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

Activity 1: Up Side, Down Side

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers, and tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Post two sheets of newsprint, one headed "Humility - Up Side", the other headed "Humility - Down Side."
  • Post a third sheet headed "Does Humility mean...?" and write these definitions: "lack of pride," "subservience," "modesty," "lack of boastfulness," "lowering one's self," "honest opinion of one's self- worth," "I'm okay/You're okay," and "to feel inferior."

Description of Activity

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

Invite youth to take a moment and think about "humility" as a virtue. Point out the definitions of humility you have posted. Share that the adjective "humble" is the Begin a discussion, using these prompts:

  • Do the words "humble" and "humility" stir the same feelings within you? What is the difference?
  • What have you been told about humility, or being humble: what it means, when to use it, when not to use it? [For example, "humble" is often used with "meek," "poor," or "lowly." Are they all synonymous?]
  • Who defines humility? Does it mean different things to different people?
  • Is there anyone you admire who exhibits humility regularly? Give an example.
  • Do you have friends and/or family members who do not exhibit humility? How do you feel when you are around these people?
  • Has anyone ever "humbled" you? Intentionally or unintentionally? If intentionally, why do you think they did that? Do you know people who seem to feel the need to put down others in order to feel good about themselves?
  • How does pride relate to humility? Is it the opposite? Does that mean pride is bad? Or could pride belong on our list of virtues, too?
  • What is "false humility?"
  • What other questions come to mind when you think about humility?

During the discussion, begin to capture on newsprint participants' "up side" (positive) and "down side" (negative) comments about moderation as a virtue. Then, focus the youth on these questions...

  • What are the advantages to using humility?
  • What are disadvantages?

...and continue recording their comments on the newsprint.

To conclude, review the comments on the newsprint.