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To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey Paperback – 18 Aug 1993


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To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey + Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (A Jossey Bass title) + The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity and Caring (Religion)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprinted Ed edition (18 Aug. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060664517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060664510
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 0.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

This primer on authentic education explores how mind and heart can work together in the learning process. Moving beyond the bankruptcy of our current model of education, Parker Palmer finds the soul of education through a lifelong cultivation of the wisdom each of us possesses and can share to benef

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 28 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
I have long been a fan of Parker Palmer, from his work on teaching and vocation to his work on spirituality - his volume 'Let Your Life Speak' is one of my regular 're-reads'; his book 'The Courage to Teach' is also an important piece of my personal vocational discernment. This book is a 'new event' in my life; originally assigned as part of a class, it has already become part of my 'necessary' books.
I recognise myself in some of the pages here, both as a teacher and as a student. Palmer combines ideas from theories of education with ideas from theology, spirituality and vocational discernment. I do sense myself falling into the 'must get an A' mode in many of my classes; Palmer writes that this is fairly typical of the Western intellectual paradigm. He draws an example from the film 'The Day After Trinity', about the makers of the first atomic weapons, and how they were goal-oriented to such an extent that they didn't take time to reflect on the greater ramifications of their work - the work itself and progress toward the goal (here an 'A' constituted a workable, fission bomb) was all that mattered. One of the downsides of letting to part of the educational experience go in favour of a less target-oriented, graded approach (not really addressed in his writing) is that the rest of the world does look to this - will others interpret the 'C' on my transcript from my undergraduate days and realise as I did that that particular class was more valuable to me than any other?
Palmer states that our quest for knowledge derives from two sources, curiosity and control. Palmer argues another source, however, beyond these two, and that is love. 'This love is not a soft and sentimental virtue, not a fuzzy feeling of romance.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
This book appears to be a teacher-oriented book, but it is in fact a book for those interested in knowing themselves better, which then is integrated into their teaching. Palmer deals with life seen through the eyes of truth, which includes teaching. This book not only helped my teaching, but also my faith, my knowledge of myself, and how to really interact with others. This book has reshaped how I think about life and teaching. Good teaching comes from our personal development, and you cannot separate them in any way.
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Here are the book's Contents:
1. Knowing Is Loving
2. Education as Spiritual Formation
3. The Teaching Behind the Teaching
4. What Is Truth?
5. To Teach Is to Create a Space . . .
6. . . . In Which Obedience to Truth Is Practiced
7. The Spiritual Formation of Teachers

"To teach is to create a space . . . in which Obedience to Truth is practiced" - this is the most stunning aphorism of teaching I've ever encountered. For that alone I would award five stars.

This is a much-needed statement that redeems the heart of teaching in a materialistic, state-dependent educational setup. This book gently and powerfully leads us to reconnect with our own lost / forgotten / unnoticed / denied / hidden heart. Only out of such a place of love of honesty and truth can one grow in understanding and stature as a teacher, keep studying the universe with passion - and keep sharing the precious journey of discovery with integrity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 46 reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Teaching with a gentle spirit 10 Feb. 2005
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have long been a fan of Parker Palmer, from his work on teaching and vocation to his work on spirituality - his volume 'Let Your Life Speak' is one of my regular 're-reads'; his book 'The Courage to Teach' is also an important piece of my personal vocational discernment. This book is a 'new event' in my life; originally assigned as part of a class, it has already become part of my 'necessary' books.

I recognise myself in some of the pages here, both as a teacher and as a student. Palmer combines ideas from theories of education with ideas from theology, spirituality and vocational discernment. I do sense myself falling into the 'must get an A' mode in many of my classes; Palmer writes that this is fairly typical of the Western intellectual paradigm. He draws an example from the film 'The Day After Trinity', about the makers of the first atomic weapons, and how they were goal-oriented to such an extent that they didn't take time to reflect on the greater ramifications of their work - the work itself and progress toward the goal (here an 'A' constituted a workable, fission bomb) was all that mattered. One of the downsides of letting to part of the educational experience go in favour of a less target-oriented, graded approach (not really addressed in his writing) is that the rest of the world does look to this - will others interpret the 'C' on my transcript from my undergraduate days and realise as I did that that particular class was more valuable to me than any other?

Palmer states that our quest for knowledge derives from two sources, curiosity and control. Palmer argues another source, however, beyond these two, and that is love. 'This love is not a soft and sentimental virtue, not a fuzzy feeling of romance.' It is one that incorporates curiosity and control aspects, but serves as a deeper connection to the world in which we live. Palmer quotes Thomas Merton, who stated that the purpose of education is relation to the world in authentic and spontaneous ways.

Just as relation is important for education, knowledge and truth are also held by Palmer to be communal in nature. Palmer argues against various 'objective' models that often fall short of the mark; there is room for the individual and the communal in his formulation, but this is something that must faithfully interact in relationship with each aspect and with each other. Palmer argues against simple objectivism (telling the world what it is) and simple subjectivism (listening to no one but ourselves), and calls for obedience - an admittedly unpopular word, Palmer acknowledges. Obedience has roots in understanding and in listening; taken from this angle (and realizing that obedience is not a blind virtue here, but rather a monastic virtue such as the Benedictine vows of obedience to authority, which is again an authority different from typical forms in the world).

Palmer urges teachers to be conscious of their styles and the kind of learning space they create. He states that there are three characteristics of learning space that must be attended to - openness, boundaries, and hospitality. Openness means removing barriers to learning, be they physical, psychological, or spiritual. Boundaries, however, are important; boundaries should not be barriers, but should serve to keep things on track and relevant. Hospitality is vital, and an element we've let fall away in the modern world in many respects - how welcome are new ideas? New people? New methods? Palmer states that hospitality is both an ethical and epistemological virtue.

Palmer's final chapter is crucial for those who will be teachers; those with good professional technique can only be made more effective by the kind of personal development and reflection that comes from the development of practices that Palmer derives from spiritual practices in the long history of Christianity and other religions. Humility, discipline, practicing silence and solitude - these things can 'recharge the batteries', so to speak, of any teacher.

While some critics have stated that Palmer's ideas of teaching and formation are really only applicable for liberal arts or religious-themed instructors/instruction, I would differ with them. I once had an astronomy professor and a mathematics professor, each of whom would draw the philosophy, history and deeper meanings of their subjects in at every level so that their lectures and conversations were not simple mechanical presentations. I once heard of an organic chemistry professor who began the semester by saying, 'this semester, we are going to explore the psychology of Carbon'. What a wonderful way to present the subject! These people got it - there was great love in their teaching and their care for their material, and it showed.
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A must read�period. 2 Dec. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book appears to be a teacher-oriented book, but it is in fact a book for those interested in knowing themselves better, which then is integrated into their teaching. Palmer deals with life seen through the eyes of truth, which includes teaching. This book not only helped my teaching, but also my faith, my knowledge of myself, and how to really interact with others. This book has reshaped how I think about life and teaching. Good teaching comes from our personal development, and you cannot separate them in any way.
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
confrontative; forces contemplation; brings freedom 9 Jan. 1998
By Zossima - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Palmer's book, ostensibly about education and learning, contains truths that call one to introspection regarding the whole of life. The book has definitely influenced me to change the objective and methods of my teaching. But its value in my personal life cannot be measured. Palmer's teaching regarding the communal nature of truth and the necessity of obedience to that which is learned forces deep introspection. What words of knowledge have I let fall to the ground in my search for the next great idea or intellectual stimulant? Introspection on this matter brings me to understand that entering troth with knowledge frees me to live simply, in community with mankind. Dave
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A Call for Teachers to Teach Meaningfully 10 Mar. 2001
By Mark Valentine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What I carried away from this short book is this: Teacher's need to create a culture in their classrooms that involves these three things, Openness, Boundaries, and Hospitality. Meditating on these three elements gives me motivation to strive to achieve a balance in my own teaching using these elements, creating volume with these three dimensions. Openness allows for freedom to pursue ideas and skills with curiosity and creativity; Boundaries allows for discipline and focus in achieving educational goals, and Hospitality allows for the respect and responsibility that must be at the heart of all human endeavors to appear and flourish.
A little tip, though: After the first chapter, for me, the book really took off. At first, I felt that he was somewhat vague and inspecific in what he wanted to write about, but thereafter, he filled each chapter with meditative, thoughtful, yet practical talk about significant teaching goals and practices.
I think reading Palmer on Education is akin to reading Rollo May on Psychology. You will be a better person at the end of your reading.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding and transformational! 20 Mar. 2006
By Vanessa Bradby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Parker Palmer has created a truly outstanding work with To Know as We Are Known. This work explores the nature of truth, and challenges readers to examine and transform the ways they teach and learn
Palmer's model centers on the premise that truth is neither objective (an object can be manipulated, abused, and co-opted for use to whatever ends we so desire, we do not bear the kind of love that requires responsibility toward objects) nor subjective (subjectivism is the decision to listen only to ourselves in the search for truth, it concedes diversity without calling into dialogue.) Truth is relational. Real truth can only be found in an open willingness to both search out and listen in respect (borne out of non-selfish love) to the subject being learned, the students being taught, and to the future we are creating together.
In order to illustrate the objectivist approach to knowledge, he uses the example of the atomic bomb. He quotes Robert Oppenheimer as saying "The physicists have known sin." The objective way treats knowledge as something self-contained, and takes no responsibility for the outcomes of research or development. He lets the fruits of this way, the example of Hiroshima, stand in stark contrast to a story about 4th century wandering mystics and hermits (the Desert Fathers and Mothers.)
The story is about Abba (Father) Felix, and a group of monks who sought him out for his wisdom. They begged him to give them a word of truth. He was silent for a long time, and then explained that God had withdrawn words of truth from old men, because those who seek them out had no intention of following the truth they received with their lives. The brothers then realized their own intentions and groaned "Pray for us Abba Felix!"
In this example, which becomes a central illustration throughout the book, Abba Felix is not treating truth (in this case religious truth) as an object which he possesses and can dispense to whomever he pleases. Instead, he initiates a relationship with the students, assessing their need- which is not platitudes or gems of wisdom, but a wake-up call- and gives them truth in love that transforms their minds instead of just adding to their store of objective knowledge bits. Palmer describes how this method is applicable not only to religious truth but to all subjects; from treating historical literary figures as friends whose voices need to be listened for in their work, to emphasizing the responsibility to community and future with which scientists need to go about their research.
The style of writing can be a bit complicated at first. This is hardly surprising, as Palmer tells us he has spent his early career writing for Academia. It is, however, well worth the minor effort needed to adjust to the style. Another weakness of this work is the practical application suggestions, Palmer spends only two chapters on them and at that point the book gets less engaging.
Overall, these problems are vastly overshaddowed by the worth of this book. It is transformational, and I wish everyone would read, understand, and be open to its message.
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