Culture of Charity: Hand Up or Hand Out?

George Seurat
George Seurat

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese Proverb

Reflective Teacher Blog Prompt: How do you create a culture of charity?

This is a timely question for me since it has been the topic of conversation at home and I work with a population of students with many needs. Children need to understand that charity can come in many forms.

One can stop to listen and empathize with a person in need.

One can offer wisdom to a person without the life experience or guidance to see a solution.

One can do kind deeds for a person in need.

One can offer money to a person in need in person or anonymously.

Any person can be charitable and we need all forms of charity to help those in need feel valued.

I choose to teach in a school with many needs. I know that I cannot save every child from their circumstances. I do know that I can empower them to take charge of their future. I work tirelessly to rid them of a culture of the victim mentality which many of them learn at home. Giving feels good and it feels good to all. We all seek control over our lives.

I build a culture of charity in my classroom by meeting the most basic of human needs: food, safety, and love and belonging. Then my conversations about the importance of charity can be heard and applied so that these children can live a life with dignity. Sometimes a person in need truly needs a hand out to get through a particular day, but there is nothing more gratifying than helping someone come to the realization that choice is more powerful than chance.


One thought on “Culture of Charity: Hand Up or Hand Out?

  1. I love this post. I also teach in school where most students have great lifestyle, social, and personal needs. It’s easy to forget sometimes how much they can benefit from a culture of charity towards others. I get so focused on working on them and their problems that I often forget to encourage them to look outside themselves and love the community around them. You’re right to list intangible acts of charity; helping a friend, lending a listening ear, or being present in a time of trouble are all momentous acts of charity. These are the kinds of things my students can offer, empowering themselves and their communities.


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