Nobel Peace Laureate Albert Schweitzer helped readers think intelligently and imaginatively about the values and purposes of education. Schweitzer’s decision to dedicate his life to medical service in equatorial Africa came after years of study and reflection in other disciplines.
As a young man, Schweitzer was a noted Biblical scholar, minister, organist, and author of a number of philosophical and theological works before choosing to study medicine in 1905 at the age of 30. He encouraged others to “find their own Lambaréné” in their lives and communities, where they could construct and enact their own moral narratives. Schweitzer’s legacy for current educational practice is in three particular areas: education for service, education for environmental awareness, and education for hospitality and community.
First, Schweitzer’s philosophy of life and his actions demonstrate that education should teach people how to serve others and their world rather than to be mere consumers. Second, through an interpretation of his principle “Reverence for Life,” Schweitzer offers an understanding of the environment as more than home and neighborhood, as nature itself, an organic, living source of all that has value. Finally, education in learning the arts of hospitality helps people to form meaningful, respectful, fulfilling communities of learning.
Schweitzer, A. (1998). Out of my life and thought (A. B. Lemke, Trans.). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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