Confucius Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught history, and has an MA in Islamic law/finance. He has since founded his own financial advice firm, Newton Analytical.

Use these materials to help students better appreciate Confucius and his impact on Chinese history and society. Use an activity to examine Confucian thought.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • describe the role that Confucius played in early Chinese history
  • analyze the impact of Confucian thought on later Chinese dynasties


40 minutes plus 30 minutes for activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Key Terms

  • Mandate of Heaven
  • Confucius
  • Analects


  • To facilitate learning and engage prior knowledge, ask students to discuss whether or not they follow rules because they come from parents and teachers, or if they listen to parents and teachers because they provide rules. This philosophical thought will prepare them for the ideas of Confucianism.
  • Watch the lesson Confucius: Biography & Teachings, pausing at the following points for discussion. Pre-teach key terms, if necessary.
    • 2:49 - Do you think that Confucius would have had a bigger impact on history had he been an administrator rather than a teacher? Why or why not?
    • 4:47 - Do you think that Confucian thought would be easy to practice while stranded on an island alone? Why or why not?
    • 6:21 - Why would it be to the advantage of the ruling classes to make Confucian teaching popular among the masses? Do you think this would help people be better subjects? Also, ask students to contemplate the role of Confucian exams in later dynasties. Why might these have been viewed favorably by the powerful?


Examine Confucian thought by looking at student's relationships.

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