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More on Teaching Courage

A few days back, I was excited at finding out about a book called The Courage to Teach, by Parker Palmer. Reason: though my classes seem to go well, I always feel a fear of teaching return afterwards. That’s so weirdly specific: like being scared of heights only three or seven stories high. And I don’t understand the fear’s ability to grow back every time I get rid of it.

But anyway, I got hold of the book, started reading and it’s everything I’d hope it would be. What it did for me, essentially, is to encourage my teaching in my own way and not worrying about what’s supposed to work best. You’d think that would be perfectly obvious, especially for an artist-type. And, in fact, I’ve pretty much always done it my way, but then worried that people weren’t getting what they needed. Apparntly I needed encouragement to keep on doing what I’ve been doing and simply relax about it.

Here are two quotes I especially like: “External tools of power have occasional utility in teaching, but they are no substitute for authority, the authority that comes from the teacher’s inner life….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.”

And: “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.”

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