Students Pursue the Quest for the Knightly Virtues
Chivalry-Based Student Projects
If you are a teacher, perhaps you are looking for a class-project idea that brings together a variety of lessons in a multi-discipline learning experience for your students.
If you are a student, maybe you’re looking for a project idea that will allow you to take a fresh look at favorite subject.
In either case, the Code of Chivalry may provide some answers. Below you’ll find a selection of class projects based on the principles of chivalry and the Seven Knightly Virtues. Each of these projects has the benefit of combining the lessons of history/social studies, English literature and character development. In addition, these lessons can incorporate a variety of educational elements, including expositional writing, on-line researching, public speaking, and graphic design.
We hope you (or your students) find these project suggestions helpful, and we hope you will contact us with descriptions and pictures of the final products. We enjoy sharing pictures of students discovering chivalry on our website.
Plus: Schedule Scott Farrell’s presentation on Chivalry Today as part of your academic section on medieval history or Arthurian literature.
A Motto for Every Student– Saying a lot with just a few words is a challenging task. Students can create their own knightly mottos by researching actual historical mottos (part of every family crest and coat-of-arms) and then composing their own mottos of chivalry. Mottos should be 10 words or less, and should make a unique statement about the student’s interpretation of the Code of Chivalry. Mottos should be accompanied by an explanation (written or verbal) as to why these particular words were chosen. Extra credit should be given if the motto is translated into the student’s own language of ethnic origin (including French, German, Spanish or even Middle English).
“Who Is Your “Knight in Shining Armor?” – The ideals of chivalry live on in the real world — writing about those ideals can help students understand and internalize the principles of the Code of Chivalry. Students can write 1,000-word essays about the person who is their “knight in shining armor,” a parent, teacher, coach or friend. These essays should be well written (including clear, expository writing and consistent character development) and they should reveal an understanding of one (or more) of the Seven Knightly Virtues. (As a bonus, students can submit their essays to Chivalry Today for consideration for inclusion in our Portraits in Chivalry section.)
“Knightly Heroes Essay” – From Batman to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Harry Potter, the characters in children’s movies, television shows, video games and books embody the knightly virtues on many levels. Students can demonstrate their understanding of the ideals of chivalry by composing a character study of their favorite character as seen through the Seven Knightly Virutes. The essay should describe what the chosen character does throughout the course of the movie/story that indicates how he or she demonstrates one or more of these virtues. The essay should describe the sacrifices the character makes in order to remain true to these ideals, and how the knightly virtues are central to the conflict of the storyline.
Resources that may be helpful:
- What Are the Seven Knightly Virtues?
- Chivalry in Myth
- Six Heroic Archetypes
- Women’s Role in Chivalry
- Crisis vs. Conflict: How to recognize these elements in a story
“Make Your Own Coat of Arms” – Heraldry was an important part of the Code of Chivalry. A knight’s coat-of-arms (the image displayed on the front of his shield) was a visual representation of the code of honor he followed. For every knight, this image was a little different. Students can use an escucheon (a blank shield-shaped background made of paper, cardboard or wood) to create their own coat-of-arms using elements that define chivalry in their own minds. These coats-of-arms can include dragons, swords and towers, or they can depict fire engines, skateboards and ponies. These coats-of-arms should include an explaination (written or verbal) as to why they represent the student’s version of chivalry, and a description of the importance of heraldry for medieval knights (why did knights need unique designs on their shields?).
Several of the following links will provide helpful downloadable resources, such as shield templates and images.
Resources that may be helpful:
- Create your own coat of arms (Heraldry 4 Kids)
- The history of heraldry (Fleur-de-lis Designs)
- How to make a coat of arms (Owl & Mouse software)
- The rules of heraldry (The Gander Academy)
- Elements of a coat of arms (The Noble Order of Chivalry)
“Sports Knights” – Knights were not just powerful warriors and capable estate managers — many were also skilled athletes. Knights enjoyed many sporting activities, including the one we most often associate with them: the sport of jousting. Students can write a report on the “sporting life of knights” by researching the different types of sports that existed during the Middle Ages, and explaining why certain sports were considered noble and worthy pastimes for members of the “noble class.” The report should contain details of the rules and customs of medieval sporting events. Additionally, the report should explain how the principles of chivalry were put to use by knights in medieval sports — and how chivalry influences our sense of “fair play” and sportsmanship in modern games and athletic events.
Resources that may be helpful:
- Origins and functions of falconry in medieval England (Link no longer available)
- Forest of Dean Falconry Center (Link no longer available)
- National Jousting Association
- International Jousting Association
- Longbow archery and target shooting
- Wrestling in medieval England
- Armored wrestling: A brief overview (link no longer available)
- The history of the game of chess
- The athlete’s Code of Chivalry
Scott Farrell is available for presentations and lectures regarding medieval history and Chivalry Today at schools in the Southern California region. To request this program for your school, write to SAFarrell@ChivalryToday.com.
An extended video version of Scott Farrell’s seminar Chivalry Today for Students will be available to educators in the near future. Contact us for more details on how you can integrate this video into your lesson plan.
Thank you for sharing Chivalry Today with your students!