Dignity of the human person
How is dignity upheld?
By the end of this unit, students will have explored the significance that we are all made in the image and likeness of God and the social implications of this; and questioned what happens when others are not treated fairly, in light of this knowledge.
Teachers, before you start:
- Watch the CST for your own background and familiarise yourself with the Lower Primary cartoon (found within the Learning Experience below).
- Download the various resources referenced (worksheets, slides, etc.) and have them ready to go on your computer/interactive whiteboard.
- Locate any Scriptures and copies of Church texts (all hyperlinked within the Learning Experience below).
- Familiarise and decide on the use of online or app technologies.
Teacher's Note: The Big Question for this Learning Experience may need to be rephrased for lower primary students. For example: ‘What makes me special?’ ‘What makes people special? ‘How should we treat each other?’
Explore the significance of humans being made in the image and likeness of God.
Tune into students’ current understandings of God’s love for us.
Some sample questions for discussion include: What does the Bible say about God’s love for us? How do we know God loves us? Does God love everyone?
Display the Scripture: Genesis 1:27
Discuss how Scripture tells us that God loves all people: boys, girls, the elderly and young people, everywhere around the world. Each person is precious, unique and loved by God, because God made us, that means we are all very special, and very important, no matter where we live, what we look like or what we have. We are special only because God made and loves us.
Read the poem ‘The gift of me’.
Students individualise the poem on the ‘Gift of me’ worksheet for Foundation or Year 1-2 students.
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Celebrate that God has created each person uniquely, and therefore each person is infinitely loved. Explore the social implication of this.
Discuss: What makes us special?
Highlight the Christian belief that one’s unique characteristics are God given. We are special and of infinite worth because God created us, not because of what we have or what we do.
Paper Doll chain
In small groups or as a class create a paper doll chain.
Students write or draw characteristics that make people they know special. List some qualities that they might choose to include, such as kindness, generosity, sense of humour. Each paper doll represents a different person they know.
In the middle of the paper doll chain, write the Scripture verse Genesis 1:27.
On the other side of the paper doll chain, write a class statement that describes how ‘All humans are precious because God made them”.
Discuss how we are joined together as a family and that God loves each of us equally. You could display the paper doll chain as a banner in the classroom or hallway.
Celebrate how wonderful it is that God made each person so unique with so many gifts. Offer students the opportunity to express spontaneous prayers of thanksgiving.
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Explore social implications of individual dignity.
Explain that there is another part to this wonderful news; that God invites us to show his love to each other. We experience God through our friends, family and the Church. This means we have to treat people with respect and fairness.
Read Mark 12:28-31
What does this tell us about how Jesus wants us to love one another?
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Question what happens when others are not treated fairly, in light of our knowledge that God created us and loves us equally.
Display the Lower Primary 'Dignity of the Human Person' cartoon vignette.
Discuss: What are some of things we can do to love our neighbour?
Introduce the work of Caritas Australia; Caritas Australia works to love our neighbours all around the world.
Explain that there are some people around the world that do not have the things they need to live. These are the people that Caritas works with. They work with them because since they know how much God loves them, they believe they need to love people in that same way. God’s love is shown when we love and serve others.
Teacher's Note: Caritas Australia works with all people, of all religions, ethnicities, creed, gender, sexuality, age or ability. Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and therefore has inherent dignity. No human being should have their dignity or freedom compromised. This is the principle of ‘Dignity of the human person’.
Discuss: What are some of the other things people definitely need to live?
Teacher's Note: Caritas Australia works to uphold the dignity of all people. Poverty, hunger, oppression and injustice make it impossible to live a life commensurate with this dignity. Therefore, the notion of dignity is explored through the idea of basic needs and access to resources and services. This is introduced in Lower Primary and developed in Middle Primary learning experiences using the Brazil case study. It is therefore inextricable from the principle of ‘preferential option for the poor’.
Basic Needs poster
As a class, create a poster or anchor chart that lists the basic things we need to live a life that feels good and secure. Discuss the difference between needing something and wanting something.
You could use the template provided, filling the blank spaces with examples of 'basic needs'.
Discuss: What are some of the things we know Caritas does to help people feel special?
Explain that we show God’s love to each other when we do something to help them.
Discuss how you might take action. This might be for another class member, or student or teacher in the school.
Emphasise that we can learn to show God’s love to the people around us first.
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Take up God’s invitation to show His love to others- to love and care for myself and others.
You may like to listen to the song ‘God Loves me’ VeggieTales for reflection. It may be found online.
Students individually write/draw a prayer of thankfulness to God for the creating and love them.
Write a class prayer, asking God to help you remember and enact the ‘greatest commandment’ in Mark 12:30- 31.
Display the class prayer.
Year 1 and 2 students personalise the statement “ I will treat others_______________ because ____________.”
Discuss some of the responses students are thinking of, for example "I will treat others fairly because I like to be treated fairly, or I will treat others well because God loves me". A template has been provided for the option to display a class’ collective commitment. These could be printed as A5 size to display.
Alternatively, the sentence could be completed simply in a reflection or learning journal.
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