- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (August 17, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0787996866
- ISBN-13: 978-0787996864
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 206 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life, 10th Anniversary Edition 2nd Edition
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From the Inside Flap
"A profoundly moving, utterly passionate, and inspired articulation of the call to, and the pain and joy of, teaching. It is must reading for any and every teacher, at any level."
Jon Kabat-Zinn author of Wherever You Go, There You Are
For nearly forty years, Parker Palmer has worked on behalf of teachers and others who choose vocations for reasons of the heart but may lose heart because of the troubled, sometimes toxic systems in which they work. Hundreds of thousands of readers have benefited from The Courage to Teach, which takes teachers on an inner journey toward reconnecting with themselves, their students, and their colleagues, and toward reclaiming vocational passion.
The Courage to Teach builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. Good teaching takes myriad forms but good teachers share one trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, deeply connected with their students and their subject. These connections are held in the teacher's heartthe place where intellect, emotion, spirit, and converge in the human self. Good teachers weave a life-giving web between themselves, their subjects, and their students, helping their students learn how to weave a world for themselves.
In a new Foreword and Afterword to this tenth anniversary edition, Parker Palmer reflects on a decade of movement-building during which he and his colleagues at the Center for Courage & Renewal have helped thousands of teachers and others restore identity and integrity to professional life. On the accompanying audio CD, Parker and his colleagues, Marcy Jackson, and Estrus Tucker, talk about the Center's on-the-ground work and share their hopes for this movement toward human wholeness and community.
From the Back Cover
Celebrating 10 Years of The Courage to Teach
I am a teacher at heart, and there are moments in the classroom when I can hardly hold the joy. . . . But at other moments, the classroom is so lifeless or painful or confused—and I am so powerless to do anything about it—that my claim to be a teacher seems a transparent sham. . . . If you are a teacher who never has bad days, or who has them but does not care, this book is not for you. This book is for teachers who have good days and bad, and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves. It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life.
—From the Introduction
Today, ten years after the publication of The Courage to Teach, I am more hopeful than ever about the potential for education reform because this book has helped me meet so many people who care passionately about teaching and learning and are willing to act on their passion. "Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher's life" allows us to return, grounded and renewed, to the outer landscape of our lives. Having taken heart in the work to which we are called, we can give heart once again to our students, our colleagues, our schools, and our world—a world where heartlessness yields only to gifts and graces that come from within.
—Adapted from the Foreword to the 10th Anniversary Edition
CD included with exclusive conversation with Parker J. Palmer about the Courage to Teach Movement — past, present, and future.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
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So it is with A Courage to Teach. The picture that emerges is a richly toned portrait of `the inner landscape of a teacher's life' (as the cover advertises), but the reader is never quite sure where to focus. Perhaps this is Palmer's intention. It is a mystical book, reminiscent of Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull or some other philosophical meandering, from which one can never quite glean a specific thesis. The fact that each chapter starts with a poetry excerpt is revealing, as is one reviewer's quote: `This book is good news ... for all of us who are committed to the healing of our world.' Whatever that means, it sure sounds nice - can I join? Snide remarks aside, the book is inspiring at its best and well-meaning but muddled at its worst.
Just to add a few comments on various sections of the book...
Palmer makes many good points, but much of the time, he wanders from truism to proverb and back again, sounding somewhat like a New Age self-help book. `You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours.' `The voice of the inward teacher reminds me of my truth as I negotiate the force field of my life.' Huh?
The section about bringing paradoxes back into education, however, is wonderful! It seems to speak directly to the United States, where a childish either-or mentality prevails as we live in the shadow of 9/11/2001. How much more might we have achieved as a nation, both at home and abroad, in these last three-odd years had we not been so infatuated with our leaders' black-and-white worldview?
The chapter on a 'community of truth' hits a few high notes, but the conclusion finds Palmer flailing at mysticism, as he descends into pseudo-theology to relate education and spirituality: `The sacred [is] the mysterium tremendum, the numinous energy at the heart of reality.' He would be better off following the example of Annie Dillard, whom he quotes more than once, but whose writing has far more clarity and power. Either call it God or don't.
I was quite inspired, though, by the idea of a `clearness committee,' whereby a group of four or five peers sits down with a teacher who needs help with a particular issue. These peers have a simple job - infuriatingly simple. They must not, under any circumstances, offer advice on whom to consult, which books to read, what technique to try, or the like; they are charged to ask only `real questions' - those that assume nothing and have no hidden agendas or intimations behind them. The group then spend several consecutive hours in unhurried discussion of the issue, focusing complete attention on the person at the centre. Palmer notes (and I can attest from marital experience) that this not only helps teachers teach better - perhaps they have figured out how to `negotiate the force field'? - but also works wonders on life in general. People who have participated in clearness committees tend to be more caring, patient listeners towards their family, and they tend to think more instinctively about the other person's self-worth and point of view before their own.
Though Palmer does include a proper set of endnotes and even an index, there is scant wrapping up in `The Courage to Teach.' The reader is subliminally encouraged to see the limitless possibilities of `healing the world,' and the book simply ends - or perhaps it doesn't. One cannot quite be sure. However, the effect of the last chapter is rather powerful, using the story of Rosa Parks to exemplify the repercussions of deciding to live an `undivided life.'
I am a teacher (of English as a second language), and I would give this book a qualified recommendation. Read it, plow through it, but don't expect your life to be changed.