Students develop and demonstrate the character trait of trustworthiness. They understand that trust is an essential ingredient in meaningful and lasting relationships as well as school and career success and they strive to earn the trust of others by demonstrating the ethical virtues of integrity, honesty, promise-keeping, and loyalty.

Key Beliefs:
  • Trust is essential to all my personal relationships.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • It is not worth lying or cheating because it hurts your character.
  • It is important to keep promises and commitments.
  • Provide examples of key characters in a classroom story or historical figure that demonstrated the importance of trustworthiness.
  • Explore and examine people and situations within the context of the curriculum as to how issues of honesty or integrity were addressed, and the consequences of their actions.
  • Role–play scenarios in which telling the truth could hurt, and then other scenarios in which telling the truth could help.
  • Examine situations (historical, literary, or current) in which promises were broken, and what the results were of the actions taken within the context of the story.
  • Many people complain that political leaders cannot be trusted. Develop a checklist for evaluating the trustworthiness of political leaders. Test out your checklist by listening to a politician speaking on TV or by what is written in a newspaper or magazine article.
  • Develop a list of dos and don’ts for being a trustworthy person. Prepare a report addressing the following questions: What happens when people live in accordance with these guidelines? What happens when they don’t? How does trustworthy/untrustworthy behavior affect our community and society? In what ways can/do young people demonstrate trustworthiness?
  • Watch a movie, TV drama, or sitcom, paying particular attention to the behavior of the main characters in regard to trustworthiness. How much trustworthy behavior did they find? How much untrustworthy behavior? Have a class discussion about these issues.
  • Write an essay describing what our society might be like if nobody were trustworthy; if suspicion, dishonesty, and betrayal were the norm; if nobody could be counted on to keep commitments.
  • Write about someone they trust. Why do they trust that person? How important is that trust to them? How do they reciprocate?
  • Keep a journal for a month that focuses on their relationships with friends and family in the area of trustworthiness. If there are things you don’t like, you can develop some ideas for improving the situation.
  • Within the context of the curriculum, determine a time when trust was lost. Was this trust ever regained? How?
  • “We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot”. – Abraham Lincoln
  • “The pursuit of truth will set you free – even if you never catch up with it.” – Clarence Darrow
  • “A lie has speed, but truth has endurance.” – Edgar J. Mohn
  • “What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.” – Jewish proverb
  • “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” – Elvis Presley,
  • “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive and realistic.” – John F. Kennedy
  • “The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” – George Bernard Shaw
  • “How many times do you get to lie before you are a liar?” – Michael Josephson
  • “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

A Monument to Value
Students discuss traits related to trustworthiness and suggest images that represent this value. They build a monument to trustworthiness to reinforce the lesson. 


  • Photo of at least one famous monument
  • Paper and pencils or pens
  • Drawing paper, markers, crayons
  • Building materials: scissors, glue, clay, straws, Popsicle sticks, etc. (optional)


  1. Present a picture of a famous monument (e.g., Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial). Discuss what it represents. Offer information and explain the history of the monument. Discuss why it was built and why monuments are constructed.
  2. Discuss trustworthiness and these four components: honesty, promise-keeping, integrity, and loyalty. List them on the board. Ask: What kind of people, animals, or images could represent trustworthiness? Why? List their ideas on the board.
  3. Divide students into groups. Say: Now that we’ve discussed trustworthiness, you’re going to build a monument to celebrate and honor it.
  4. Encourage them to be creative. Remind them of the four components. Suggest that the monument could be an animal, person, or object.
  5. Distribute building materials (or drawing paper and crayons). Tell them to design and construct (or draw) an image that represents trustworthiness. Tell them they will present their monument of trustworthiness to the class and explain what aspect of the value their image represents.

Is It Trust or Distrust?

Learning Objective: To identify and apply factors that increase and decrease people’s trustworthiness

Materials: Sheets of chart paper; markers; masking tape


Part 1

  • Tell the students to think of three people they trust very much: One of them should be a public figure, one should be a friend or a family member, and one should be a person from school. They do not have to reveal the identity of these people to anyone else.
  • Ask the students to identify what makes them trust these three people very much. Have them make a list of the trust factors on a piece of paper. These trust factors could be common to all three or they could be specific to one or two of the selected people.
  • Ask the students to select three other people they distrust the most. One of these should be a public figure they do not trust at all, another should be a friend or a family member, and the third one should be a person from school.
  • Have the students identify what makes them distrust one or more of the selected people. Have them make a list of these factors on a piece of paper.
  • Use a strategy to pair students. Ask the students to share the trust factors they had identified in the first thought experiment. Ask them also to discuss the distrust factors.

Part 2

  • Form a team of three to five students
  • Distribute a sheet of chart paper and a marker to each team. Instruct the team members to share their ideas and to prepare a two–column poster with a list of dos and don’ts for increasing trust level.

Part 3

  • Have the teams attach their posters to the wall and invite students to review the posters from the other teams to discover common items and unique ones.

Process and Reflection:

  • Which trust factor appeared in most of the posters?
  • Which trust factor is unique to a single poster?
  • Was there a difference between what was said about a public figure, friend, or someone from our school?
  • What are the benefits of being trustworthy?
  • What is negative about someone who cannot be trusted?
  • Were there common themes when discussing the don’ts of trustworthiness?
  • Which trust factor is most frequently neglected in our school?
  • Which factor can produce the most increase in the trust level for students?
  • What would you like to see more of related to trust from other students? From teachers?
  • What would you like to see less of?

The opportunity of a Lifetime or a Wise Choice?
Imagine you’re a parent of twin 11–year–old boys attending a community hockey game. The game is a fundraiser for a hockey association in which your sons participate. Before the game, you agree to buy raffle tickets for your sons. The winner will be drawn at halftime, and that person will get the chance to take a nearly impossible shot – from the center–ice to a tiny opening barely bigger than the puck itself, 89 feet away. If the raffle winner makes it, he’ll take home $50,000.

Halftime comes, and one of your sons’ names is drawn! Unfortunately, he’s outside the stadium with some friends. You decide to send your other son out in his place. “No harm in that,” you figure since the shot is basically impossible anyway. “Just let the kid have some fun.” Then, the impossible happens. He makes the shot! Your family has won $50,000. The only problem was that Nate hadn’t won the raffle. The name on the winning ticket belonged to his identical twin brother, Nick.

You are truly troubled about what has transpired. You know it’s up to you either to accept the money or teach your kids a lesson in ethics. What do you do?

The parent decides to make a very difficult phone call to the organizer of the event and come clean. The game organizers thank the parent for being honest and said they’d have to report the situation to the insurance company responsible for paying winners. After investigating the situation, the insurance company decides they would not award the prize money because they didn’t want to set a precedent that would come back to haunt them legally. But, they would donate $20,000 to the hockey program in the town where the boys live.

“Being honest and truthful, it turns out good in the end,” said the boys’ mother. “That’s all you can hope is that my sons have seen that we really do need to tell the truth.”

  • What do you think? Was this lesson on the meaning of trustworthiness worth $50,000?
  • What would you do? Why would you make this choice?

The Make-Up Test
Chad and his three friends were college seniors and doing well in their classes. Even though the final physics exam was on Monday, Chad persuaded his buddies to take a weekend trip several hundred miles away. He told his worried friends they could study in the car when they got back Sunday night. Instead, the boys partied all weekend. By Sunday night, they weren’t ready for the exam.

Chad, an A student, told them to relax. He had a plan. He called the professor at home Monday morning and told him they were on the road and ready to take the final, but they’d had a flat tire. They didn’t have a spare and couldn’t get help. Chad persuaded the professor to let them take a make–up exam the following day.

When they showed up, the professor placed them in separate rooms and handed each a test booklet. They were relieved that the first problem, worth 5 points, was simple. They were less pleased when they read the second problem, worth 95 points: “Which tire was flat, and what time did the repair truck come?”

Chad’s exam had an additional note: “Chad, I just received a reference request for you from Harvard. How you do on this exam will determine how I fill it out.” Then he added a P.S.: “You took two exams today. One was on physics. The other was on integrity. It would have been much better if you only flunked physics.”

All choices have consequences. Chad and his friends took a risk by not studying, but they took a greater one when they made up a phony excuse.