The students define civil courage and write about this topic. The style of writing can be chosen freely by the students.

Aims and objectives

  • to develop a deeper understanding of Civil Courage
  • to support developing positive group dynamics
  • to give studens space to experiment with one form of expression (writing)

Material needed

  • Flipchart
  • Paper, pens
  • Sticky dots for voting


Provide sheets of papers for the students.

Step by step description

  1. Warm up: Crossword COURAGE.
    Explain: Think of words that relate to yourself and to courage. Write them into the “crossword” COURAGE.
  2. What is Civil Courage? Discuss what the term means.
    Example: Civil Courage is based on democratic values and civil society, and requires personal courage, because it might contain certain risks for the acting person. Or: a courageous action by which someone expresses displeasure about something regardless of possible disadvantages for himself/herself. Courage means not to look away, but to interfere.
    (Quotes on online-platform Current Concerns, accessed October 2014, see also further tips and resources.
    Highlight the difference between courage and Civil Courage as well as the common ground of both terms.
  3. Speed Dating: Defining Civil Courage for yourself and with others
    Two circles of chairs, an inside and an outside circle facing each other. Two people sit across from each other. They get the chance to meet for 4 minutes and talk, 2 minutes each. Timing is supported by you (the teacher) by ringing a bell. After both partners have spoken, the inner circle moves one seat in clockwise direction. After the next round the outer circle moves in counter-clockwise direction and so on. Tasks for the students:
    Share your crossword on COURAGE.
    Share a story of somebody who has shown Civil Courage (a person who makes this world a place that is more fair and just).
  4. Writing about Civil Courage: free choice of style of writing, students write in their own language.
    Poetry: Poetry tries to put into words the essence of a thing, a person, a topic. Choose one aspect of Civil Courage. Write a poem about it.
    Fairy Tale: Write a short story about Civil Courage.
    Letter to the editor: What is not right in your school? Where can you see injustice and abuse of power? What needs to be changed? Write a letter to your (imaginary) school newspaper, describe the situation and suggest what they and others could do to change it.
    My story: Tell the story of when they were treated unfairly or excluded and somebody helped them. Tell the story of when somebody else was treated unfairly or excluded and you helped this person.
    Dream: Martin Luther King made history as a non-violent fighter for equal rights of black people. His speech „I have a dream“ reached millions and changed the world. Dream of your world and life without injustice. What does it look like? Describe it.
    Definition: Read through the definitions and texts about Civil Courage. Try to write your own definition of what Civil Courage means for you.
    Text Message/SMS: Suggest what you and the people in your surrounding can do to make this world a better and more fair place. Write them a (virtual) text message. You can even send the message, when you are back home!
  5. Different aspects of Civil Courage
    Group work: Share parts of your texts, aha-moments, stories etc. What is Civil Courage for you? Students write down three main words or phrases. Presentation to plenary.
  6. Top Ten aspects of Civil Courage: Each person gets to vote for his/her top five (by attaching sticky dots on the cards). Presentation of Top Ten.
  7. If the students agree, a sample of texts or the best written composition could be published in school.

Reflection for the students / questions for debriefing

  • Was it difficult or easy to write a text about Civil Courage?
  • What do you think about the texts of you colleagues? Were there any surprises?
  • What helps to act in a manner of Civil Courage?
  • Where can you see inequality and injustice in your school/community/country?

Reference / original source of method

This method was facilitated by Katrin Lüth as part of the Field of Experience “Civil Courage” at the aces Academy 2012 in Senec, Slovak Republic.

Further tips and resources

What is Civil Courage? You can find definitions and examples on the online platform
Current Concerns. The international journal for independent thought, ethical standards, moral responsibility and for the promotion and respect of public international law, human rights and humanitarian law.