Caring and Self-Interest

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is for the learners to reflect on how philanthropy, enlightened self-interest, and caring are related and to determine why and how they will "care" in the future. 

PrintOne 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

  • recall or learn the definition of philanthropy and relate it to caring.
  • reflect on a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr .about caring.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Display the definintion of philanthropy as "giving time, talent, and treasure, and taking action for the common good." If the learners have experience with service-learning and being philanthropists, ask them to relate what this definition means to them in light of that service. If philanthropy is a new word to the learners, give them some examples of everyday philanthropists from the local community and ask them to name the time, talent, or treasure they might have to give for the common good as a way of "caring."

  2. Ask the learners to discuss if and how philanthropy might be considered enlightened self-interest [sacrificing time and resources to the benefit of the whole, which, in turn, benefits self].

  3. Display the following quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  4. "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the creative light of altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life's persistent and most urgent question is, What are you doing for others?"

  5. After a brief discussion of the quote, ask the learners to respond to the quote in writing in their journals by answering Dr. Kings' question -- What are you doing for others? -- and writing about how what they are doing could be considered enlightened self-interest.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.