Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains uses narratives to discuss the concepts of civic virtue in all classrooms. Topics range from Alice Paul and perseverance to Benedict Arnold and treason. Each virtue narrative includes corresponding discussion guides, journal templates, a toolbox with additional activities, and suggestions for further reading on each topic or virtue.

The Quest for Civic Virtue

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George Washington and Self-Governance Image

George Washington and Self-Governance

A look at the virtue of self-governance through the life of George Washington. Self-governance is defined as being self-controlled, avoiding extremes, and to not be excessively influenced or controlled by others. This lesson explores how George Washington’s self-governance influenced the early republic and how it influences what we value in both citizens and leaders.

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Benedict Arnold’s Treason Image

Benedict Arnold’s Treason

An exploration of the virtue of integrity through the life of Benedict Arnold. Integrity is defined as telling the truth, exposing untruths, and keeping your promises. The life of Benedict Arnold demonstrates the opposite of this principle. In doing so it highlights the true worth of the virtue of integrity.

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Thomas Jefferson and the Rewards of Humility Image

Thomas Jefferson and the Rewards of Humility

A look at the virtue of humility, which is defined as remembering that one’s ignorance is far greater than one’s knowledge. Readily giving praise to those who earn it. This virtue is explored through the life of Thomas Jefferson.

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Douglas MacArthur and Hubris Image

Douglas MacArthur and Hubris

Students will explore the vice of hubris or pride in a constitutional republic in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine the life of the heroic, but flawed, career of General Douglas MacArthur in World War II and the Korean War.  Through a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities, students will analyze whether MacArthur exhibited the vice of h ...

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How Jourdon Anderson Understood Justice Image

How Jourdon Anderson Understood Justice

Exploring the virtue of justice, defined as standing for equally applied rules and making sure everyone obeys them. The lesson looks at the life of Jourdon Anderson, an escaped slave who wrote a letter to his former master in 1865. The lesson explores two central questions: How can I seek justice on behalf of another person? On behalf of myself?

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Roger Taney and Injustice: The Dred Scott Decision Image

Roger Taney and Injustice: The Dred Scott Decision

Students will explore the vice of injustice in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney and the Dred Scott (1857) decision that instituted great injustice against African Americans by arguing that they cannot be citizens.  This lesson contains a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources related to the majority decision ...

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The Responsibilities of Frederick Douglass Image

The Responsibilities of Frederick Douglass

An in-depth look at responsibility through the life of Fredrick Douglass. Responsibility is defined as striving to know and to do what is best rather than what is most popular. To be trustworthy for making decisions in the best long-term interests of the people and the tasks of which one is in charge.

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John Brown and Self-Deception Image

John Brown and Self-Deception

Students will explore the vice of self-deception in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine John Brown deceived himself due to his self-righteousness that he could end slavery in the antebellum United States by freeing and arming slaves to launch a racial war in the South.  Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to dec ...

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Elizabeth Eckford, the Little Rock Nine, and Respect Image

Elizabeth Eckford, the Little Rock Nine, and Respect

An investigation of the virtue of respect and why it is important in a society that values individual liberty through the experience of Elizabeth Eckford and the Little Rock Nine.  Respect is defined as protecting your mind and body as previous aspects of your identity and to extend that protection to every other person you encounter.

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Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance Image

Maximilien Robespierre and Political Intolerance

Students will explore the vice of political intolerance in this lesson on civic virtue. Students will examine the role that Robespierre played in the mass murder of the Terror during the French Revolution and how his political intolerance led to a search for “enemies of the state.”  Students will analyze a historical narrative, a discussion guide, primary sources, and other activit ...

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The Unknown Rebel’s Courage at Tiananmen Square Image

The Unknown Rebel’s Courage at Tiananmen Square

An exploration of the virtue of courage using the example of an anonymous individual who refused to yield to a tank during the crackdown on protesters at Tiananmen Square.

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Aaron Burr and Ambition Image

Aaron Burr and Ambition

Students will explore the vice of ambition in a constitutional republic and civil society in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine the difference between self-serving ambition and noble ambition of great deeds, and then explore the character and career of Aaron Burr who engaged in various machinations to establish an empire out West and was put on trial for treason.  Students wi ...

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The Schechter Brothers’ Contribution Image

The Schechter Brothers’ Contribution

An exploration of individual’s contributions to society through the life of the Schechter Brothers. The virtue of contribution is defined as discovering your passions and talents, to use them to create what is beautiful and needed, to work hard, and to take care of yourself and those who depend on you.

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“Boss” Tweed and Avarice Image

“Boss” Tweed and Avarice

Students will explore the vice of greed in civil society in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine “Boss” Tweed and his corrupt New York political machine, how the vice of greed affected politics and civil society, through a historical narrative, discussion guide, and contemporary political cartoons by Thomas Nast. Students will also analyze vice by examining its oppo ...

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Alice Paul’s Perseverance for the Vote Image

Alice Paul’s Perseverance for the Vote

A look at the virtue of perseverance, which is defined as remembering how many people before you chosen the easy path rather than the right one and to stay the course, through the life and work of Alice Paul.

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Joseph McCarthy and Demagoguery Image

Joseph McCarthy and Demagoguery

Students will explore the vice of demagoguery in a constitutional republic in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine the anti-Communist crusade of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Cold War in the early 1950s.  Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to weigh whether McCarthy was expressing genuine concerns about Comm ...

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August Landmesser’s Courageous Refusal Image

August Landmesser’s Courageous Refusal

A look at the virtue of courage through the courageous action of August Landmesser. Courage is defined as standing firm in being a person of character and doing what is right, especially when it is unpopular or puts you at risk. The significance or courage in a society built on democratic principles is explored in this lesson.

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The Self-Deception of Irma Grese Image

The Self-Deception of Irma Grese

Students will explore the vice of self-deception in civil society in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine the life of Nazi Irma Grese who was an ordinary young woman who joined the Nazis and perpetrated great crimes in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.  Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, photographs, and other activities to try to understand how an or ...

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General Dwight D. Eisenhower Takes Responsibility for the D-Day Invasion Image

General Dwight D. Eisenhower Takes Responsibility for the D-Day Invasion

Students will explore the virtue of responsibility in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine the military decisions that Dwight Eisenhower made on D-Day in World War II and how he took responsibility for his grave decisions of launching the Normandy invasion.  Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to explore the virt ...

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Che Guevara and the Injustice of Communism Image

Che Guevara and the Injustice of Communism

Students will explore the vice of injustice in this lesson on civic virtue.  Students will examine the revolutionary life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara in establishing a Communist regime in Cuba with Fidel Castro.  Students will analyze a historical narrative, discussion guide, primary sources, and other activities to explore the effect of injustice during the Cuban revolution and unde ...

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