In times of emotional stress, many people run to comfort food. For some, it’s a big bowl of macaroni and cheese. For others, it may be a plate of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. For me, comfort food has always been a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup. Regardless of the food, we seek out the foods that nourish us while also feeding our soul.
But what about professional stress? While I’m sure comfort food can help us navigate difficult professional times too, I find that returning to some foundational readings helps to comfort me. With this being such a challenging semester for so many of us, I thought I’d share a handful of quotes from one of my favorite “comfort reads” – Parker Palmer’s The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. I’ve referenced Parker Palmer a bunch of times over the years and have used his quotes to support some of the points I was trying to make at the time. This week, I’m going to deviate from this a bit. I’m going to share a few Parker Palmer quotes and let you do the heavy lifting of finding meaning and comfort in them. Enjoy.
“Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique,- good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.”
“Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.”
“As good teachers weave the fabric that joins them with students and subjects, the heart is the loom on which the threads are tied: the tension is held, the shuttle flies, and the fabric is stretched tight. Small wonder, then, that teaching tugs at the heart, opens the heart, even breaks the heart—and the more one loves teaching, the more heartbreaking it can be.We became teachers for reasons of the heart, animated by a passion for some subject and for helping people to learn.”
“Good teaching is an act of hospitality toward the young, and hospitality is always an act that benefits the host even more than the guest. The concept of hospitality arose in ancient times when this reciprocity was easier to see: in nomadic cultures, the food and shelter one gave to a stranger yesterday is the food and shelter one hopes to receive from a stranger tomorrow. By offering hospitality, one participates in the endless reweaving of a social fabric on which all can depend—thus the gift of sustenance for the guest becomes a gift of hope for the host. It is that way in teaching as well: the teacher’s hospitality to the student results in a world more hospitable to the teacher.”
“The personal can never be divorced from the professional. “We teach who we are” in times of darkness as well as light.”