Good Teaching: A Matter of Living the Mystery

Palmer, Parker J. "Good Teaching: A Matter of Living the Mystery," Change 22, no. 1 (January, 1990): 10-16.

Parker Palmer insists that there is a "capricious chemistry" to good teaching that is ultimately irreducible to a simple technical formula. He advises against making the student a spectator simply watching the teacher as he or she lays out a catalog of "objective" facts. Instead, the subject under study must get inside the student as the teacher facilitate the linking of the subject's insights with the student's own biography. Palmer cautions against the tendency to try to cover every fact in a field of study and suggests alternative methods of evaluating students that facilitates learning. Palmer believes that fear of conflict is one of the most significant obstacles to teachers creating hospitable space for shared discourse. Good teaching, Palmer claims, requires unusual courage as teachers must expose their ignorance along with their insight, remain open to contradiction as well as invite consent and relinquish some measure of control to a class so that the students are empowered.