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More from Books & Art
  1. Getting to the heart of the matter
  2. What Martin Luther King Jr. can teach us about nonviolence | National Catholic Reporter
  3. A New Heart: Stories of Hope, Renewal, Transformation and ultimately PEACE
  4. A Decades-Long Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations

As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge—and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.

Parker Palmer explores a movement approach to educational reform. He writes that the genius of movements is paradoxical: They abandon the logic of organizations in order to gather the power necessary to rewrite the logic of organizations. He explores four definable stages in the movements he has studied. For by understanding the stages of a movement, some of us may see more clearly that we are engaged in a movement today, that we hold real power in our hands—a form of power that has driven real change in recent times.

In this occasional paper written for the Fetzer Institute, Palmer illustrates a conceptual approach to a program on the spiritual formation of teachers. The missing link is a perceptive diagnosis of how and why teachers lose their souls. What are the factors that obscure or distort the identity and integrity of teachers so that he or she is not teaching from personal wholeness and, therefore, cannot possibly teach toward personal wholeness? Community is not opposed to conflict.

On the contrary, community is precisely that place where an arena for creative conflict is protected by the compassionate fabric of human caring itself.

It you ask what holds community together, what makes this capacity for relatedness possible, the only honest answer I can give brings me to that dangerous realm called the spiritual. The only answer I can give is that what makes community possible is love.

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From the myriad topics that emerge once one starts looking deeper than technique, I want to describe four that I have found effective in my work with faculty:. Good teaching is an act of generosity, a whim of the wanton muse, a craft that may grow with practice, and always risky business. It is, to speak plainly, a maddening mystery. If we could reclaim the sacred—simple respect—in education, how would it transform our knowing, teaching, and learning?

Parker Palmer explores ways we can recover a sense of the sacred in knowing, teaching and learning. He looks at our sense of the otherness of the things in the world, as well as recovering our sense of community with each other, and finally recovering the humility that makes teaching and learning possible.

Getting to the heart of the matter

Sounds True, In this interview excerpt Parker candidly talks about his experience with depression. March 31, Martin Luther King Jr. After Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, broke the segregation law and was arrested on Dec.

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He was an unknown quantity. Certainly no one expected him to emerge as a Moses-like tower of strength. No one imagined he would invoke Gandhi's method of nonviolent resistance in Christian language as the basis for the boycott. But from day one, he was a force to be reckoned with.

What Martin Luther King Jr. can teach us about nonviolence | National Catholic Reporter

King articulated a methodology of nonviolence that still rings true. It's an ethic of nonviolent resistance that's also a strategy of hope, which can help us today in the thousands of Montgomery-like movements around the world, including the Occupy movements and the ongoing Arab Spring movements. King outlined his way of nonviolence in his account of the Montgomery movement, Stride Toward Freedom published by Harper and Row, pp.

There, he tells the story of the movement and his own personal journey, then offers six basic points for nonviolence. King lived and taught these essential ingredients of active nonviolence until the day he died. Watley, Valley Forge, Judson Press, These fundamental principles, along with his six steps for nonviolent action, make up Dr. King's "to do" list: Get the best of NCR delivered to your inbox! Sign up here. Nonviolence is not for the cowardly, the weak, the passive, the apathetic or the fearful.

While the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong.

A New Heart: Stories of Hope, Renewal, Transformation and ultimately PEACE

The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil; it is active nonviolent resistance to evil. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness. Nonviolence is directed "against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil.

It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil. The evildoers were victims of evil as much as were the individuals and communities that the evildoers oppressed. In this thinking, King echoes St. Paul's admonition that our struggle is ultimately not against particular people but systems -- "the principalities and powers. Nonviolence includes a willingness to accept suffering without retaliation, to accept blows from the opponent without striking back.

A Decades-Long Thaw in U.S.-Cuba Relations

Suffering, the nonviolent resister realizes, has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities. That's a tough pill to swallow, but King insists there is power in the acceptance of unearned suffering love, as the nonviolent resister Jesus showed on Calvary and Dr. King himself showed in his own life and death. Nonviolence avoids not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit.

At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. Cutting off the chain of hate "can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives. That is why King could exhort us to the highest possible, unconditional, universal, all-encompassing love. King the preacher believed God worked through us when we used the weapon of nonviolent love. Nonviolence is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice.


There is a creative force in this universe that works to bring the disconnected aspects of reality into a harmonious whole. These core principles explain why, for King, nonviolence was "the morally excellent way. As explained in Active Nonviolence Vol. I, ed. Information gathering. We need to do our homework and learn everything we can about the issue, problem or injustice so we become experts on the topic.