Close Reading of the Golden Rule
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. Background information about Mr. Rockwell’s illustration, Golden Rule, will be shared with the students. Students will reflect on the significance of this illustration in today’s changing world.
This activity will take one class period of 30-40 minutes.
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 40 minute class period.
- Social Studies; Language Arts: Reading; Language Arts: Literacy in History and Science; 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 ethnicity, 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
- 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?
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?
- Do student responses to the illustration reflect civic virtues/ principles?
- Do students responses reflect relevant thinking about the significance of the illustration in today’s world?
- Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)
- Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
- Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
- Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.
- Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 11-12 Language standards 1 and 3 [link to="CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12"]here[/link] for specific expectations.)
- Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
- Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, identifying any fallacious reasoning or exaggerated or distorted evidence.
- Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 9-10 Language standards 1 and 3 [link to="CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10"]here[/link] for specific expectations.)
- Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
- Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
- Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
- Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
- Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
- Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
- Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person's life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
- Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.
- Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources.
- Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
- Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
- Apply civic virtues and democratic principles when working with others.
- Evaluate social and political systems in different contexts, times, and places, that promote civic virtues and enact democratic principles.
- Use appropriate deliberative processes in multiple settings.
- Analyze the reciprocal nature of how historical events and the spatial diffusion of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices have influenced migration patterns and the distribution of human population.
- Evaluate the credibility of a source by examining how experts value the source.
- Construct an argument using precise and knowledgeable claims and evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging counterclaims and evidentiary weaknesses.
- Construct explanations using sound reasoning, correct sequence (linear and non-linear), examples and details with significant and pertinent information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanation given its purpose (e.g., cause and effect, chronological, procedural, technical).
- Critique the use of claims and evidence in arguments for credibility.
- Critique the use of the reasoning, sequencing, and supporting details of explanations.