What is Beauty?

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Area: Art
Grade Level: High School & Beyond, Middle School, Primary/Elementary School
Topics: ART & AESTHETICS, Beauty
Estimated Time Necessary: 50-60 minutes

Lesson Plan

Thinking about beauty from different perspectives.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to think together about beauty by contemplating that which they find beautiful that others do not.
Thinking about what is necessary for something to be beautiful.
Students will talk and think about what is necessary for something to be considered beautiful and why.

Part 1:

Present the following challenge to students:

Think of something (e.g., objects, places, people) that you think is truly beautiful, but that at the same time you think others might not notice and/or consider as beautiful. What do you think it is that makes it beautiful?

Take a couple minutes of quiet time for students to write and/or draw their thoughts.

Go around in a circle and have everyone share what they wrote about/drew. If anyone forgets to share why they think their chosen thing is beautiful, gently remind them to before moving to the next person. As students share, write down the “whys” they use to describe the thing on the board, particularly the adjectives they use to describe their chosen thing.

After everyone shares, ask them to think about something another person shared that they also think is beautiful and why, particularly if their reasons for thinking the thing is beautiful are different. After a couple minutes, ask them to share again. As students share, add to “whys” on the board.

Part 2:

Have students look for a pattern in the “whys.” From the list, how might we define “beautiful”?

Sample questions for part 2:

  • Do you think some/all of the “whys” capture what makes something beautiful?
  • Which of the “whys” are necessary for something to be beautiful? Sometimes describe something that is beautiful? Never describe something that is beautiful?
  • Is there anything missing from the list that is necessary or frequently needed for something to be beautiful?

Note: If you meet with a class regularly (e.g., weekly), parts 1 and 2 can be done in separate sessions. If you do that, you can make a list of the “whys” for the second session and use it as a worksheet to prompt the discussion. A sample worksheet is available in the lesson attachment above.

This lesson plan was created for PLATO by: Nic Jones (University of Washington) and Janice Moskalik (Seattle University).

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

If you would like to change or adapt any of PLATO's work for public use, please feel free to contact us for permission at info@plato-philosophy.org.