Senior Capstone (Cultural Philosophy)

Hi, my name is Justin and I’m a senior in high school. For my senior capstone (independent study), I’m creating a unit on cultural philosophy for a global perspectives class. The unit will encompass a brief outlook on philosophy and more importantly how various cultures view our world through the philosophical ideals of their cultures. In doing this I hope to help students create a more tolerant and open view of the world. I’m looking for advice on ways: activities, discussion topics, songs, movies, etc, to teach this topic. Any and all advice will be considered. Thanks for your time and help.

My advice: don’t teach tolerance.

I’m not. Im creating a unit that teaches cultural philosophy in “hope” of making people more tolerant.

Let me retry.

My advice: don’t encourage tolerance.

You need to get some information together.

Compile a list of the cultures to be compared, do some fact finding and make a couple of powerpoint slides to convey everything you’re learned in a concise way.

Be sure to throw your opinion in there, that’s probably what they want you to do. You gotta make it obvious that you’re teaching tolerance. When people are taking tests and stuff, many often feel an adversarial relationship with the person giving them the test.

Tolerance test need to work extra hard not to instill those feeling in the testees, (pun not intended, but pretty funny, I mean, its not even a word).

Instilling that feeling in the testees does not promote tolerance.

Am I making sense?

This is real easy stuff.

If you’ve got powerpoint and the internet you can link up shit from youtube.

You can use a program called adobe captivate to give them a presentation broken up into sections with questions in the middle.

You can make decision trees w/ that shit.

What you tryin to do man???

Or you could just do that shit w/ an easel and one of those huge pads and this marker… … a=N&tab=iw

Dress up like a philosopher. Do you have a beard?

thanks for the advice. I’m breaking down a week unit. Day 1 brief history on philosophy, 2 religious philosophy 3 western philosophy, 4 chinese/eastern philosophy, 5 Not sure yet. I’m also just beggining so i have not done nearly as much research as i intend to. While teaching thiese units, I just want the students to discuss and understand how diff people live their lives according to different philosophical views. Example: a person may not understand why a terrorist (be whatever religion) considers being a martyr a good thing. H.S students need to be more knowledgable about other cultures and their views because these students pass judgement way to often without considering anything. Does that explain what Im trying to do?

Yes…let’s be tolerant of the terrorists…

It’s good to understand other points of view, but not all viewpoints are worthy of tolerance.

Alright, well, I haven’t picked it up to read it yet, but Crazy Like Us … 141658708X might be a good place to look for some ideas.

You could also look into all the problems the military has had with communication, especially gestures. Apparently soldiers hanging their feet over the sides of helicopters was offensive (showing the sole of the foot). In Iraq, the American gesture for ‘halt’ means ‘hello’ or ‘come here’. You could turn that into an activity by making some people guards and telling others the alternative meaning of the ‘halt’ hand signal. It’s not exactly a cultural philosophy problem, but it shows how different people do things.

This might not help here, but it’s cool:


Rush’s Territories is a good song. Very eighties, but good.

Seeing as my PM went unanswered - I’ll assume your just making lesson plans.

Firstly - there is a basic lesson cycle which you can adhere to to make everything flow smoothly and make an interative and interesting lesson of almost any sort:

  1. Set the context

  2. Elicit initial ideas.

  3. Input

  4. Direct discussion of input material.

  5. Related speaking activity.

This cycle may last anything from 40 mins to 2 hours, and may be spread across multiple lessons, even giving parts of it for homework. Obviously, not every lesson has to take this shape (I list quite a few different effective lesson types if you really want) - but this cycle is both basic and easy on the teacher, and takes the least skill to plan for. The advantages of this lesson structure should be clear - it allows students to spend time thinking about a subject, gives them information on it to consider, then leads to an open discussion activity which gives them time to express these ideas. The first stage is to make the context clear and engage Ss, the second to fourth is the ‘input’ or teaching time, the final stage the productive stage in which Ss express thier opinions and ideas formed in earlier stages.

Here is an example of how the cycle might work:

Lesson aim: To have Ss understand ways in which Buddhist thought differs to Western thought.
Sub aim: To have students discuss and assess the differences between Western and Buddhist thoughts.


  1. Set the context:

Put students in a group and give them a list of things which might be important when they are older (for example: [money, wealth, inner peace, a new car, a family, a nice house, a pet, frequent holidays, close friends, a healthy body). Ask them in groups to put these things in order of which will be most important to them when they are older.

When Ss have finished, get feedback from all the groups in a five minute discussion. Get one member of each group to explain thier list, and (if time permits) have others from different groups comment and ask the whole group questions.

  1. Ask the question - “Do you think that Buddhists would put these things in the same order?” Encourage a brief 5 minute discussion, trying to elicit things people know about buddhism.

  2. Input: either give a presentation or give out a reading text introducing Buddhism and relevant principals of Buddhism. Whilst doing it - give Ss a worksheet to fill in - perhaps a fill in the gaps or a structured note taking form. After each section of the presentation (or after they have finished reading), check the asnwers. This is just to keep people a bit more switched on. (this is stages three and four together of the plan above)

Obviously, the presentation/reading should focus on things which might be relevant to the debate in the first part of the lesson - but don’t try and force the links on the students. Simply outline and explain buddhist values in as simple and honest a way as you can. Don’t make any reference to the things in the list task above as far as possible.

  1. Finally, ask students to form new groups. This time, they are to re-do the list based on how they think a Buddhist would value each item. For this discussion, give pleanty of time. Circulate groups and encourage/remind them of relevant things in the presentstion and be on hand to answer any further questions about it (this is where extensive research comes in handy - a successful teacher should always have a broad knowledge of the subject to be able to answer questions when necessary [as well as to make sure that you are maintaing accuracy in the information you convey).

Do feedback in a similar way to feedback in the first task, but this time allow for more discussion and debate.

As a follow up task (for homework, say) you could ask Ss to think about ways in which western and buddhist cultures were seen to differ, and ways in which they might seem the same.

Here are some more possible activities which might fit in to the lesson plan:

  1. Setting the context with:
  • A class questionarre (students circulate and ask each other questions)

  • A picture description activity.

  • A quick quiz on the subject about to be taught.

  • OR - this stage can even be very very short - as short as showing a picture of a starving child and asking Ss to write down three words to describe it and then asking students to read themto the class.

  1. Normally a follow up from the first acitivity, this can be kept to just a quick class discussion of some sort.

  2. Input stage

  • A powerpoint
  • A video
  • A listening
  • A reading text
  • Or - could be set as a research project for homework and discussed in the next class.

Remember though - whatever you are doing with this stage, you have to make sure that students are interacting with the presentation. So if its a video - give them questions about the content of the video that direct them to what you want them to learn. After the video, discuss the answers. Don’t just show the video and then ask ‘so what do you all think?’ - this is kinda lazy and will cause most Ss to switch off.

  1. Productive activities:

Roleplays (person A is from one culture, person B from another - have a discussion about topic x)
Debates (team debates - structure by having small groups discuss the topic (designate them as either for or against), then form larger groups and draft an argument and select speakers, and finally have the debate)
Class discussion (you can structure like the debate above, or just ask everyone what they think and let others comments. If you do this - prepare 5-10 general and open questions and, if the discussion on one question dries up, ask another question. These can be from 5 minutes to half an hour long.

The final words of advice:

  • keep everything interactive and engaging by keeping Ss involved
  • don’t push your own ideas - give objective input and then let the discussion evolve around that
  • keep clear aims for every lesson / set of lessons.
  • prepare everything as best you can.

I hope that helps. If you want more advice, answers, ideas or practical tips, PM me.

And remember to acknowledge anything you lift from here directly in a reference. The lesson plan was an example, I did not intend to do your homework for you.


If you notice - the lesson plan I whipped up deliberately does not fit in to any of posters desired subject areas completely, but also overlaps some of them enough to make sure that it can’t be used as the mystery 5th topic.

This was about the best I could do in making the lesson plan a useful but unuseable example.

If the poster then goes and changes his lesson titles to use the lesson plan I made directly - well - thats thier choice.

Okay, so if this is about lesson plans, I’m moving it to Hall of Questions.

Excellent work, BTW, Brevel.

Thanks to all who gave me input, and yes I understand not to take directly from the posts but to incorporate the ideas into a successful class discussion or activity. If I have further questions, I will be sure to post again. Thanks again!

No, I mean, are you trying to say your material is copyrighted?

It’s a message board, yo. 'Tis in the public domain now. Why would he bother to cite you?

All original material is copyrighted. My work is not in the public domain until I decalare it to be, which I have not done, or until the copyright expires.

So yes, legally it is copyrighted.

Not that that was what I was saying, nor that I care about the legal stuff at all. In reality I am very unlikely to sue an American high school student for using a lesson plan that I freely gave him. I was merely pointing out that for academic purposes, it is generally against the rules to present something as your own which you did not in fact create (plagarism), and that I didn’t want to look like I was encouraging plagarism.

First of all, you’re an anonymous poster on the internet.

Second, any schlub can find your post on google.

Third, he’s not trying to make a profit.


He would only have to ask your permission if he was quoting you from a copyright perspective. From a plagiarism perspective…well, where’s your citation for your less plan format? Oh wait, public domain.

Fifth, he was asking for simple friendly advice. You appear so high up on your horse that you didn’t get that…“Seeing as my PM went unanswered - I’ll assume your just making lesson plans.[1]” Really dude? Really?

  1. monkey, brevel. “Re: Senior Capstone (Cultural Philosophy)”. viewtopic.php?f=25&t=171192. Feb 23, 2010.

You seem very offended by my breif comment. I never said anything about copyright until you did. I don’t care about the copyright one iota. All the last sentence of my post was saying was, be careful to use the information properly to avoid plagarism. Say, for example, he used the plan directly and then his teacher browsed this forum and saw it - he could potentially fail the whole project. Plus - other people reading the forum might think that I was simply ‘doing his homework for him’ in my post, when actually my only aim was to share some of my experience and give some general advice.

I PMd him asking whether the lessons were just to be submitted as plans or actually taught. I have no experience with American high schools so I didn’t know. If it were the latter, I would have given more practical advice on how to run the activities in a classroom. The note at the beggining was there in case he wanted to correct this assumption. Thats all. Whats this got to do with you anyway?

I think your somehow getting annoyed by an imaginary debate about copyright and a small note in my post that clearly didn’t concern you anyway.

I was clearly and deliberately sharing my ideas/knowledge with him freely, and with anyone else who reads the thread. He requested some advice, and I gave some. You seem to have a problem with this.

By the way - you can reference message boards if you really want to. You can and should reference anything that was not originally your work that you wish to use. Failure to do so is plagarism. That it came from an anonymous poster on the internet is no excuse for stealing someone elses ideas and passing them off on thier own. Academic references have literally nothing to do with copyright at all. For a start, all texts over a hundred years old are in the public domain, and many original source materials of all types are anonymous. But you still have to reference them. Thankfully the OP’er understands this, so more needs to be said.

Plus - nothing I have written here is ‘in the public domain’ anyway.

Freindly advice is precisely what I gave. He asked for ideas, activities and the such, I gave him bulkloads.

From your own site:

You may be correct on a technicality, but good luck with enforcing it. However, I don’t even think you could play on technicalities; you didn’t post anything original or artistic. You said yourself it’s a basic five step plan. For god’s sake: That took me ten seconds to find.

I’m not offended or annoyed about an imaginary debate, just your emphasis on getting acknowledged. The statement “I did not intend do your homework for you[1],” with emphasis, is hubristic and in poor taste. Asking to be referenced is not friendly.

  1. monkey, brevel. “Re: Senior Capstone (Cultural Philosophy)”. viewtopic.php?f=25&t=171192. Feb 23, 2010.


Oh, don’t get on my case because I’m on a particularly pissy streak this month, Faust. You know I’m right.