"Children are eager to help with all sorts of troubles. And what's more, they seem to enjoy it!" This remarkable statement from The Human Sparks series on PBS, highlights how humans are naturally altruistic. They get great pleasure out of accomplishing tasks for others.
In the Montessori classroom, we help to nurture altruism by creating an environment that belongs to the children. The children learn to put their work away on the shelves, roll up their rugs, and push in their chairs not because the teacher tells them to but because it is helpful to their friends. With multi-age classrooms, children are given many opportunities to help each other as well. Older children can give lessons to younger children, help them put on their coat, and work together with them on tasks. It is the work of the children to take care of and respect the environment, themselves, and others - and they derive great joy in doing so!
If you would like to watch the segment of The Human Spark that shares some examples of the studies from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, take a look at the clip below.