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Understanding Filial Piety and Confucianism

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Jennifer Chang
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Understanding Filial Piety and Confucianism

Grade: 6

Subject: Understanding Filial Piety and Confucianism 

Lesson Aim/Objective: The objective of this lesson is to expose the sixth grade students to the concept of filial piety in Confucianism. This will help the students get a clearer picture of the expectations of a Confucius society, and allows students to have a deeper understanding of Confucianism in order to compare with the philosophies of Daoism and Legalism later on in the unit. 

Materials: Laptop, Smartboard, Highlighter, 24 Stories of Filial Devotion, Pencil, Paper 

Common Core Standards:  

CA HSS Content Standards: 6.6.3, 6.6.4

CCSS ELA - Literacy RH - 6-8.2, 6-8.3, 6-8.2, 6-8.5, 6-8.6, 6-8.7

Background Information: Confucius was a famous Chinese philosopher (551 BCE- 479 B.C.E) whose teachings are still important today. He worked to create a China that had peace and stability, believed that we should treat each other justly in our relationships, and that compassion was important in daily life. His teachings directly affected the change in how government positions were given to men in the Han dynasty. Instead of passing down government positions to sons of men in power, candidates were evaluated through civil service examinations to gain positions in the government. 

Day 1: Introduction to Confucius 


  1. Hook: What do you think these proverbs mean? 

  2. (10 minutes) - Have students analyze Confucius’ proverbs and write down their thoughts on what it means in their own words. 


  3. (10 minutes) - Then, as a whole group, have students discuss Confucius’ philosophy and teachings based on his proverbs. 

  4. (5 minutes) - Explain that he emphasized the following things in his teachings (taken from Ducksters

    1. Treat others kindly

    2. Have good manners and follow daily rituals

    3. A man should have good morals and ethics

    4. Family was important and ancestors were to be respected

    5. A true man had the qualities of integrity, righteousness, altruism, goodness, and loyalty

    6. One should practice moderation in all things

    7. He believed in a strong and organized central government

  5. (10 minutes) - Take notes on Confucius’ life while watching the following TED-ED video. 


    2. During this, take time to introduce the 5 human relationships in Confucianism (ruler and ruled, friend and friend, husband and wife, older sibling and younger sibling, and father and son) 

  6. (5 minutes) - Exit Ticket: Write one thing that you learned about Confucius and why it is important.

Day 2: Confucianism and Filial Piety (Jigsaw Activity) 


  1. Explain that we will be focusing on the “father and son” relationship of Confucianism today. 

  2. (15 minutes) - Assign four groups a different comic/reading of “24 Stories of Filial Devotion”. 

  3. Have each group highlight and write down the values and themes that they notice in each comic. Answer the question: How does this story relate to Confucianism? After reading these stories, what values do you think were important during this time? 

  4. (15 minutes) - Number off each student in the group. All 1’s in a group come together to teach each other about the story they just read. All 2’s, 3’s, 4’s do the same. 

  5. (10 minutes) - Come together as a whole group and share your thoughts on the stories. Then, answer the following discussion questions: How do these values relate to present day life? Do you think you would abide by these expectations of filial piety? Why do you think Confucius thought these relationships were important? 

  6. If time allows - start brainstorming your own comic strip in preparation for tomorrow’s activity. 

Day 3-4: Filial Piety Skit in Modern Times 

  1. In groups, have students come up with their own stories of filial piety (or any of the proverbs/teachings of Confucius), but set in modern day times. 

  2. Students must have a brainstorm/draft of their idea before they can start creating props/rehearse. 

  3. Students will then present their skit to the class. 

  4. The audience will be required to analyze the skit, and write down what values they think the presenters are trying to portray in their skit. 

  5. Teacher will grade students' skits based on the Performance Rubric.

Assessment Activity

  1. Responses to discussion question/informal observations

  2. Final Skits 

Follow Up/Extension:

There may be a possibility of watching Confucius (Kong zi) (2010) at the end of our unit, depending on student interest. 

After students learn about Confucianism, they will then compare their knowledge of this philosophy to Daosim and Legalism.