American Portraits

Steve Jobs’ Diligence

In this lesson, students will learn about Steve Jobs’ diligence in his life. They will also learn how to be diligent in their own lives.

Founding Principles

Individual Responsibility image

Individual Responsibility

Individuals must take care of themselves and their families and be vigilant to preserve their liberty.


When Steve Jobs was born, his maternal grandfather refused to allow his parents to marry. His parents met while in graduate school, and Steve’s mother decided to travel to San Francisco to give birth and give her son up for adoption. His biological mother made his adoptive parents promise to send him to college. Steve grew up with Paul and Clara Jobs in Palo Alto, California. After high school graduation, Jobs moved to Oregon to attend Reed College. The expensive college put a strain on his parents and he was not fully invested in attending college, so Jobs dropped out after one semester. However, his lack of a higher education did not affect his decision to make something of himself….

Narrative PDF

Compelling Question

How can your diligence help you to be successful?

Virtue Defined

Diligence is intrinsic energy for completing good work.

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will learn about Steve Jobs’ diligence in his life. They will also learn how to be diligent in their own lives.


  • Students will analyze Steve Jobs’ diligence throughout his life.
  • Students will apply their knowledge of diligence to their own lives.


Steve Jobs was born in 1955. Jobs worked for video game company Atari, Inc. before starting Apple, Inc. with friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. Jobs and Wozniak worked together for many years to sell personal computers. Sales of the Macintosh desktop computer slumped, however, and Jobs was ousted from his position at Apple. Despite this failure, Jobs would continue to strive for success in the technology sector. His diligence helped him in developing many of the electronic devices that we use in our everyday life.


  • Atari
  • Apple
  • NeXT
  • Pancreatic
  • Maternal
  • Biological
  • Tinkered
  • Sojourn
  • Endeavor
  • Contention
  • Macintosh
  • Pixar
  • Revolutionized

Introduce Text

Have students read the background and narrative, keeping the Compelling Question in mind as they read. Then have them answer the remaining questions below.

For more robust lesson treatment, check out our partners at the Character Formation Project

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Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • Who was Steve Jobs?
  • What was Steve Jobs’ purpose?
  • What diligent actions did Steve Jobs take in his life?
  • How did Steve Jobs help to promote freedom?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • How and why did the individual exhibit a moral and/or civic virtue in facing and overcoming the challenge?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • Would you react the same under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?

Additional Resources


Lesson Image: © Matthew Yohe / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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