Reflections from Parker Palmer

The following reflections are excerpts from The Courage to Teach:  A Guide to Reflection and Renewal, by Parker Palmer.  Enjoy.

Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.

Identity lies in the intersection of the diverse forces that make up life, while integrity lies in relating to those forces in ways that bring is wholeness in life.


The best gift we receive from great mentors is not their knowledge or their approach to teaching but the sense of self they evoke within us.

Fear is a powerful feature of both academic culture and our inner landscape – the fear of having a live encounter with “otherness” in a student, a colleague, a subject, or the voice of the inner teacher.

Knowing is always communal.  Through knowing, we make community with “the unavailable other,” with realities that would elude us without the connective tissue of knowledge.  Knowing is a human way to seek relationship, to have encounters and exchanges that will alter us.

Community is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace, the flowing of personal identity and integrity into the world of relationships.  Only as we are in community with ourselves can we find community with others.

As the community of truth gathers around a “great thing,” it is “the grace of great things” that evokes the virtues we cherish in education:  celebrating diversity, embracing ambiguity, welcoming creative conflict, practicing honesty, and experiencing humility.

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