I was most struck by Palmer's reference to vulnerability in the service of learning (p.10). On page 11, he goes on to add that "The courage to teach is the courage to keep one's heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community....." To me this means much as I teach Middle School students because while they can be incredibly accepting of individuals of all sorts, they can, at times be unaccepting or, very occasionally, even rejecting. Being vulnerable means that in rejection it is not only an idea, lesson, or subject, but we our integrated selves who are judged or rejected. -Serge

I agree absolutely. Teaching can be very very hard on "the heart." In very few occupations do we put our hearts in jeopardy every day, day after day.

I must say that Palmer brings up many, many intersting points. One of the major thoughts that has really stuck for me is when he mentioned that powerful "mentors have the capacity to awaken a truth within us" and that truth is something that we not only carry with us, but also turn to when we need a reminder as to why we chose to teach in the first place. Paola

I like what you mention here Paola---there is power in the awakening and for me, that is the true value of the teaching and learning process. Lisa

Yes, I truly agree. There is a great deal of power in the awakening!!

One of the Palmer insights that most resonates with me at this point in my teaching life is his: when I was young and did not know who I was, I needed someone to model the intellectual gift that might be mine. But now, in midlife, knowing myself better, my identity demands that I use my gift in interaction and interdependence with others. I see my vocation now as essentially mentoring the next generation of English teachers into the profession, a different role from the one I inhabited as a high school English teacher. KS (please use a different color for your post.)

That's interesting, Karen. I think it's great to have a clear idea of what our vocation is. What I wanted to respond to is the comparison Palmer makes between two men, both from families without a lot of formal education (page 15), and their journey into another world---that of higher education. I was struck by the fact that they each approached it in different ways--one being a bit bitter and almost ashamed of where he came from. He became rather defensive and wasn't really himself. The other man, by contrast, embraced his background and made it part of his present and future. He interwove his personal identity, with his teaching identity, which is exactly what Olson's point seems to be. -Lori Qian

Yes, for sure Lori. I think it's a challenge to be always and authentically ourselves.

An interesting read. One of the stories that struck me the most was the story of Prof. X on p. 23. He had tried to emulate his mentor for 20 years to disasterous results and finally broke down in a development seminar. This part made me think of how important it is to be true to yourself as a teacher. It also brought into focus one of the ideas for the first chapter of the Olsen reading about not falling into the traditional methods of the environment in which your find yourself. In a career field where burnout is common, I think that these ideas are valuable and will help me to find my own identity as a teacher and stick to it even if it´s not exactly the way I was taught or how those around me teach.

Yes, I agree. I think the Palmer insight, we teach who we are, is profound because it reaffirms our understanding that the teacher has a great deal of personal power--within him/her--to effect positive results by modeling those learning characteristics we want to see in our students. If we're not learners first then how can we expect our students to be? If we're not intellectually curious, if we're not catholic readers, if we're not involved in our communities, etc. etc. it's very difficult to bring about these desirable outcomes in our students.

One idea here that I believe is of utmost importance is summed up well in the following quote: "The divided self will always distance itself from others, and may even try to destroy them, to defend its fragile identity."(16) When we consider the the vastly diverse needs of the children in the classroom, some of which are more easily addressed than others, we need to keep in mind those children/students who may be overlooked. It is very important to make each student feel valued so they may feel more comfortable to contribute to the class. Someone who has a strong self-concept can confidently interact with and have successful interactions in the classroom. Yes, I agree. Socrates said it didn't he: Know Thyself and by extension who you are in the classroom.We are less threatened by the vagaries of student changeability if we are confident in what we offer. Karen

I felt like bringing something up in our discussion the other day, but we had so many other issues to address. What crossed my mind was the luxury teachers have to bring their own identity into their work. It is not always a given that one can philosophize and bring clear personality into their working day. Having worked in high tech for some time, I felt it was almost the opposite. I was not able to bring an intellectual stance into my workplace. The pace had different requirements and impacted how much of your "real self" could be brought. Just my 2 cents---let's take a moment to recognize the rare position that we are in. Lisa

Yes I truly agree Lisa and Meral. I have found teaching English such a wonderful life because I have never had to live a divided life. The relationship between my life and my work is a seamless one. Karen

So true Lisa, we are very lucky. There are currently more journalists in jail in my country than in China MG

I was intrigued by the idea that as teachers many of us have adopted an on-stage "performance" persona. I thought i was the only one who felt like this :-) I am becoming more aware as I read of the divided self of a deep sense of conflict between what is going on in the actual classroom and in the minds of educators. MG

Expand on this notion Meral...I'm very interested in what you mean. KS

What I am thinking about here really is how our self perception is often not how others see us