Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 1: Ideal vs. Reality

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Post blank newsprint.

Description of Activity

Participants identify positive and negative aspects of the day's virtue.

Choose a volunteer to take notes on newsprint. Ask the group to define "honesty." Do the same for "trust", and "integrity." The first two terms are easy. Integrity is harder. There are two primary definitions. One is "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." The other definition is "the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished." Talk about how these two definitions relate to this program. Guide the group to define integrity as a virtue.

You might say:

The ancient Greek philosophers believed that true happiness resulted when something fulfills its true purpose. They believed the true purpose of human beings is to survive, thrive, and form meaningful relationships. How will living a life of honesty, trust, and integrity help you do that?

Now invite the youth to play "Ideal versus Reality." In this game, one person takes center stage and states an ideal that surrounds this virtue. Then the floor is open and anyone can take center stage and state a reality that conflicts with the ideal. Here are examples:

Ideal: Honesty is the best policy.

Reality: Being too honest can lose you a friend or a job.

Ideal: You can trust a priest or a minister.

Reality: Some ministers and priests abuse trust and harm children.

Ideal: The world respects people who act with integrity.

Reality: Many people become rich by cheating others.

End the game, then invite participants to share other questions or thoughts about integrity, honesty, and trust. Mention the quality of trustworthiness, which means that others can trust you. Use these questions:

  • How have integrity, honesty, trust, and trustworthiness played out in your life?
  • Who do you know that you consider a person of integrity? Why?
  • Have you ever lost trust in someone? What were the circumstances?
  • Has anyone ever lost trust in you? What were the circumstances? Were you able to regain their trust? How?
  • What are some of the reasons people lie? Are these reasons legitimate excuses sometimes?

Including All Participants

If some participants have mobility limitations, play Ideal vs. Reality with everyone seated; allow youth to call out contributions "popcorn style."