Heroes and Villains19 Lessons
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George Washington and Self-Governance
This lesson provides a look at the virtue of self-governance through the life of George Washington. Self-governance is defined as being self-controlled, avoiding extremes, and not being excessively influenced or controlled by others. This lesson explores how George Washington’s self-governance influenced the early republic and how it influences what we value in both citizens and leaders.
Benedict Arnold’s Treason
An exploration of the virtue of integrity through the life of Benedict Arnold. Integrity is defined as telling the truth, exposing untruths, and keeping your promises. The life of Benedict Arnold demonstrates the opposite of this principle. In doing so, it highlights the true worth of the virtue of integrity.
Thomas Jefferson and the Rewards of Humility
This lesson includes art analysis, secondary source analysis, and guided discussion to help students explore the important virtue of humility, and see how Thomas Jefferson demonstrated humility in public service.
Douglas MacArthur and Hubris
Students will explore the vice of hubris or pride in a constitutional republic in this lesson on civic virtue. Can a hero sometimes fall because of a character flaw related to pride? Why did the Founders place control of the military under elected officials? Students will examine the heroic, but flawed, character of General Douglas MacArthur in World War II and the Korean War. Through a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities, students will analyze whether MacArthur exhibited the vice of hubris and what effect it might have had on civil-military relations in a constitutional republic.
How Jourdon Anderson Understood Justice
This lesson addresses the virtue of justice, which requires that rules are applied and enforced equally for everyone. Students will analyze the virtue of justice by evaluating a letter from Jourdon Anderson to his former slave owner. They will consider how Jourdon received justice for himself and for his family and how they can seek justice on behalf of themselves and other people.
Roger Taney and Injustice: The Dred Scott Decision
Students will explore the vice of injustice in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney and the Dred Scott (1857) decision that instituted great injustice against African Americans by arguing that they cannot be citizens. This lesson contains a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources related to the majority decision and dissents in the Supreme Court case, and activities that guide students through analyzing the effect of injustice on constitutional principles and civil society.
The Responsibilities of Frederick Douglass
This lesson is an in-depth look at responsibility through the life of Frederick Douglass. Responsibility is defined as striving to know and to do what is best rather than what is most popular. A responsible person is trustworthy for making decisions in the best long-term interests of people and the best outcomes for the work to be done.
John Brown and Self-Deception
Students will explore the vice of self-deception in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine whether John Brown deceived himself with self-righteousness by thinking that he could end slavery in the antebellum United States by freeing and arming slaves to launch a racial war in the South. Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to decide whether it is acceptable to break the law based upon one's view of a higher law.
Elizabeth Eckford, the Little Rock Nine, and Respect
By tracing the experience of Elizabeth Eckford and the Little Rock Nine, this lesson provides an investigation of the virtue of respect and why it is important in a society that values individual liberty. Respect is defined as protecting your mind and body as precious aspects of your identity and extending that protection to every other person you encounter.
Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance
Students will explore the vice of political intolerance in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine the role that Robespierre played in the mass murder of the Terror during the French Revolution and how his political intolerance led to a search for "enemies of the state." Students will analyze a historical narrative, a discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to understand the destructive influence of political intolerance in the French Republic and in civil society.
The Unknown Rebel’s Courage at Tiananmen Square
An exploration of the virtue of courage using the example of an anonymous individual who refused to yield to a tank during the crackdown on protesters at Tiananmen Square.
Aaron Burr and Ambition
Students will explore the vice of ambition in a constitutional republic and civil society in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine the difference between self-serving ambition and noble ambition, and then explore the character and career of Aaron Burr. Burr engaged in various machinations to establish an empire in the West and was put on trial for treason. Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, and various activities to explore the effect of self-serving ambition in a constitutional republic and on civil society.
The Schechter Brothers’ Contribution
This activity examines the way the Schechter Brothers honored their faith and the trust of their customers. Although many of the New Deal programs helped Americans, some of the policies hurt some businesses. The National Recovery Administration policy of price controls prevented the Schechter Brothers from keeping their meat properly kosher. Their decision to continue their kosher methods was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
“Boss” Tweed and Avarice
Students will explore the vice of greed in civil society in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine “Boss” Tweed and his corrupt New York political machine, and how the vice of greed affected politics and civil society. They will read a historical narrative and review a discussion guide and contemporary political cartoons by Thomas Nast. Students will also analyze vice by examining its opposites, contribution and philanthropy.
Joseph McCarthy and Demagoguery
This lesson asks students to understand the dangers of demagoguery in a republican system through a series of activities that focus on developing civic virtue.
August Landmesser’s Courageous Refusal
This lesson provides a look at the virtue of courage through the courageous action of August Landmesser. Courage is defined as standing firm in being a person of character and doing what is right, especially when it is unpopular or puts you at risk. This lesson explores the significance of courage in a society built on democratic principles.
The Self-Deception of Irma Grese
In this lesson, students explore the problem of self-deception in the context of the World War II Holocaust. They consider how ordinary men and women can be indoctrinated to commit inhuman evil, and discuss how we can guard against ideologies that lead to these behaviors.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower Takes Responsibility for the D-Day Invasion
Students will explore the virtue of responsibility in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine the military decisions that Dwight Eisenhower made on D-Day in World War II and how he took responsibility for his grave decisions of launching the Normandy invasion. Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to explore the virtue of responsibility in a constitutional republic and civil society.
Che Guevara and the Injustice of Communism
This lesson helps students understand the role of Che Guevara in the Cuban Revolution and how the Communist system he fought for and helped install led to great injustice in Cuba, as well as contributed to global communist injustice.