Today is the first day of classes in the new school year. For my doctoral studies at Fuller I read Parker Palmer's book To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. The quote below captures Palmer's understanding of the "community of learners." This has always been a value of mine, but lately has become even more significant as I seek to facilitate what Jurgen Habermas calls "communicative action," a process for social change that relies on dialogue and a juxtapositioning of ideas. Theologians might understand this as the corporate hermeneutic. Parker Palmer challenges us to enter into community with our students in the journey of learning. This is so hard to do when our undergrads have been conditioned for their entire lives to be quiet in the classroom and answer what the teacher wants on the test. Here is the quote I'm discussing in the first session of each of my classes as I try to create a better space for learning:
"To sit in a class where the teacher stuffs our minds with information, organizes it with finality, insists on having the answers while being utterly uninterested in our views, and forces us into a grim competition for grades – to sit in such a class is to experience a lack of space for learning.
"But to study with a teacher who not only speaks but listens, who not only gives answers but asks questions and welcomes our insights, who provides information and theories that do not close doors but open new ones, who encourages students to help each other learn – to study with such a teacher is to know the power of a learning space."
To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey, Parker Palmer (71)