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The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life [Hardcover]

Parker J. Palmer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 17 2007
"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." — Parker J. Palmer [from the Introduction]

For many years, Parker Palmer has worked on behalf of teachers and others who choose their 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 his approach in THE COURAGE TO TEACH, which takes teachers on an inner journey toward reconnecting with themselves, their students, their colleagues, and their vocations, and reclaiming their passion for one of the most challenging and important of human endeavors.

This book 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, in community with their students and their subject. They possess "a capacity for connectedness" and are able to weave a complex web of connections between themselves, their subjects, and their students, helping their students weave a world for themselves. The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts — the place where intellect, emotion, spirit, and will converge in the human self — supported by the community that emerges among us when we choose to live authentic lives.

BONUS: Includes an audio CD featuring a 45-minute conversation between Parker Palmer and his colleagues, Marcy Jackson and Estrus Tucker from the Center for Courage & Renewal. They reflect on what they have learned from working with thousands of teachers in their "Courage to Teach" program (www.CourageRenewal.org)and with others who yearn for greater integrity in their professional lives.

Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.


Frequently Bought Together

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life + A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life + The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal
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Product Description

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 heart—the 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Recently I have been teaching Middle School Students as Substitute.
I agree with this book's philosophy. I love to teach younster, but get mad when they do not respoect and listen. My heart is there along with my head.
I need to use my heart more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering Immense Value Sept. 3 2009
Format:Hardcover
I first read a chapter of this book for a class during undergrad, and the chapter spoke such truth, I decided to order it months later and I'm currently halfway through, and drinking in every minute of it. Get a pen or pencil ready before you read, and don't be afraid to get the pages messy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! May 20 2004
Format:Hardcover
I notice that the more negative reviews posted here are from semi-literate people. Makes sense. If you are actually educated and teaching, this book is extemely inspiring. It is a good counterpoint to the test and assessment-centered madness that is being foisted upon the US by the current radically conservative government. It tells the truth about what makes a good teacher. I highly recommend this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing for teachers on any level. June 26 2002
Format:Hardcover
This book was very comforting for me as a newer teacher. I look forward to revisisting it in the later years of my career to help measure growth and guide future changes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Source for Those Who Teach July 21 2001
Format:Hardcover
I would recommend this book for any who are setting out to teach, and for those now teaching, especially in the public schools. Palmer's perspective can be of great help to those seeking to refound public education as a postmodern spiritual quest. In other words, as authentic learning rather than mere schooling. Such a perspective may also help public school teachers to respond with a transformative vision to the narrow agenda of those who would reform edcation with mere convention or sectarianism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and Honest May 21 2001
Format:Hardcover
"The Courage to Teach" should be read again and again. It invokes new insights into your teaching career every time at various points in your life. The concepts are inspiring, and the conclusions honest.
If I have any complaints, it's that at times in the book, the language became a bit thick and abstract, losing the reader in extensive passages that might need to be reread several times to fully understand. For example, a sentence from page 105 reads:
"In rejecting the objectivist model, I have not embraced a relativism that reduces truth to whatever the community decides, for the community of truth includes a transcendent dimension of truth-knowing and truth-telling that takes us beyond relativism and absolutism alike."
To be fair, this quote is taken out of context, and I know that the book is not meant to be read like a pleasure novel... it's much deeper and more though-provoking than that. It's a real gem when Palmer describes examples of his points from classroom experiences, but I found myself choking on the pages of abstract language separating these examples. It took me longer than expected to finish.
Despite my minor misgivings, I highly recommend the book... especially to teachers. It'll be a permanent fixture on my bookshelf for years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Asks the Right Questions Feb. 10 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Not since "Spitwad Sutras: Classroom Teaching as Sublime Vocation" have a read a book so focused on the spirituality of teaching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Confidence building - fear reducing book Jan. 1 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book was required reading in an education course I took. I am so glad that it was. It helped me embrace the contradictions inherent in my profession. So many educators and politicians spend so much time trying to "choose sides" between philosophies that are contradictory, but not necessarily mutually exclusive. I am now much more comfortable with my decisions as a teacher. Reading this book helped me stop being afraid. Most of the time, I prefer books that give specific strategies and techniques to use in the classroom, but without those, this book was definitely worth reading.
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