Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in the text The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, which asks whether you would be comfortable living in a utopia if all the world’s burdens were placed on a single child, and reflect on its impact on their personal understanding of the world.

In this lesson, students read and reflect on the text. 

Subjects: English, Ethical Understanding.

Year Level: Years 7, 8, 9, 10.

Topics: Ethics, morals, literature, creative writing, critical thinking, worldview.

Teaching Time: 60 minutes. 

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work Ethics through Literature – The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.

21st-century skills: 

Critical ThinkingEmpathyEthical UnderstandingGlobal CitizenshipProblem Finding          

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Year 7

Content descriptions: 

Year 7 English:

  • Identify and explore ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1619)
  • Discuss aspects of texts, for example their aesthetic and social value, using relevant and appropriate metalanguage (ACELT1803)
  • Use comprehension strategies to interpret, analyse and synthesise ideas and information, critiquing ideas and issues from a variety of textual sources (ACELY1723)

Syllabus outcomes: EN4-8D, EN4-5C, EN4-2A, EN4-4B

Relevant parts of Year 7 English achievement standards: Students demonstrate understanding of how the choice of language features, images and vocabulary affects meaning. Students explain issues and ideas from a variety of sources, analysing supporting evidence and implied meaning. They select specific details from texts to develop their own response, recognising that texts reflect different viewpoints. They listen for and explain different perspectives in texts. Students create structured and coherent texts for a range of purposes and audiences. When creating and editing texts they demonstrate understanding of grammar, use a variety of more specialised vocabulary and accurate spelling and punctuation.

Year 8

Content descriptions: 

Year 8 English:

  • Explore the ways that ideas and viewpoints in literary texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts may reflect or challenge the values of individuals and groups (ACELT1626)
  • Recognise and explain differing viewpoints about the world, cultures, individual people and concerns represented in texts (ACELT1807)

Syllabus outcomes: EN4-8D, EN4-4B

Relevant parts of Year 8 English achievement standards: Students explain how language features, images and vocabulary are used to represent different ideas and issues in texts. Students interpret texts. They select evidence from the text to show how events, situations and people can be represented from different viewpoints. Students create texts for different purposes, selecting language to influence audience response. When creating and editing texts to create specific effects, they take into account intended purposes and the needs and interests of audiences.

Year 9

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English:

  • Present an argument about a literary text based on initial impressions and subsequent analysis of the whole text (ACELT1771)
  • Explore and reflect on personal understanding of the world and significant human experience gained from interpreting various representations of life matters in texts (ACELT1635)
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-1A, EN5-7D, EN5-2A, EN5-1A

Relevant parts of Year 9 English achievement standards: Students evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They understand how interpretations can vary by comparing their responses to texts to the responses of others. Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts.

Year 10

Content descriptions: 

Year 10 English:

  • Reflect on, extend, endorse or refute others’ interpretations of and responses to literature (ACELT1640)
  • Evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in texts (ACELT1812)
  • Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-5C, EN5-7D, EN5-5C, EN5-1A

Relevant parts of Year 10 English achievement standards: Students develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. Students create a wide range of texts to articulate complex ideas. 

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding.

Level of teacher scaffolding: High – Facilitate discussions, guide and challenge student thinking, support students emotionally.

Resources required:

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... evaluate the social, moral and ethical positions represented in the text The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, and reflect on its impact on their personal understanding of the world.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... read and discuss the text The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin.

Teacher content information: Talking about the sensitive issues involved in this lesson may evoke strong emotions and opinions, or raise challenging questions about values and beliefs that have no easy answers. When talking about sensitive topics, it is important to create a safe and positive classroom environment that encourages participation and cooperation.

We've created a guide on handling sensitive topics to help you navigate your class through these issues.

You might also be interested in taking our PD Course on how to bring a hopeful and optimistic approach to challenging topics in the clas

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