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Evolving Worldview

To what extent has the Renaissance worldview shaped your personal worldview?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students investigate the Renaissance worldview as represented in the arts, science, religion, politics, exploration and philosophy to determine the extent to which these influences have shaped their personal worldviews.

Explore personal worldviews
Invite students to conduct a five-minute "quick write" (a written brainstorm) to record their impressions on key elements of a personal worldview; e.g., view of human nature, view of the good life, relationship of humans with nature.

See Concept of Worldview (Background Information) for an explanation of key elements.

Because there is a possibility that some students may be uncomfortable with one or more of the topics, give them permission to omit one or more of the elements.
Encourage students to speculate on the influences that gave rise to their views; e.g., personal experiences, spirituality, religion, parents, media, peers.

You may want to use a chart, such as the following:

Worldview Elements and Influences

Elements of a Worldview

Major Beliefs about Each Element

Influences That Encouraged These Beliefs

View of human nature



View of the good life



Equality with others



Responsibilities to others



Relationship between the individual and the state



Relationship of humans with nature



Sources of ethical wisdom



Compare personal worldviews
Ask students to share with a partner their personal worldviews by responding to these questions:

  • What are your beliefs about each element of your worldview?
  • What influences shaped your beliefs about each element?

Use the responses to illustrate the similarities and differences among students’ worldviews and among the influences that shaped their worldviews.

Explore the Renaissance worldview
Assign students to work in small groups to research the major beliefs of people during the Renaissance in one of the following fields:

  • art
  • literature
  • science
  • religion
  • politics
  • exploration
  • philosophy.

  • To meet diverse learning needs, provide information about each field.

    Direct students to look for evidence to support conclusions about the views of Renaissance people on the following worldview elements:

    • view of human nature
    • view of the good life
    • equality with others
    • responsibilities to others
    • relationship between the individual and the state
    • relationship of humans with nature
    • sources of ethical wisdom.

    Examine conclusions on the Renaissance worldview
    Invite students to examine key beliefs of Renaissance people for each of these elements and to look for clues as to the sources of these beliefs. You may wish to have students record these on a chart similar to the example below.

    The following example on philosophy illustrates the relationship between major beliefs and influences that shape these beliefs.

    Renaissance Philosophy

    Elements of a Worldview

    Major Beliefs about Each Element

    Influences That Encouraged These Beliefs

    View of human nature

    humans are beautiful (important)

    ancient Greeks/Romans

    View the good life

    improve your station (status)

    Romans, commerce

    Equality with others

    governed by personal initiative and status

    commerce (sponsorship by patrons)

    Responsibilities to others

    human beings are in command of their destiny

    ancient Greeks/Romans or philosophers of the era (e.g., Plato; Saint Thomas More

    Relationship between the individual and the state

    government has an obligation to the people

    ancient Greeks/Romans, (e.g., Plato; Saint Thomas More)

    Relationship of humans with nature

    human beings have dominion over nature

    Romans, Catholic church

    Sources of ethical wisdom

    God and the Church

    Catholic church

    Use a graphic organizer to compare worldviews then and now
    After students have completed their research, direct them to use a graphic organizer, such as a Venn diagram, to compare similarities and differences between their own worldview and the major beliefs of their assigned Renaissance field.

    With the class, review the criteria for an effective comparison, such as:

    • degree of difference
    • supported by evidence
    • clearly stated.

    Determine extent to which the Renaissance ideas shaped personal worldviews
    Finally, ask students to determine the extent to which Renaissance ideas have shaped their own worldviews by completing these sentence stems:

    When I think of these two worldviews …

    they are nearly the same
    (the features are only slightly different)

    there are some differences
    (most features are different, but not that different)

    they are very different
    (most features are very different)

    I think this because _______________________________________________________.

    You may want to adapt the charts and strategies in Comparing Differences (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

    Extension: Create a Renaissance icon or logo
    Invite students to create, individually, an icon or a logo to represent the worldview of one of the following groups of people: artists, scientists, religious leaders, politicians, explorers or philosophers. Following the presentations of the icons or logos, determine, as a class, the common and unique features of the worldviews of these groups.

    Extension: Comparing historical worldviews
    Invite students to use the strategies discussed in this lesson to identify and compare the worldviews of other historical groups in the time period covered by the Grade 8 program of studies. Students may want to compare worldviews of Europeans, Japanese and Aztecs.

    Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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