Magna Online Seminars

Considering the Courage
and Practice of Teaching


A conversation with Parker Palmer and Maryellen Weimer

If you could listen to a conversation between two highly respected professionals in the field about what matters most in teaching, who would they be?  For us, it’s Parker Palmer and Maryellen Weimer.

Parker Palmer, Ph.D., author of The Courage to Teach, and Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., editor of The Teaching Professor newsletter, have inspired countless conversations about why we teach and how we can find it in ourselves to bring out the best in our students and our classrooms.

They are each known for their passion and recognition that teachers experience both success and frustration when working with students.  For the first time, they come together to talk about the underpinnings of their approaches to their work as teachers.  

We were lucky enough to record this conversation between them.

Their conversation does not go down a list of tips or techniques.  Instead, it gets to the heart of why teachers teach.  They discuss the critical—and difficult—role of self-knowledge as a precursor to your work with students.  Listening to this conversation will not result in a to-do checklist—instead it will give you something to reflect on now and for a long time to come.

Palmer and Weimer discuss why self-knowledge is the key to growth and development as teachers, and why truth—not techniques—heals and empowers those who have lost heart.  Their one-hour dialogue revolves around the following questions:

  • Why does effective teaching require courage?
  • How does knowing why you teach change the way you teach?
  • Many teachers lose heart as the years go by.  What is required for healing?
  • If your objective is to create a community in your classroom, how do you set rules and policies that support learning?
  • For many, instruction is either teacher-centered or learner-centered. Can good teaching be both?
  • What should we do about our shortcomings as teachers?

Whether you are a new or experienced faculty member who ended the semester on a high note or a low note, you’ll gain insight, inspiration, and validation from this impassioned conversation.  Listening to Drs. Palmer and Weimer, you’ll have no doubt that finding the fortitude to teach past the challenges you face can produce deep joy and satisfaction.

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