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topic two – physical appearance

teacher's notes - general approach

Individuals are often unaware of their own gifts and the aspects of their character which others value. It is often easier to see others' annoying or negative characteristics than to appreciate their good points. This topic tries to encourage pupils to value each other and to realise that each person is unique.

physical self

Although human beings are made up of similar components, each individual is totally unique. One way into the exploration of self-respect could be through the physical. Activity one illustrates how looking different is part of what makes an individual special.

However, we are sometimes dissatisfied with the very things which are unique about us (cf. worksheet 3 page 10, My nose is too big). If the reasons for such thinking can be identified, it may assume less importance.

What is regarded as beautiful can differ widely between cultures. If members of the class come from more than one culture, these differences could be explored together or, if not, research could be done.

inner self

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" takes these ideas one step further. It starts the process of realising that "beauty" can be independent of physical appearance and that the way a person looks is therefore not the best guide to knowing what he or she is really like.

Stories that could be used as resources here are, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the film The Elephant Man, the musical Phantom of the Opera (or the original book by Gaston Leroux) and Walking Tall by Simon Weston.


There are worksheets on pages 9, 10, 11, and 12 with ideas for various activities which explore the meaning of self-respect. Decide with the class which activities they think will be most helpful in discovering how they can gain self-respect and how they can also help others to do so.


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