Existentialism Teacher Resources

Following World War II, many found it difficult to re-establish a sense of faith and trust, found it difficult to find meaning in a world that was clearly absurd. The work of the existential philosophers, writers, and artists of the post-war era reflect this despair and loss of faith in traditional institutions and explanations.

Introduce young thinkers to the great ideas of existential philosophers Soren Kierkegaards, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others with Lesson Planet’s collection of reviewed videos and interactives. Find lesson plans for writers like Franz Kafka, and Henry David Thoreau, writing projects (like this mulit-genre project) articles on Herman Mellville and activities that  provide insight into this philosophical theory.

The teen years are a time of questioning. The resources in our collection encourage students to conduct their own search for meaning, to find their own answers to what it means to be an individual, to be free, and to exist.

Showing 1 - 24 of 94 resources
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Lesson Planet

Philosophy - Sartre

For Students 11th - Higher Ed Standards
What does it mean to be free? Is freedom possible? What are is joy and anguish associated with freedom? A fascinating video details Jean-Paul Sartre's key ideas and insights about freedom.
3:19
Lesson Planet

An Introduction to Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil

For Students 11th - 12th Standards
Is God is dead? Is there no absolute truth? Do different societies have different concepts of good and evil? Introduce the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche with a short video analysis of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.
4:07
Lesson Planet

Nietzsche on: Superman

For Students 9th - Higher Ed Standards
If evolution is not complete, as Friedrich Nietzsche contends in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, then a future breed of human may likely be superior to the humans of today. The characteristics of Nietzsche's Superman, or übermensch, are not what...
13:37
Lesson Planet

Philosophy - Nietzsche

For Students 9th - Higher Ed Standards
Have you built your home on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius? Why not? Friedrich Nietzsche challenges viewers to live a fulfilled and dangerous life, to use the humanities as a guide to life, and to own up to one's envy, as explained in a...
3:38
Lesson Planet

Sartre on: Bad Faith

For Students 9th - Higher Ed Standards
According to existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, individuals engage in bad faith, and they lie to themselves in order to spare themselves from short term pain. A short film explores the problem of mauvaise foi (bad faith),...
Lesson Planet

The Metamorphosis: List-Group-Label Strategy

For Teachers 9th - 12th Standards
Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis is one of the most prominent and influential books to come out of the existential movement. Host a group discussion in which learners list different characteristics of existent art, group these tenets, and...
3:28
Lesson Planet

An Introduction to Friedrich Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality

For Students 9th - 12th Standards
Where does our sense of morality come from? Friedrich Nietsche's On the Genealogy of Morality is the focus of a short explanatory video. Clarifying the difference between the concepts of good and bad based on one's societal framework,...
Lesson Planet

Existentialism and Kafka

For Teachers 10th Standards
Scholars read Kafka's The Metamorphosis and research for essays and articles on existentialism. After gaining information and evidence from their research, pupils write essays defining existentialism and its relationship on the work of...
Lesson Planet

The Age of Confusion

For Teachers 9th - 12th
According to the presentation, the age of confusion was marked by a very specific set of art and philosophical movements. Take a visual trip, and explore expressionism, cubism, Dada, Bauhaus, existentialism, and the new modes of...
Lesson Planet

English Exercises: Subject/Verb Agreement

For Students 3rd - 8th
This exercise is all about practice using the existential (there is) in the singular, plural, interrogative, declarative, positive and negative forms. From a bank of six possibilities learners fill in two blank spaces in each...
10:36
Lesson Planet

War and Human Nature: Crash Course World History 204

For Students 9th - 12th Standards
Is aggression part of human nature? What about warfare? Crash Course World History takes high schoolers through the anthropological perspective of war, as well as the philosophical and biological points of view, and explores whether or...
Lesson Planet

Heaven or Ground Hog Day?

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Learners discover the ideas of enlightenment by reading historical poetry. In this philosophical lesson, students read poems by Sir Walter Scott and Sergeant Joyce Kilmer while discussing the themes of the writing with classmates....
4:06
Lesson Planet

An Introduction to Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling

For Students 11th - 12th Standards
Talk about faith and trust. Imagine Abraham's faith and trust when God directed him to sacrifice his son Isaac. In his Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard uses the Biblical story of Abraham to talk about faith and the seeming conflict...
9:37
Lesson Planet

Philosophy - Albert Camus

For Students 9th - Higher Ed Standards
If life is meaningless, why should we endure? This question is at the heart of The School of Life "Philosophy" episode on Albert Camus. Viewers are introduced to the life, major works, and central ideas of the famous French philosopher.
Lesson Planet

Literature Study Guide: The Stranger

For Students 11th - 12th
As Meursault says, “…you can always find something to be happy about,” and this study guide will make you happy indeed because it will enable you to track the progress of your independent readers or homeschoolers through Albert Camus’s...
EngageNY

Reading Closely for Textual Details: “Life Steps Almost Straight”

For Teachers 12th Standards
Help your class examine humanity's unpredictable nature through "Life Steps Almost Straight." Learners read various works from philosophers such as Viktor Frankl, The Buddha, and Nietzsche to gather textual evidence and explain their...
Lesson Planet

No Exit Study Questions

For Students 10th - Higher Ed
In this online interactive literature worksheet, students respond to 8 short answer and essay questions about Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit. Students may check some of their answers online
Lesson Planet

Genealogy of Morals

For Students 9th - 12th
In this online interactive philosophy quiz instructional activity, students respond to 26 multiple choice questions about Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals. Students may submit their answers to be scored.
Lesson Planet

Beyond Good and Evil

For Students 9th - 12th
For this online interactive philosophy worksheet, students respond to 10 short answer and essay questions about Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche. Students may check some of their answers on the interactive worksheet. 
Lesson Planet

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

For Students 9th - 12th
In this online interactive philosophy worksheet, students respond to 10 short answer and essay questions about Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche. Students may check some of their answers on the interactive worksheet. 
Lesson Planet

The Metamorphosis: Request Strategy

For Teachers 9th - 12th Standards
Round out your unit on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis with a series of reading comprehension questions. As kids read, they challenge each other to answer specific connection questions from the text.
Lesson Planet

Western Civilizations, Chapter 27: The Cold War: Global Politics, Economic Recovery, and Cultural Change

For Students 10th - Higher Ed
Keep your scholars organized using this study plan and progress report tool, one of many great learning strategies featured in this online western civilizations resource! Although designed for use alongside the Western Civilizations...
3:36
Lesson Planet

An Introduction to Soren Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death

For Students 9th - 12th
How can despair be hopeful? Introduce young philosophers to the ideas of Danish Soren Kierkegaard with a video from a philosophy video playlist.
Lesson Planet

What kind of smart are you?

For Students 5th - Higher Ed
In this how smart are you worksheet, students answer the provided questions on a separate piece of paper. Students complete the survey online and answer concluding questions. Students explain their strengths and weaknesses as well as...

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