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Teaching with Heart and Soul: Reflections on Spirituality in Teacher Education

Parker J. Palmer

"We know we have lost something important in professional training and practice. But we keep looking for it in all the wrong places because the bright light of science has been almost exclusively focused on "objective realities" like technique, curricula and cash, rather than on soulful factors such as relational trust. (In fact, we are so obsessed with externals that we will even adopt "objective" measures that weaken relational trust, as highstakes testing is now doing in too many places.) What does it take to build relational trust? It takes people who are explorers of their own inner lives. It takes people who know something about how to get beyond their own egos; how to withdraw the shadow-projections that constantly involve us in making "enemies" out of others; how to forgive and seek forgiveness; how to rejoin soul and role."

Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 54, No. 5, Nov/Dec 2003

This article revolves around two questions: Is there a “spiritual” dimension to good teaching? If so, do spiritual considerations have a place in teacher education? Defining spirituality as “the eternal human yearning to be connected with something larger than our own egos,” Palmer answers both questions in the affirmative, and he explores the implications of these answers for teacher education. The article pays special attention to a “pedagogy of the soul” that respects both cultural diversity and the separation of church and state and is relevant to institutional and social change as well as personal transformation.