November 13, 2000
'Master teacher' Palmer
Emory Nov. 17-18
By Michael Terrazas email@example.com
Noted writer and pedagogical theorist Parker Palmer will visit Emory
Nov. 17 to deliver a lecture, The Recovery of Community in Higher
Education: Focus on Teaching and Learning, at
Palmers work spans a range of institutions, from colleges and universities
to public schools and community organizations, to churches, corporations
and foundations. He is a senior associate for the American Association
of Higher Education and a senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute, having
founded the latters Teacher Formation Program for K12
teachers across the country.
I understand the mission of the university to be described in three
words: knowing, teaching and learning, Palmer said. What are
the forms of community that will support those three parts of our mission?
I start with the premise that those three activities are and always have
been essentially communal acts.
Knowing, for example, has often been thought of as
an act of individual genius, Palmer continued. Teaching and
learning have often been thought of as an act of one-on-one exchange between
a professor who has information and a student who doesnt. But I
am trying to say that all three of those things are complex, communal
acts and always have been, and if we cant figure out how to do them
communally, then we probably are not doing them very well.
In his writings, Palmer has explored a phenomenon hes called the
privatization of the professoriate. University faculty, he
says, seldom invite their fellow professors into their classrooms to observe
and later discuss teaching technique.
When you privatize an act, you also keep it from growing,
Palmer said. You continue to recycle the same old stuff when you
do work in an essentially privatized form.
Palmer received his bachelors in philosophy and sociology from
Carleton College in Minnesota.After a year at Union Theological Seminary
in New York, he went on to earn his masters and doctorate in sociology
from the University of California at Berkeley. He published The Courage
to Teach in 1998, The Active Life in 1999 and Let Your Life
Speak earlier this year.
With a background in both social science and theology, Palmer recognizes
the difficulty of campuswide discussions of teaching that incorporate
vastly different disciplines and traditions. But he still believes such
discussion is possible.
It should be, he said. My experience over 30 years
is that what seem on the surface to be different forms of teachingwhether
it be kindergarten, graduate school or professional schoolhave an
enormous amount in common. In fact, kindergarten teachers know a lot that
we seem to have forgotten by the time we have become professors, in terms
It would be very rare to find a kindergarten teacher who stood
up and lectured at students for 50 minutes, Palmer said. It
would be much more common to find kindergarten teachers engaging students
with the subject and with each other in communal ways, so that human beings
have a way to learn in a way they most naturally learn: through interactions
with the world and with other people.
Following his lecture on Nov. 17, Palmer will conduct a workshop on Saturday,
Nov. 18, at 10:30 a.m. on the Oxford campus.
Both events are sponsored by the University Advisory Council on Teaching
and are open only to Emory faculty, staff and students.
To request a reservation or for more information, call Karen Brown-Wheeler at 404-712-9156.