.. hieved when you realize that life is short and ultimately precious. If you let society dictate your dreams, those are the dreams you will die with. From a motivational standpoint in a learning environment, this aphorism is exceptional since it will encourage students to move beyond the institutional structures, which press heavily on civilized societies. From an educational standpoint, “learning how to die so you can learn how to live” would be applicable in classroom discussions.
For example, lets examine the problems associated with aging and coping with loss. When people are able to accept their own mortality, they are then able to make the most of their lives by realizing their ambitions, trying new things and taking chances they would not have otherwise. In a classroom setting, taking chances and trying new things are what it is all about: rote learning will not provide an individual with the insight needed to achieve all that may be possible. An example of an activity that could be used in the classroom is a creative writing project. You tell the students to go home and get a list of things from an adult (preferably a parent) that did not exist thirty years ago.
Then, the students can make a list of things that they use all the time. The students can group ideas from each list and write an essay on the similarities of their parents and themselves. This activity can point out the changing of time and the mortality of life. Additionally, it will improve the students writing skills through drawing inferences and making conclusions. Cultural Values “Heres what I mean by building your own little subculture,” Morrie said. “I dont mean you disregard every role of your community.
I dont go around naked, for example. I dont run through red lights. The little things, I can obey. But the big things — how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You cant let anyone — or any society — determine those for you.” (p. 155) Values clearly are the guiding principles of life and teachers are in a position to teach them; however, values are accumulated over a lifetime through parental guidance, other family members, and pressure from peers, religious leaders and educators.
Furthermore, it is possible for teachers to encourage students to question the validity of the status quo — to push the limits — to achieve the unachievable — by recognizing that what other people believe to be important may not be appropriate or even relevant. Teaching students to “create a culture of their own”, encourages individual values and thought and will provide them with the ability to think about things differently and to live their lives based on a solid foundation of personal integrity. Professor Schwartz insight in this regard would be well suited for educational settings, which require an analysis of an individuals place in society and the values associated with various religions. This aphorism can be used in many venues such as History, Philosophy, Sociology and Literature. An activity done by an eighth grade class at my school reinforced Morries aphorism well. The class studied many different cultures and created list of each cultures attributes. Next, the students took what they most admired about each culture and created a list of their own.
Then, they organized that list into their own personal culture they could live by. Each student created a poster board of their cultures values and attributes. These students also did an oral presentation describing their new culture to the class. Were All Part of the Human Family ” I heard a nice little story the other day,” Morrie says. “He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait. Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time.
Hes enjoying the wind and the fresh air — until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. My God, this is terrible, the wave says. Look what’s going to happen to me! Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, why do you look so sad? The first wave says, “You don’t understand! Were all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isnt it terrible?” The second wave says, “No, you dont understand. Youre not a wave, youre part of the ocean.” (Emphasis added) This “Morrie-ism” is perhaps the most important lesson contained in Tuesdays With Morrie. The concept of being “part of the ocean” reflects Professor Schwartz view of accepting our mortality so we can live more fully. It is actually more fundamental than that — it means that we accept the fact that although we must die physically, in a spiritual sense, we continue to exist in the hearts and minds of those we knew and loved.
This concept would be an effective adjunct to a course on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. As people gain experience and wisdom, recognition that we are all part of a continuous circle of life is achieved and an appreciation for the part we all play in the Cosmos is attained. At the high school level, this aphorism would be effective for Creative Writing, History and the Sciences. An activity effectively using this aphorism could be describing to the students the effect of the food chain. As the students build the chain, the teacher can point out the need for all creation, especially the lower species, in order for more developed species to exist.
Another effective activity can be the creation of a family tree. The student can see the importance of all who exist on a personal level. The aphorisms of Professor Schwartz could be applied to numerous learning environments in which values and humanity are discussed. The insights contained in Tuesdays With Morrie took the professor a lifetime to develop and by communicating them to us, he truly achieved his self-written epitaph of “Teacher to the End.” One last “Morrie-ism” which might be extrapolated from the many he provides is “Knowledge can be learned but wisdom must be earned.” Professor Schwartz certainly earned his knowledge and wisdom. By devoting his remaining days on Earth to imparting this knowledge to us, he “walked the walk” instead of just “talking the talk.” Bibliography The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations is licensed from Columbia University Press. Copyright 1993, 1995 by Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
Tuesdays With Morrie is published by Doubleday Books. Copyright 1997 by Mitch Albom.