Testimony of Simplicity 12/28/07 to 2/24/08



Our open meeting time allowed me to finish up the lesson plans for the next, and last, two weeks of the Simplicity unit.  We'll be talking about the ideas of Plain Speech and Plain Dress.  There's a chance it might take three Sundays to finish the book, since students will be doing a lot of discussion in addition to reading.  Obviously, that would be great, so that's an issue where we'll need to play it by ear.  If it took three weeks to read the book, the third week could probably have an extension activity where students draw pictures of Hannah and her friends, contrasting her Plain Dress with their "fancy dress."


As I indicated in my e-mail, this plan would mean that Equality starts on March 2.  An extra Sunday to draw pictures and finish the book would lead to an equality start date of March 9.


I have the book "Thee, Hannah!," which I borrowed from LuAnn.  Brynnen, if you let me know who is teaching next week, I will get the book to them.   The plans are attached in Word 2003 format, and also are pasted into this e-mail. 




 Introduce the idea of “Plain Speech.”

Early Quakers adopted the idea of “Plain Speech” as part of the testimony of simplicity. 

(1)   One of the ideas was that we should speak truthfully, without using fancy words to cover up what we really mean. 

You might compare the words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew, where he asks followers to “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’”

Brainstorm examples of how people use language to hide what they really mean.  You can connect this idea with the testimony of integrity, which also has to do with truth-telling.

(2)   Another part of Plain Speech was speaking comfortably and respectfully to all people.  Two hundred years ago, the custom was to speak formally to people who were powerful, like nobles and judges, and speak down to people who were seen as less important.

Quakers believe that all people are equally important.  Brainstorm: Do people today still speak differently to people who are powerful than they see as less powerful?

Ask students whether they have ever heard anyone use the word “thee” or “thou.”

Explain that 200 years ago, people used the word “thou” instead of “you” when speaking to friends, people in their family, or people who were less important.  It meant that you felt comfortable with that person.

The word “you” used to be used for people who were seen as more important.

That’s why Quakers used the word “thou” instead of you for everyone – because no one is more important than anyone else.

Ask whether students have any questions about Plain Speech.

(3)   Lead into the book, “Thee, Hannah!”  Explain that it’s about a Quaker girl living in Philadelphia 200 years ago. She has to decide what she thinks about “Plain Speech.”

(4)   Discussion Question (optional): Why do you think that Hannah doesn’t like using Plain Speech?  Why does she want to speak like everyone else? 


Review the idea of Plain Speech.

Introduce the idea of Plain Dress.

Quakers believe in dressing comfortably, but not on dressing just to show off or impress people.  Everyone is important and no one should act like they’re better than anyone else.

Quakers also believe that worrying too much about how you look can distract you from more important things, like listening to God, being with your family, or doing the right thing.

Discussion Question:  What do you think?  Do some people worry too much about how they dress?  How do you know if you’re worrying too much about appearances?  When is it okay to think about how you look?

Lead into “Thee, Hannah!” Explain that Hannah doesn’t always like Plain Dress.  Pick up where you left off in the book “Thee, Hannah!” and read aloud.


Discussion questions (optional):  Why does Hannah want to dress like her friends?  Why doesn’t her family believe in dressing like everyone else?  Ask the students what they think Hannah should do.