Excerpts from “The Heart of a Teacher: Identity and Integrity in Teaching”
p. 2, by Parker J. Palmer
“Here is a secret hidden in plain sight: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. In every class I teach, my ability to connect with my students, and to connect them with the subject, depends less on the methods I use than on the degree to which I know and trust my selfhood and am willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning.
My evidence for this claim comes, in part, from years of asking students to tell me about their good teachers….In every story I have heard, good teachers share one trait: a strong sense of personal identity infuses their work. ‘Dr. A is reallythere when she teachers, a student tells me, or ‘Mr. B has such enthusiasm for his subject,’ or ‘You can tell that this really Prof. C’s life.’
One student I heard about said she could not describe her good teachers because they were so different from each other. But she could describe her bad teachers because they were all the same: ‘Their words float somewhere in front of their faces, like the balloon speech in cartoons.’ With one remarkable image she said it all. Bad teachers distance themselves from the subject they are teaching and, in the process, from their students.
Good teachers join self, subject, and students in the fabric of life because they teach from an integral and undivided self; they manifest in their own lives, and evoke in their students, a ‘capacity for connectedness.’”
Change Magazine, Vol. 29, Issue #6, pp. 14-21, Nov/Dec 1997.
Do you agree with Dr. Parker’s assessment of what is good teaching? Why or why not?