Teaching Guide:

for grades 7-12
This material is from the teaching guide for the video "Honesty" in the series
"In Search of Character" produced in association with CHARACTER COUNTS!

Are You an Honest Person?
(Take this self-evaluation and decide for yourself.)

True False  
I am truthful, sincere, and straightforward.
I don't lie, cheat, or steal.
I don't intentionally mislead others.
I think I am / am not an honest person because: ___________________

Being honest frees us to be real.

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"Honesty" - The Video
Choosing to be honest or dishonest does something to our character. Lying makes us liars. Cheating makes us cheaters. But being honest frees us to be real. Learn more . . .

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"In Search of Character"
"In Search of Character"
The Series
This award winning video series spotlights ten core virtues that help teens develop into caring, respectful, responsible people who make choices based on what's right, rather than what they can get away with.
Learn more . . .

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For more information about individual videos in this series, click on the title below.

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If you are using the video, ask questions 1-3 before viewing.

1. How many lies do you get to tell before you are a liar?

2. Do you consider yourself to be an honest person? Why?

3. What would you do if you found $10,000 on the shelf beneath an ATM machine and nobody saw you find it?

4. In the opening documentary, some kids thought that Matt and Chris were saps for returning the money they found. What do you think of their decision?

5. The girl who found the lost beeper said she felt guilty and that giving it back would be the right thing to do. Why, then, is she keeping it? What advice would you give to her?

6. People often rationalize their own dishonesty by saying, "That’s the way the world is, so why should I be different?" What do you think of this reasoning?

7. One of Dr. Mike's guidelines for making good choices is to ask yourself, "How would I feel if this were printed on the front page of the newspaper?" How might that help keep you honest?

8. Is there anything wrong with a "small" lie to parents or friends to keep from upsetting them?

9. One girl in the teen discussion said she doesn't count little lies as lies. How do you feel about that idea?

10. When people are dishonest with you, how does it make you feel?

11. Dr. Mike’s co-host, S.E., comments that lying ruins relationships. Do you agree? Has that ever happened to you?

12. What is your definition of an honest person?

13. How important is it to you that your friends be honest?

14. If you discover your classmates are cheating on an important exam, does that make it okay for you to cheat, too?

15. It’s been said that cheating is just another form of lying. Do you agree?

16. Dr. Mike makes the point that dishonesty turns us into phonies, but honesty allows us to be real. What does that mean? Do you agree?

17. S.E. observes that simply being honest makes life a lot easier. What does she mean by that? Do you agree? Have you experienced this in your own life?

18. What risks are involved in being honest? What risks are involved in being dishonest? How do you benefit from being an honest person?

19. What does honesty have to do with your character?

(If you wish to copy or use any material from this website, please click here for Terms of Use.)

To find elementary and middle school teaching guides on topics related to Honesty, click here.


1. Pick any question from the discussion questions (above) and write an essay on it.

2. Select an advertisement from a magazine or newspaper, or from radio or TV. Analyze it for honesty:

-Does it explicitly say anything you think is untrue? Is it trying to make you believe something that might not be true? Is it lying by omission, i.e. leaving out important information that would make a difference to you? Is it misleading in any way? Does it present any half-truths?

-Take any political speech (especially a campaign speech) and analyze it in the same way.

3. What is a phony? How does dishonesty turn people into phonies? What does it mean when you say that a person is "real" or "authentic"? What does being "real" have to do with honesty?

4. What is the relationship between honesty and trustworthiness? Write an essay exploring this relationship.

5. Write an essay about a situation in which you were dishonest (lied, cheated, or stole). Why did it happen? How did you justify it? How did you feel about it at the time? Did it affect any of your relationships? Did it cause any problems for you? How do you feel about it now? What did you learn from it?

6. Write a letter to someone in the news whose honesty has impressed you.

(If you wish to copy or use any material from this website, please click here for Terms of Use.)

Other teaching guides in this series:

  •  Trustworthiness
•  Respect
•  Responsibility
•  Fairness
•  Caring
•  Citizenship
•  Honesty
•  Courage
•  Diligence
•  Integrity


1. Have the students keep an "Honesty-Dishonesty" journal for one week. In this journal, document examples of honesty and dishonesty in everyday life. Keep track of all the times you hear or tell "white lies." Pay particular attention to the media. See what role honesty plays in stories covered in the news. Note how often dishonesty is at the core of TV sitcoms and dramas. At the end of a week, write your conclusions and share them with the class. What did you learn about your own behavior from doing this project?

2. As a class, brainstorm all the excuses and rationalizations people give for lying, cheating, and stealing, and then have a discussion about them. How valid are they? What’s wrong with each of them?

3. Conduct a survey in your school or community asking questions like the following: Do you think people are honest enough? What are some examples of dishonesty you really dislike? What are some examples of honesty that you especially appreciate? Compile the results into a report.

4. Role-play various situations where one or more students are under pressure to be dishonest. Examples: helping a friend cheat on an assignment or exam, or lying to cover up for someone. Put it on videotape and share it with other classes.

5. Create an "honesty" website. Then, contact us (by e-mail ) so we can check it out.

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