Reviews of and Quotes From Dr. Schweitzer's Books

Here is my review of a book about Dr. Schweitzer. All the books I review are in English. Many of them are out of print, but generally can be found by a book search from a good used-book dealer. See The Albert Schweitzer Page for links to my reviews of books written by Dr. Schweitzer as well as other related information.

Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life

Written By: A. G. Rud
Published: Palgrave Macmillan, New York City, 2011
Hardcover, 173 pages
ISBN 978-0-230-10856-1

Table of Contents

In the first part of this slim volume, Rud provides a series of brief sketches of Schweitzer's life and thought. The connection to education in these sketches is sometimes remote, such as when he discusses Albert and Helene's relationship as shown in their letters, but are often interesting in their own right. In the book's second part, Rud attempts to directly apply Schweitzer's concept of Reverence for Life to schools and the education of children. He calls the result "practical reverence", and uses it as a foundation for moral teaching and curriculum development. Specifically, he recommends teaching include awe and wonder, knowledge, modeling, respect, transcendence, limits and an appreciation of ritual and ceremony. It is not always clear to me how some of these specifically relate to reverence; one gets the feeling that, to Rud, any good trait must be a form of reverence. This book does not set out specific curriculum recommendations, but does provide food for thought for people looking for a way to add meaning and purpose to modern classroom education.

Quotes from Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life

"Inner moral development, the work of the soul in reflecting upon choice, obligation, and responsibilty, coupled with how one approaches what life offers, is the guidance that Schweitzer takes from Goethe, rather than what he considers the superficial idea of reverence in Wilhelm Meister."

"Schweitzer's own Christianity and its central role in his viewpoint are complicated by other influences, such as Enlightenment reason and also Indian religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. His formulation of Christianity is complex enough to prompt scholars to ask if he indeed was a Christian. This question seems oddly absurd given his background as a practicing pastor and scholar who examined the 'historical Jesus.' In addition, he had an almost childlike appreciation of Jesus and saw his work in Africa as following Jesus. Yet Schweitzer was also a scholar of the New Testament and used his mind to examine in detail all that had been said about Jesus in scholarly works. So it is a blend of heart and head that Schweitzer brings to Jesus, adding the element of hand in his work in the hospital. Schweitzer combined three views of Jesus into one powerful holism: a critical-historical evaluation of the 'historical Jesus'; a passionate and almost childlike following of him as a savior; and a spiritualized Jesus."

[Describing the author's meeting with Rhena Miller, Albert and Helene Schweitzer's daughter] "Rhena was lucid and spoke vividly from memory of her childhood education. She was particularly passionate about the influence of the 'Herrenhuter' (Moravian Brethren) upon her father's thinking, and their influence on her as teachers. Her father remembered a simple Christian piety and way of life, and wanted his daughter to absorb that..."

"Yet by far the most important meaning of Reverence for Life in an educational context is its prescriptive function, declaring what we ought to do. Here it can be enacted within the process of curricular planning as a guiding maxim to judge how the teaching and learning environment will be constructed. Reverence for Life then becomes an ideal that is practical within educational theory and practice, what I term 'practical reverence.' ... If we are to treat reverence practically in our schools, we should begin to identify those traits of reverent teachers. Such traits include showing awe and wonder before the subject matter they teach. These teachers also have deep respect for their students while seeking to deserve their respect. Reverent teachers show strong leadership and include others in their deliberations. They also understand the importance of ritual and ceremony in establishing classroom and school community."

Table of Contents of Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life