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While his writings about ethics captivated a post-war generation, Albert Schweitzer also popularized the view that actions were more important than words.


When did he understand his obligations as a human being? I then ask students to choose their


most important childhood experi- ences in nature and describe what happened. By prompting them with questions about those experiences (such as asking students how they their experiences affected them), I help them structure their writing and explore their own values. From a handful of other excerpts,


students learn that Albert Schweitzer was a high achiever from his earliest years. In addition to being a professor with advanced degrees in both theology and philosophy, he was also one of the world’s great organists. He later met all the qualifications for being a medical doctor, and built a hospital in Equato- rial Africa that provided free care to all sufferers. Schweitzer once said “I would make my life my argu-


ment. I would advocate the things I believed in terms of the life I lived and what I did.”3


In response to this quote, I ask


students to discuss the following questions: How well do they know themselves? How would people who know them well describe them?What do they want to do in their life in five or ten years? Have they experienced life transitions before? If so, what did they remember?What things in their life do they want to change and leave unchanged?What are they grateful for in their lives? After the reading about Albert Schweitzer’s contribution


to the field of music, I try to collaborate with a music teacher and take all of our students on a field trip to a local music conservatory. In a lesson prepared with the assistance of the music teacher, students learn more about Albert Schweitzer and composer Johann Sebastian Bach. (Schweitzer wrote a biography of Bach.) After this music lesson, I use a coopera- tive learning activity to have students prepare an article for the school newsletter that expresses their experience and feelings during their visit to the conservatory. The students then read the excerpts of chapters about


howWorldWar I reached Lambaréné, the town in Gabon where he built his hospital.We learn of his grief over the killing of thousands of people. As German citizens in French Equatorial Africa, the Schweitzers soon became prisoners of war. Albert Schweitzer’s ethical framework emerged in 1915


amidst a world torn by war. As he and his crew were making their way up the Ogowe River in Gabon at sunset through a herd of hippopotami, the phrase “reverence for life” flashed


through his mind. He had finally found a name for his ethi- cal framework. In our course, I ask students to answer the following questions in their notebooks: How did Schweitzer later recall that moment and the day when he discovered the phrase “reverence for life? What was the main idea of his ethics? How did he find the proof of his ethics? Was Albert Schweitzer’s life in Africa one of self-sacrifice or one of joy? In Schweitzer’s view, it was the destiny of men to


influence states and societies by personal action. On the eve of Hitler’s thrust for power, Schweitzer used the occasion of the celebration of Goethe, the famous German writer and philosopher, to articulate his concerns about the political circumstances in Germany. Goethe once said: “Strive for true humanity. Become yourself a man who is true to his inner nature, a man whose deed is in tune with his character”. 4 In their biography, Marshall and Poling describe how


Schweitzer’s ethical concerns drove him from his medical practice in Africa back into the larger world. He joined his old friend Albert Einstein and other scientists in protesting nuclear warfare. In 1952, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After reading about this phase of his life, I ask stu- dents to answer the following questions: How would you describe the leper village which was built with money from Schweitzer’s Nobel Peace Prize? What does citizenship mean?Who is a global citizen?Was Albert Schweitzer a global citizen, and if so, why? Which other individuals do you consider to be global citizens? Using an exercise called Partner Talk, my English learners work in pairs, telling their partners which people are their “environmental heroes.” Through cooperative learning, my students work in


GREEN TEACHER 91 Page 33


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