Reflection on the Long Term

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to reflect on the value of focusing on long-term impact. Students reflect on the importance of not getting discouraged when their actions don't seem to make a difference in the short term.

PrintOne 20-minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • reflect in writing on the importance of perseverance and doing personal best in order to make a difference in the long term.

student journals


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Read the following quote by Charles F. Kettering: "Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down." Tell the students that Charles Kettering was an inventor with over 300 patents. He had poor eyesight that set him back several times, but he never let that be a barrier to him. He always pursued his personal best and accomplished great things through perseverance [not giving up]. Ask the students what Mr. Kettering's quote tells them about working on big issues like hunger and global warming? Discuss.

  2. Read the following or have a student read it to the class:

    • T.S. Eliot wrote, “For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.” Scholars of T.S. Eliot’s work interpret this to mean that while we may not be sure our actions will have any positive effect, it does not give us license to do nothing. We should avoid assessing our actions in terms of immediate or short-term outcomes. To do so only invites frustration, burnout, and the hollow feeling that we may have not made a difference. While the immediate results of any action and how others might respond to it are important, it is more often the long-term results that should be the judge of the things we try to do to make difference.
  3. Discuss the relevance T.S. Eliot’s quote or Kettering's quote has for the students as they consider doing their personal best to address a need in the long term. Is taking the “long look” an easy thing to do when one is trying to make a difference?

  4. Tell the students that a famous advertiser encouraged viewers to “Just Do It.” Ask them the following questions: In what ways are Kettering's and T.S. Eliot’s quotes and the “Just Do It” commercial alike? Different? What should we discuss with our peers to remind ourselves that doing nothing is not a good choice?

  5. Have the students write in their character education journals to reflect on the importance of perseverance and doing personal best in order to make a difference in the long term.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss the function of family traditions and role modeling in teaching about sharing and giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Give examples of <i>opportunity cost</i> related to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      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.