Close Reading of the Golden Rule
Background information about Mr. Rockwell’s illustration, Golden Rule, will be shared with the students. Following that, students will closely examine Mr. Rockwell’s illustration, Golden Rule. They will share details regarding the people, the objects as well as use of colors and lighting. They will make supported inferences about the message conveyed within the context of the painting and how he accomplishes it.
Enduring Understandings/ Essential Questions:
- There are virtues: honesty, mutual respect, cooperation, etc. which should be reflected in all interactions with others.
- Equality, freedom, liberty, and respect for others are principles that we should should all show each.
- People may have different ideas about the same topic. Everyone has the right to have their ideas heard.
- Ongoing growth in transportation and communication technology have brought about greater diffusion of ideas and cultural practices among the world’s citizens.
- Different regions of the world have greater concentrations of specific cultures.
- How should people treat others in their community?
- Why may people have different ideas about the same thing?
- Should people who have ideas that are different from the majority be allowed to share their ideas?
- How do changes in transportation and communication technology affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices?
- What influences the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices in different regions?
- Four Freedoms
- This activity will take one 30-45 minute period.
- Social Studies; Language Arts:Reading; Language Arts: Speaking and Listening
- Virtues; Principles; Freedom; Liberty; Respect; Rights; Equality; Honesty; Cooperation; Perspective; United Nations
- Students will close read the illustration, Golden Rule, by Norman Rockwell, sharing the things that they notice about the painting.
- Students will make inferences supported by the details in the illustration.
Norman Rockwell is a storyteller. He painted pictures that were seen on the cover of a magazine called The Saturday Evening Post for 47 years. His paintings, also referred to as illustrations, reflected life in America. They also served to draw attention to ideas that Rockwell felt were important, and that he wanted people to think about.
In preparing to paint this 1961 Saturday Evening Post cover, Rockwell noted that many countries, cultures, and religions incorporate some version of The Golden Rule into their belief system. “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You” was a simple but universal phrase that reflected the artist’s personal philosophy. A gathering of people from different cultures, religions, and ethnicities, this image was a precursor of the socially conscious subjects that he would illustrate in the 1960s and 1970s.
“One day I suddenly got the idea that the Golden Rule, “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You,” was the subject I was looking for,” Rockwell said. “I began to make all sorts of sketches. Then I remembered that down in the cellar of my studio was the charcoal drawing of my United Nations picture, which I had never finished.” “In it I had tried to depict all the peoples of the world gathered together. That is just what I wanted to express about the Golden Rule.” Rockwell’s Golden Rule painting later served as the inspiration for the stunning glass mosaic that was presented to the United Nations in 1985 as a Fortieth Anniversary gift on behalf of the United States by then First Lady Nancy Reagan, made possible by the Thanks-Giving Square Foundation.
In 2015, the United Nations celebrated their Seventieth Anniversary. A special installation
was created which brought together Rockwell's original drawing, his Golden Rule painting, and other works that reflected his appreciation for humanity as a citizen of the world.
Things to Notice About Norman Rockwell’s Golden Rule
- Mothers of different cultures holding their children
- Mary Rockwell, Norman Rockwell’s wife and the mother of their three sons, holding their first grandchild, Geoffrey Rockwell. Mary had died before Geoffrey was born, but Rockwell brought them together in this work.
- Clothing and objects representing different cultures
Background on Norman Rockwell’s United Nations
In 1952, at the height of the Cold War and two years into the Korean War, Rockwell conceived an image of the United Nations as the world’s hope for the future. His appreciation for the organization and its mission inspired a complex work portraying members of the Security Council and sixty-five people representing the nations of the world—a study for an artwork that he originally intended to complete in painted form. United Nations never actually made it to canvas, but Rockwell’s desire to reach out to a global community found its forum on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in Golden Rule nine years later, in 1961. Pictured here are Security Council Members, Soviet Ambassador Valerian Alexandrovich Zorin, British Ambassador Sir Gladwyn Jebb, and United States Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge.
Of his work on the United Nations drawing, Rockwell said, “Like everyone else, I’m concerned with the world situation, and like everyone else, I’d like to contribute something to help. The only way I can contribute is through my pictures.”
United Nations 1953
Study for an unfinished illustration
Pencil and charcoal on paper
Norman Rockwell Museum Collection
- Chart paper with T-Chart labeled “What I See”/”What I think” (can infer)
- Optional student copy of T-chart
- The Golden Rule As Expressed by Cultures Around the World by Sandra & Harold Darling (Optional)
- Display the illustration of the “Golden Rule”.
- Ask students to look carefully at the illustration. Give them a few minutes to do this.
- Turn and Talk: When you feel enough time has passed, have students turn to a person sitting beside them. Ask them to share with each other some of the things they notice in the illustration. As they are sharing, listen in to their conversations.
- Have partners share out some of the things they noticed in the picture. Record their responses on chart paper. (Elicit noticings heard during partner talk that are not shared or share them for the students)
- Turn and Talk: When everyone has opportunity to share, have students turn to face their partners again. Tell them to talk to their partner about what they are thinking based on the details they noticed.
- Have partners share their thinking. Record responses on the T-chart. Elicit details from the picture to support their thinking.
- New observations may be contributed as they look closer and are thinking about the details. Add them to the appropriate column on T-Chart.
- If you have not already done so, share the origin of the painting and its name. Have students reflect on the purpose and message that Mr. Rockwell would want them to understand and what the message means to them. What is the significance of this illustration in today’s ever changing world?
- You may wish to share examples of the wording of the Golden Rule from other cultures. The booklet listed in materials contains an assortment of wordings from other cultures and notable people. Students could select a favorite form to create a placard.
Optional: If students have had guided opportunities to close read other illustrations, they may work independently or with a partner to complete the included t-chart graphic organizer. They can refer to their recorded observations and inferences when everyone gathers to share and discuss the illustration.
- Did everyone participate?
- Are students basing their thinking on the details?
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
- Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
- Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 6 Language standards 1 and 3 [link to="CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6">here[/link] for specific expectations.)
- Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
- Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 7 Language standards 1 and 3 [link to="CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7"]here[/link] for specific expectations.)
- Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
- Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and relevance and sufficiency of the evidence and identifying when irrelevant evidence is introduced.
- Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 8 Language standards 1 and 3 [link to="CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8"]here[/link] for specific expectations.)
- Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
- Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium's portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
- Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
- Explain how the relationship between supporting questions and compelling questions is mutually reinforcing.
- Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration the different opinions people have about how to answer the question.
- Apply civic virtues and democratic principles in school and community settings.
- Analyze ideas and principles contained in the founding documents of the United States, and explain how they influence the social and political sysrem.
- Compare deliberative processes used in a wide variety of groups in various settings.
- Analyze the ways in which cultural and environmental characteristics vary among various regions of the world.
- Explain how changes in transportation and communication technology influence the spatial connections among human settlements and affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices.
- Evaluate the credibility of a source by determining its relevance and intended use.
- Construct an argument using claims and evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging the strengths and limitations of the argument.
- Construct explanations using reasoning, correct sequence, examples, and details with relevant information and data, while acknowledging the strengths, and weaknesses of explanations.
- Critique arguments for credibility.
- Critique the structure of explanations.