Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education
QUOTATIONS BY PHILOSOPHER
 

PARKER PALMER

 

My Educational Philosophy
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Excerpts from The Courage to Teach

Introduction: Teaching from Within

The subjects we teach are as large and complex as life, so our knowledge of them is always flawed and partial. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


The students we teach are larger than life and even more complex. To see them clearly and see them whole, and respond to them wisely in the moment, requires a fusion of Freud and Solomon that few of us achieve. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


We teach who we are. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Teaching holds a mirror to the soul. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are. I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my own unexamined life—and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Teachers at all levels of education have more in common than we think, and we should not be so glib about which level we call "higher." ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Chapter 1: The Heart of a Teacher

Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


The self is not infinitely elastic—it has potentials and it has limits. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Teaching is a daily exercise in vulnerability. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Unlike many professions, teaching is always done at the dangerous intersection of personal and public life. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


In [academic] culture, the self is not a source to be tapped but a danger to be suppressed, not a potential to be fulfilled but an obstacle to be overcome. In this culture, the pathology of speech disconnected from self is regarded, and rewarded, as a virtue. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Mentoring is a mutuality that requires more than meeting the right teacher: the teacher must meet the right student. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


All heroes have feet of clay. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


When I follow only the oughts, I may find myself doing work that is ethically laudable but not mine to do. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Authority is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Chapter 2: A Culture of Fear

We fear encounters in which the other is free to be itself, to speak its own truth, to tell us what we may not wish to hear. We want those encounters on our own terms, so that we can control their outcomes, so that they will not threaten our view of world and self. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


To avoid a live encounter with teachers, students can hide behind their notebooks and their silence. To avoid a live encounter with students, teachers can hide behind their podiums, their credentials, their power. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


We still face one final fear—the fear that a live encounter with otherness will challenge or even compel us to change our lives. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


I now understand what Nelle Morton meant when she said that one of the great tasks in our time is to "hear people to speech." Behind their fearful silence, our students want to find their voices, speak their voices, have their voices heard. A good teacher is one who can listen to those voices even before they are spoken—so that someday they can speak with truth and confidence. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


What does it mean to listen to a voice before it is spoken? It means making space for the other, being aware of the other, paying attention to the other, honoring the other. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Chapter 3: The Hidden Wholeness

"So, you want us to stop being professors and become therapists." No, that is not what I want. What I want is a richer, more paradoxical model of teaching and learning than binary thought allows, a model that reveals how the paradox of thinking and feeling are joined—whether we are comfortable with paradox or not. Behind the critic's comment is a trained incapacity to see that heart and mind work as one in our students and in ourselves. They cannot be treated separately, one by the professor, the other by the therapist. When a person is healthy and whole, the head and the heart are both-and, not either-or, and teaching that honors that paradox can help make us all more whole. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


Every gift a person possesses goes hand in hand with a liability. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


To become a better teacher, I must nurture a sense of self that both does and does not depend on the responses of others—and that is a true paradox. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


This permission not to speak seems to evoke speech from people who are normally silent: we are more likely to choose participation when we are granted the freedom to do so. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


We will not be able to teach in the power of paradox until we are willing to suffer the tension of opposites, until we understand that such suffering is neither to be avoided nor merely to be survived but must be actively embraced for the way it expands our own hearts. ~ Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach


 

 

 

 
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