Australian schoolchildren. Photo: Nicole Clements/Caritas Australia

Subsidiarity and Participation

Middle Primary

How do we contribute to a more just and fair world?

Teacher introduction

By the end of this unit, students will have explored the decision making systems in their school communities and begun to reflect on the role of conscience; analysed how decision making makes life easier for the poor using the example of Caritas Australia’s work in the favelas of São Paulo, Brazil; and explored their own role in the community.

Teachers, before you start:

  1. Watch the CST ‘Subsidiarity and Participation’ film and familiarise yourself with the with the Lower Primary cartoon (found within the Learning Experience below).
  2. Download the various resources referenced (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
  3. Locate any Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the Learning Experience below).
  4. Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.

Learn - Focus

Students explore the decision making systems in their school communities.

Read and display page 1, part 1 of the Subsidiarity and Participation comic. See teacher cartoon.

Use the cartoon questions for discussion.

Generate and display a list of decision makers in the home and at school.

Further discuss: Who else has any say in the decisions? Are students included? Does anyone ask them what they need or their opinions? Why might they be asked/not asked? Is it good to be included? Why?

Learn - Explore

Students explore Jesus’ commitment to service and justice.

Read and display page 1, section 2 of the Solidarity comic. See teacher cartoon

Use the questions for discussion: Who are the leaders you know? Who do leaders have to think about when they make decisions?

Teacher’s Note: The principle of Solidarity is deepened through the idea that leaders and decision makers need to show solidarity with the world’s poor. This is related to the structural causes of injustice and the need for leaders to show and maintain a concern for the most marginalised and excluded in local and global contexts. This is made personal for young students in the idea that all people can and need to show just leadership in everyday situations. Biblical and historical examples of just leadership are explored at the primary school level to establish strong models. At the high school level, this is expanded to look at the just leadership choices individuals can make and ‘lead in’ every day.

Learn - Demonstrate

Students explore leadership lessons from Scripture.

Leadership Lessons from the Bible

Read and display page 2, section 3 of the Solidarity comic. See teacher cartoon

Discuss: What does Maristely do to help her community? How is she showing God’s love to them? Who is Maristely thinking about when she makes decisions?
List some of Maristely’s qualities as a leader.

Discuss: What does Scripture say about leaders?

Use the ‘12 lessons’ of leadership’ worksheet, containing short summaries of the stories of 12 characters from the Bible and the leadership lessons that can be learned from them.

Cut up and distribute the summary cards without providing the headings – the ‘ leadership lessons’.
In small groups or pairs, students read the summary card and extract the leadership lesson that can be learnt from the character’s story. With the class, students read the story and share their leadership lessons.

The original headings can then be shared in a discussion of what students have gleaned from the texts.

Students select one leadership lesson to reflect on.


Students demonstrate and reflect on ways of acting justly.

Read and display page 2, section 4 of the Solidarity comic. See teacher cartoon

Discuss: What does ‘stand beside’ mean?

How have you as an individual, family, class or school ‘stood beside’ others? Students may suggest donating money during emergencies, or during Christmas appeals, etc.

As a class generate a list: What are some other things that the class or school community could do to help create a better world for people who do not have what they need?

Consider the rings depicted in the cartoon.
As a class or in groups, students design a symbol to display that visually reminds the class of their special job to stand in solidarity and look after each other.


Reread Mark 12:31

Students silently reflect.

Students record on a blog or written journal a reflective response ‘What would the world be like if everyone loved others as much as themselves?