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AGO lesson plan

4. AGO lesson plan

AGO: Aims, Goals, Objectives

This lesson plan is for the AGO lesson workcard.


In some situations, it is more appropriate to speak of aims, in other circumstances of goals, and in yet others of objectives. The main point of the lesson is to introduce and emphasize the idea of purpose. No attempt should be made to bring out the philosophical differences between these since this usually confuses students.

This notion of purpose broadens the perception of a situation. The AGO is a device to get students to focus directly and deliberately on the intention behind actions. What is the actor aiming for? What is trying to be achieved? What does the actor want to bring about? What are the actor's objectives? What are the actor's goals? 

Being able to define objectives helps the student's thinking in such areas as decision, planning, and action of any kind which has a purpose. 

It is enough for the teacher to say that in some cases the word aim is more appropriate and in other cases goals or objectives. If pressed, teachers can make the distinction as follows: 

• aim is the general direction

• goal is an ultimate destination

• objective is a recognizable point of achievement along the way.

Teachers are strongly advised to concentrate on the general idea of "purpose" and not to make the distinction. Without a sense of purpose, all actions are either reactions to a situation or matters of habit or imitation. The intention of the lesson is to focus attention directly on purpose as distinct from reaction.

PRACTICE ITEM 1.  A student is cheating at school. What are the objectives of the headteacher in addressing the situation?

Only 2 minutes are allowed for this practice item and then the teacher asks the groups to give possible objectives. When listening to the responses the teacher should encourage the students to explain the purpose of the objective. Include phrases like “to” or “so that”.


  • to prevent any more cheating

  • to ensure the grades awared to students are fair

  • to ensure students understand why cheating is wrong

  • to understand why the student needed to cheat

  • to show parents that this is an honest school

PRACTICE ITEM 2.  Your family wins $5,000 in a game show - what would your objectives be?

Time allowed is 3 minutes. One group is designated to give its output and then the other groups can add points or comments. The emphasis here should be on trying to condense the different objectives into major categories; for instance: having fun, helping others, saving, investing, buying equipment to make money as with tools, paying for education.

PRACTICE ITEM 3. Everyone has to eat to live. But people have different objectives with regard to food. Do an AGO for the following people: homemaker, cook, store owner, food manufacturer, farmer, government.

Each group is given one of the types to do an AGO for. If there are more than six groups the process is repeated and if there are fewer some types are left out. At the end of 3 minutes one group for each type gives its output and the others can comment or add to it.


  • Homemaker - to buy enough food within it,; budget.

  • Cook-to find the right quality food and variety.

  • Shopkeepers - to satisfy their customers and to make enough money to live on.

  • Manufacturer - to sell as much as possible and make as much profit as possible.

  •  Farmers - to get a proper return for their work and a stable market.

  • Government - to ensure food supplies and keep prices down.


Open discussion with the class as a whole, acting as individuals rather than in groups. 

  • Is it necessary to know your objectives exactly, always?

  • When is it most useful to know the objectives?

  • What happens if you do not have objectives?

  • How important are other people's objectives?

Learning points

The groups look at the list of learning points given in the student workcards. They are asked to pick out the principle they think is most important. The groups can also be asked to criticize any one of the principles or to make up a principle of their own. 

These de Bono Thinking Lessons are free to use by parents, guardians and teachers. (This means on this website, or to print and use in home or in the classroom. Not for further distribution or commercial use). 

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