Morrie\'s Aphorisms
No bubble is so iridescent or floats longer than that blown by the successful
teacher. Sir William Osler (1849-1919), 4 Oct. 1911, Glasgow (quoted in: Harvey

Cushing, Life of Sir William Osler, vol. 2, ch. 31, 1925). Mitch Albom wrote

Tuesday’s with Morrie as a final tribute to his old college professor, Morrie

Schwartz, who intended that his death should be his "final thesis."

Grim and fascinating, Professor Schwartz’s courage in the face of a painful
death is truly inspiring. The lucidity and wisdom which Professor Schwartz
gained over the years became increasingly pronounced and focused as he
contemplated his life and imminent death, as well as his place in the Cosmos
while his frail body melted away through A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig\'s disease). This
paper will discuss five of Professor Schwartz aphorisms (or proverbs), which
would facilitate learning in subject- specific -and other educational venues.

The Meaning of Life "So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They
seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are
important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get
meaning into your life is devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to
your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives
you purpose and meaning." (emphasis added) (p. 43) Professor Schwartz’s
analysis of the "meaning of life" is particularly appropriate for
teaching philosophical views and sociological concepts. Since time immemorial,
man has contemplated why he is on the Earth and what his place is in the
‘Greater Scheme of Things’. While students rush through the educational
process in a pinball-like attempt to learn what they need to thrive and survive,
they frequently overlook those aspects of their education, which are the most
important. When people become self-actualized, as Professor Schwartz did, they
are better able to view humanity from a broader angle. This "better
view" of mankind involves a commitment to others and to the community in
which one lives, but it is more elemental than that. Material possessions,
according to the professor, mean little when you are lying on your deathbed.

What is truly important is that an individual’s life is given meaning and
purpose by the degree to which that individual has served and loved others.

Admittedly, Professor Schwartz had the wisdom of years and the insight provided
by decades of philosophical research; however, the quest for the "meaning
of life" is a universal aspect of mankind and finding the right answer is
like finding the Holy Grail -- many have looked but few have seen. Therefore,

Professor Schwartz’s thought process concerning devoting oneself to loving
others and their community is particularly appropriate in a philosophical and
sociological learning environment. A better learning experience could be gained
by a requirement that all college students perform a certain number of hours of
service to the community: painting and repairing low-income housing, or
volunteering at nursing homes or veteran centers, for example. This "giving
back" to the community would reinforce Professor Schwartz’s view that we
are all part of the human family and we gain meaning in our lives through
service to others. An activity using this aphorism in the classroom was
completed by my sixth grade Literature class at Greenwich Catholic School. The
grade decided to express the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas by bypassing the
holiday gift giving and donating their gifts to a local charity of the
children’s choice. Then, each child wrote an essay on the ‘true meaning’
of Christmas and related their experience to the activity performed. This truly
put Morrie’s proverb to work. Faith and Trust "You see," he says to the
girl, "you closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot
believe what you see; you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever
going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too
-- even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling." (p. 61) There
is an old saying concerning trust and faith: "Fake it till you make
it." This means that trust and faith can be learned. Trusting others is
more difficult for some people than others. Trust, then, is the basis for all
human endeavors, which involve others, since we must accept on faith that people
will act in certain ways in order to live our daily lives. For example, in a
learning environment, trust is the basis for the effective transmission of
knowledge from teacher to student. Moreover, it is the essence of living in a
civilized society, for, if we cannot trust the driver approaching