Definitions of Virtue
Our 139 American Portraits narratives profile historic actors and their actions within the context of virtue. Below is a list of those virtues and the narratives which explore them. For a text list of all lessons, view our "Narrative List" page.
For more robust lesson treatment, check out our partners at the Character Formation Project
Answers the question, “Who am I?” Studying the identity of others challenges students to think about what traits and actions make up their own character.
Purpose (Self-Governance, Moderation)
Purpose is the answer to the question, “why do I exist?” It is the reason for which I exist; it is my goal, that thing to which my actions are directed. It is our answer to the question “what are you for?”
Acting on good judgment about what is right or wrong, deserving the trust of others. To strive to know and do what is best, not what is most popular. To be trustworthy for making decisions in the best long-term interests of the people and tasks of which they are in charge. Individuals must take care of themselves and their families, and be vigilant to preserve their liberty and the liberty of others.
To tell the truth, expose untruths, and keep your promises. In examining the stories of those who have practiced integrity, students will learn the challenges and benefits of acting with integrity.
The ability to take constructive action in the face of fear or danger. To stand firm as a person of character and do what is right, especially when it is unpopular or puts you at risk.
Self-sacrifice is purposeful action exchanging personal loss for the good of others. Students will see how acting selflessly benefits society.
Respect (Humility, Civil Discourse)
Honor or admiration of someone or something. To protect your mind and body as precious aspects of your identity. To extend that protection to every other person you encounter.
Upholding of what is fair, just, and right. To stand for equally applied rules that respect the rights and dignity of all, and make sure everyone obeys them.
Diligence (Perseverance, Initiative)
Diligence is intrinsic energy for completing good work. Students will learn about how acting diligently in pursuit of a goal or objective can help them build their character.