Supplementary Reader #1--Tuesdays With Morrie : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Albom, Mitch (1997). Tuesdays With Morrie; An Old Man, a Young Man and Lifes Greatest Lesson. New York, New York: Doubleday.

*NOTE: I was prepared to write a summary of a journal article I read about children and socialization, when I was presented this book and was told it was extraordinary. I read it in two days in between working, cooking, shopping, and gathering for Thanksgiving. I could hardly put it down and felt that it would be an appropriate selection to report on because it so uniquely applies to teaching, encompassed within the whole perspective of living and reaching out to others.

This book tells the story of a college professor, Morrie Schwartz and his student, Mitch Albom, who developed a special teacher-student relationship. Years after graduation, the student, now a renowned sportswriter, had lost touch with his old professor. One evening Mitch turned on an ABC television show Nightline and discovered Morrie being interviewed by Ted Koppel. Morrie was suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease which is a fatal, degenerative neurological disease. It starts near the feet and progresses up to the lungs, shutting down systems along the way. Although a person becomes paralyzed, the pain is immense. Eventually, a person is unable to move at all, speak or eat, and suffocates as the lungs shut down, unable to function.

Mitch rekindled his relationship with Morrie during the last months of the professors life, and the two met every Tuesday for what they called their final class: lessons in how to live.

Morrie was a very deep, spiritual person, who borrowed philosophies from various religions. He reflected on his feelings about dying... the pain he was feeling, the emotions he was experiencing, and drew parallels to life. One lesson that he shared was the tension of opposites. Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldnt. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. (p.40) He compared these feelings to dying. I mourn my dwindling time, but I cherish the chance it gives me to make things right. (p.167)

Another lesson that Morrie shared was his simple, yet profound, philosophy of life. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. (p.43) He felt that our culture was not one that made people feel good about themselves, and that people needed to be strong enough to do things another way, placing value on people; not material possessions or appearances. In the end, and we all must come to an end, those are the things that matter. During his illness, Morrie received letters, phone calls, and visits from people who were suffering in one way or another or who had been touched by his story. Although dying, he received strength from offering whatever advice he could to those who needed it, and strength from those thinking and praying for him. He felt that he still had a purpose in life in reaching out to help others.

Morries overall message throughout the book was, Once youve learned how to die, you learn how to live.(p.82) He wanted to pass that message on through this one last lesson, so that others would benefit before death forced the issue.

The statement that Mitch Albom made on the final page of the book, in tribute to his old professor, made me question myself as an educator. Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes it is right along their bedsides.(p.192)P>

This book deeply affected me . I could identify with Mitch Alboms flight through life, busy, rushing about, looking for meaning in the next car or trip; dedicated, but never really digging in. We all must die, but it seems like its something that happens to someone else...certainly not to us or someone we love. But yet if youve ever lost someone close to you, you come a step closer to realizing your own mortality.

As I was reading this book, I questioned my goals in life. Is the bigger house really going to make me happy? If I make more money am I going to be satisfied? Am I spending enough time with the people I care about the most? Am I reaching out to others and really contributing to the world? How can I be the kind of teacher Morrie was? If I had a day to live, how would I spend my time? Will I look back at my hour of death and feel that what I did, mattered?

Morrie Schwartz was truly A Teacher to the Last.

-- Anonymous, November 27, 1998



I found your reflections very moving. After I read through your summary, I realized I had seen part of this interview on Nightline. I think that as teachers we must be devoted to providing the best learning environment for our varied learners. Stories like this one help us appreciate and respect life. The bottom line is "Life is what you make of it."


-- Anonymous, November 29, 1998

Lisa, I was truly moved by your comments made on the book you read. Please share your book with me. I would love to read it. I do believe that we have to live each day to the fullest because we never know what tomorrow will bring. I believe I need to be the best educator I can be each day I walk into that school. If I can change the life of one student every year of my life, that might be one student that some others were not able to reach. We all need one another in the field of education--we need to lean on one another, share ideas, and just plain be there! Thank you for opening my eyes to some things that I take for advantage for regarding my peers, students, and my family. Shelby

-- Anonymous, December 07, 1998

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