Week 6: What is Selfish? Day 1

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Week 6: What is Selfish?

Day 1

Time: 1 hour

Objective: SWBAT analyze different definitions of selfish.

Materials: 4-5 children’s books on being selfish.

A Children's Book About BEING SELFISH (Hardcover) by Joy Wilt Berry, The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, Selfish Sophie by Damian Kelleher and Georgie Birket, The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
Introduction (20 minutes)

Divide students into groups. Allow each group to choose a leader, and each leader to choose a book. The groups should read the stories aloud and decide…

  1. What does each book define as selfish?

  2. What lesson do characters in the book learn about being selfish?

  3. Why should children learn about being selfish?

Discussion (20 minutes)

Ask each group to share a brief summary of their book and their reflections on the questions. Discuss what is different about each book. Come up with a class definition of selfish and reasons why it can be a negative thing.

New Scenario (15 minutes).

Ask students if it is ever ok to be selfish, or even a good thing to be selfish. Also, what would Socrates say?

Whole-class share and discuss.

Choose a Big Question from the Class Poster to discuss.

Day 2

Time: 1 hour

SWBAT: explain the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Materials: Poster explaining Prisoner’s Choices.

Intro (25 minutes)

Ask for two student volunteers to sit in two chairs at the front of the group. Explain the scene:

Last night, (Student 1) and (Student 2) were very bored. Eventually, they decided to go to school and steal every book in the library so that they would never be bored again. It took them a long time, but using their super human strength, (Student 1) and (Student 2) managed to steal every last book and zoom away on their bikes. The next morning, the school called the police. The police investigated, and they found no proof—no fingerprints, no video surveillance, no clues. They heard rumors, though, that (Student 1) and (Student 2) were the biggest readers in the school. “We have no evidence,” the police said, “but we’ll bring these two kids in and see what we can discover.” So here, we see (Student 1) and (Student 2) in their separate interrogation rooms. No matter what happens, these two can’t talk to each other or communicate in any way. The police give them both the same deal. (Refer to poster)

  1. If you confess and your partner doesn’t, you will go free and your partner will get ten years in prison.

  2. If you remain silent but your partner confesses, then you will get ten years in prison and he will go free.

  3. If you both remain silent, then you will both go to prison for three months.

  4. If you both confess, then you will both go to prison for five years.

Partner confesses.

Partner stays silent.

You confess.

5 years

Go free.

You stay silent.

10 years in prison.

Three months.

What should you do? Pair and share.

Class discussion. Which should they choose, and why? What is the just choice? What is the choice that works best for both people?

(Bottom line: It is in your individual interest to confess. However, if both people choose what’s best for themselves, it will result in a worse situation than if both consider the other person. How does this relate to selfishness? How does this relate to justice?)
Personal Connection (15 minutes)

Can you think of a time when you thought about others before yourself? What were the benefits of that choice? If you can’t think of a particular time, invent a story where it’s better to think of others before yourself. Whole-class share.

Real World Connection (15 minutes)

Brainstorm: Are people in the world today selfish? Can you think of examples of humans acting selfishly and non-selfishly? Also, what would Socrates say?


Choose a Big Question from the Class Poster to discuss.

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