials (30 seconds). Conduct a class discussion reflecting on his remarks, and ask students to share their reactions to it. Students may consider whether humility is a positive or negative virtue.
3) Distribute the accompanying lesson handout (Adobe PDF or Microsoft Doc). View the video on Benjamin Franklin (1 minute) and ask students to take notes on the chart.  As a class discuss how the idea of humility relates to Benjamin Franklin and how it affected his life.
4) Students can rotate around the classroom in stations or work independently on personal devices to view the following videos and complete the chart on the handout. Students should note how the idea of humility relates to each individual.
George Washington (1 minute)
Abraham Lincoln (3 minutes)
Abigail and John Adams (4 ½ minutes)
Frederick Douglass (1 ½ minutes)
5) As a class, view this clip on Media (1 minute). Ask students to share their reactions to it as a whole group discussion. Do they agree/disagree with the position that is presented and why?
6) Conduct a Socratic Seminar with your students. Ask students to consider the videos they watched along with their definition of ‘humility’. You may consider launching the discussion with the following questions: “What is humility? How important is the virtue of humility in a leader? How important is humility in your own life – with your family, in school, at work, relationships, teammates?”
7)  Ask students to write a personal reflection based on the videos and class discussion. In their essay, students should explain a) one experience when they had to promote themselves, b) one experience when they had to show humility, c) how each experience served their purpose, and d) how significant humility is in elected officials.