14 Caring Gifts from the Heart
December 3, 2017
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Becoming an Altruist through education by Teach Peace Now

~ Giving More Than One Can Bear ~

What is an Altruist?

Being an altruist is when we give of ourselves to someone even though it may require us to sacrifice more than we can afford, perhaps in some situations, even our lives.

According to Kristen Renwick Monroe, people who display altruistic behaviors see themselves as bound to all humanity. Instead of seeing someone as a stranger, the altruist sees a fellow human being worthy of respect and sacrifice.

There are many ways to be altruistic. But all of them involve making a sacrifice, either big or small. Examples of altruistic behavior include:

What makes an Altruist?

In her research on altruism, Renwick found that people who are bystanders and don't give help when needed have weak personal self-images. They tend see themselves as victims and as members of victimized groups. They view strangers and people who are different as enemies to be ignored or feared or hated.

The altruistic hero, on the other hand, sees him or herself as someone capable of taking action. They are compassionate and confident and see similarities among people, not differences. they dive in to help with no thought of themselves, only of the other person.

Can Being an Altruist be Taught?

Being a teacher provides ample opportunity for altruistic behavior. Altruism, for example, is shown when caring teachers stay late after school to help students, and when they use their own money to buy supplies for the poorer students in their classes. In fact, just deciding to become a teacher and not pursue a career in a more lucrative profession, can be seen as an example of altruistic behavior.

Norma H. Mateer in her dissertation Altruism in Teachers (Penn State 1993) identifies three altruistic characteristics of teachers. These three behaviors are also ones we can teach our children and students.

  1. Empathy: Perceiving the needs of another person
  2. Activism: Being motivated by empathy to take action to address the need.
  3. Self-sacrifice: Addressing the need without an expected reward.

Resources for Teaching Altruist Behaviors

Developing an altruist by Teach Peace Now

             Giving one's time to others is the start of being an altruist

Teach Peace Now has extensive resources on developing compassion & empathy. 

A rich curriculum based on altruistic behaviors can be found at Learning to Give.

Project Giving Kids provides places and ways that children and students can make a difference through giving.

365give.com has gathered an extensive list of ways children and students of all ages can make giving a daily part of their lives.

Why We Need Altruists

Altruists are the heroes and heroines of our society. These are the people who spare no effort to help those in need or danger. These are people who make a difference in the lives of others. They are our firemen, policemen, EMTs, nurses, teachers, and so many more.

Developing altruistic behaviors in our students, is essential in maintaining a just and compassionate world. How are you contributing?

Are you an altruist?

We welcome your thoughts and comments




Teach Peace Now
Teach Peace Now

We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.

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