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sociology and environmental education have reached a common conclusion about building environmental citizen- ship skills: emphasis should be placed on the development of attitudes, strong feelings of concern for the environment, value judgments and personal experience. The goal of any ESL program is to develop the skills

that students need to communicate and defend their own opinions. In my program, another goal is to explore whether teaching environmental ethics in the ESL classroom can stimulate sensitivity to environmental issues and promote knowledge about environmental ethics. By adding environ- mental education to an ESL curriculum, I aim to help new- comers clarify their own environmental values, behaviors and ethical ideals.

Implementing the program

To achieve these goals, it was important to provide the phil- osophical ideas of Albert Schweitzer in a format that new- comers could use. Since beginning English speakers would find it difficult to read his books, I created 31 short excerpts of George Marshall and David Poling’s book Schweitzer: A Biography.2

Each excerpt is 150-300 words long and at the

end of each I have added five exercises: “Learn these words”; “Fill in the blanks”; “Answer the following questions”; “Write the answers in your notebook”; and “Partner talk: I agree/ I disagree”. This yielded a textbook that both met the guidelines for ESL classes and provided a means for new- comers to learn to speak, read and write English. In their introduction, Marshall and Poling describe Schweitzer as a man, not a myth. This helps readers to

About Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer was a famous philosopher, musician, theologian, and physician, who was born in 1875 in Alsace, France — then a part of Germany. Author of the “Reverence for Life” and other books, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 and was appointed to the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth in 1955. In his book Out of my Life and Thought (1949) he wrote: “The great

fault of all ethics hitherto has been that they believed themselves to have to deal only with the relations of man to man. In reality, however, the question is what is his attitude to the world and all life that comes within his reach. A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, and that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help”. In regard to his personal philosophy, he said “It’s not enough merely

to exist. It’s not enough to say ‘I‘m earning enough to live and support my family. I do my work well. I’m a good father. I’m a good husband. I’m a good churchgoer.’ That’s all very well, but you must do something more. Seek always to do some good somewhere.” (This Week Magazine, 1959) His commitment to serve humanity through thought and action inspired millions; he showed us how rich a human life can be. Actively living his own philosophy, Albert Schweitzer devoted his

life to direct service in Africa as a doctor. In 1913, he established a hospital at Lambarene, Gabon, which became his home for most of his life. Today, his hospital there serves 5,000 people and employs staff from many different countries. Albert Schweitzer died on September 4, 1965.


identify with him. I guide my students through the text with pre- and post-reading activities. Before each reading each excerpt, I introduce students to the new vocabulary in the passage. The students read the new words in the text, and find their meanings in the Canadian English dictionary. To practice reading, I use two methods. The students can

read the text aloud in the class. This supports English lan- guage learners in listening to and recalling language models. Alternatively, silent reading helps them read independently and find pleasure in reading authentic text. Working in pairs, in small groups or as a whole class activity, I then use fill-in- the-blanks exercises to assess reading comprehension. After- wards, students answer study questions in their notebooks. I provide pre-writing activities during guided writing.

For example, from one excerpt, the students learn about Albert Schweitzer’s early compassion for all life and about the first watershed moment in his moral and intellectual development. Albert spent most of his childhood in a small village where many incidents of animal cruelty and suffer- ing left a permanent mark on his character. A friend once asked him to go with him to shoot birds. Just at the moment of attack, a distant bell began to ring. For Albert, this ring- ing seemed to represent a divine warning not to kill or to torture other creatures. He jumped to his feet, shouting and waving his arms to startle the birds out of their vulnerable location. Years later he reflected how grateful he was to have received that warning. After reading the excerpt, I ask students to explore ques-

tions such as:When did Schweitzer realize that all creatures have intrinsic value?What are human beings?What is nature?

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