- Ethical Literacy Outcome: #5 Moral Courage
- Schools of Integrity Finding: Pervasive Attention to Ethics and Values; Relationships Fuel Learning and Ethical Development; Authentic Student Input
- To explore the relationship between self expression and moral courage
Preparation and Materials
1. Read a version of the Diego Rivera story to your students, then post it or provide copies.
The Rockefellers wanted to have a mural put on the ground-floor wall of Rockefeller Center. Nelson Rockefeller wanted Henri Matisse or Pablo Picasso to do it because he favored their modern style, but neither was available. Diego Rivera was one of Nelson Rockefeller’s mother’s favorite artists and therefore was commissioned to create the huge mural. He was given a theme: “Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future.” Rockefeller wanted the painting to make people pause and think. … The huge mural had many parts including: society women drinking alcohol, pictures of cells, Leon Trotsky and finally the famous Lenin portion (depicting communism) which upset Rockefeller. -Wikipedia.org
2. Post the Venn Diagram for Moral Courage: Intersecting circles labeled “Principles”, “Danger”, “Endurance”
3. Have blank paper or copies of the Venn Diagram available for step #5 below.
- Discuss the story and print/slide of Diego Rivera’s U.S. mural “Man at the Crossroads”
- Review the elements of the Moral Courage Venn Diagram.
- Split your class into two groups. One will discuss moral courage from Diego Rivera’s point of view. The other will discuss moral courage from Rockefeller’s point of view.
- Within each larger group (“Rivera” or “Rockefeller”), ask students to pair up or form smaller groups to discuss the Venn Diagram as it relates that group’s assigned point of view in the story.
- Now ask pairs or smaller groups to come back together and consolidate thinking. Provide each large group with a copy of the Moral Courage Venn Diagram (or ask them to draw the Venn Diagram on the blank paper provided). Assign/ask for a note-taker/presenter in each group. The note-taker/presenter fills in the Venn Diagram based on the group’s discussion, listing the principles at stake, the danger perceived, and possible sources that compelled a commitment to moral courage.
- Note-taker/presenters stand before the class and present their group’s point of view to the other group.
- Discuss as a whole class, particularly emphasizing that both Rivera and Rockefeller were both acting according to their principles, but they were at odds. Remind your students that if ethics were easy, we wouldn’t have to think about it much!
- (optional) Ask your students to develop and perform skits of Rivera and Rockefeller discussing their differences and explaining why they are compelled to act.