Paradox in Teaching and Learning Essay

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Palmer’s third chapter speaks about paradox in teaching and learning. He describes paradox, overall, as the inner tension experienced in the heart of every teacher, competing and pulling between laughter and pain, joy and sadness, engagement and apathy. He embraces the soul of the teacher pungently: “teaching...can only be expressed as paradoxes”. Push them yet coddle them, inspire them yet give them thinking time, challenge them yet celebrate their established riches. Parker’s description brings into light the true tension in the hearts of teachers, balancing forces of emotion, identity, intellect, and truth. Palmer discusses six major ideas of paradox in teaching. Palmer’s first is space being bound and open. In the…show more content…
Individualism promotes authenticity, creativity, identity, and an ability to express one’s emotions and ideas. Within that, students are called to be parts of a living body. Students begin to hear the collective voice. The motion of group becomes apparent. A collective voice emerges. Amidst the array of individuals, a teacher is called to be the voice of consensus, to bring ideas together of the common group, finding its concentration and rawness. Besides the group voice, Palmer discusses the paradox of little and big stories in a learning space. Within the context of a learning experience, students need opportunities to express their own experiences, to encounter their “inner teacher”, and connect their stories to new learning challenges. To much of our small stories can lead us to narcissm, so the balance of large, archetypal stories “frame our personal tales and help us understand what they mean” (pp 76). Though it is easy for most to share their little stories, it is important for students to hear the big stories, a scaffolding to build their own learning and personal stories. Palmer continues to describe paradox in a learning space by proposing a balance between solitude and resources of the community. Solitude can be connected to syrup farmers. It takes time for the sap to fill the large buckets on a maple tree farm. And even then, the sap must be boiled down to produce only a small amount of syrup. Students need this time
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