Tag Archives: teaching

Six Great Quotes from “The Courage to Teach”

I recently finished Park Palmer’s The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life.  It’s a powerful reflection born out of a lifetime seeking to understand the craft of teaching.

This isn’t a how-to manual filled with tips and tricks on how to teach effectively.  Those hoping to plunder Parlmer’s decades of teaching experience for practical nuggets will find themselves disappointed.  Instead, The Courage to Teach is offered as spiritual direction more than professional development.  It’s a rich work that attempts to give voice to the nuanced, mysterious, complex dimensions of teaching that those who care about communicating ideas to others often struggle to articulate.  It was a very satisfying and inspiring read.  I highly recommend it to teachers of all stripes and expressions.

Here are the six quotes from The Courage to Teach that I found particularly powerful:

1. “This book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher. The premise is simple, but its implications are not. It will take time to unfold what I do and do not mean by those words. But here is one way to put it: in every class I teach, my ability to connect with my students, and to connect them with the subject, depends less on the methods I use than on the degree to which I know and trust my selfhood—and am willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning.”

2. “The behaviors generated by fear—silence, withdrawal, cynicism—often mimic those that come with ignorance, so it is not always easy for me to keep believing, when I look at some of my students, that anxiety rather than banality is what I am looking at. I need to keep renewing my insight into my students’ true condition in spite of misleading appearances.”

3. “The way we diagnose our students’ condition will determine the kind of remedy we offer.”

4. “If we embrace the promise of diversity, of creative conflict, and of “losing” in order to “win,” we still face one final fear—the fear that a live encounter with otherness will challenge or even compel us to change our lives. This is not paranoia: the world really is out to get us! Otherness, taken seriously, always invites transformation, calling us not only to new facts and theories and values but also to new ways of living our lives—and that is the most daunting threat of all.”

5. “Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. 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.”

6. “Truth is an eternal conversation about things that matter, conducted with passion and discipline.”


One-Minute Review: “Preaching” by Timothy Keller

I just finished reading Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism.  Here’s my one-minute review:


“What’s ‘Preaching’ all about?”
Preaching is a book designed to help people “present the Christian message of grace in a more engaging, passionate, and compassionate way.”  Notice I wrote people and not pastors.  While Preaching will find a place of prominence in every thoughtful pastor’s bookshelf, Timothy Keller’s book is aimed at anyone who desires to learn how to communicate the Christian faith in a way that challenges and changes the hearer.  Therefore, it’s meant to be a resource for those who teach the Bible in a variety of contexts beyond the pulpit.

“Should I read it?”
Yes.  I can’t imagine a Christian who wouldn’t be deeply impacted by reading this book.  Ironically, Preaching isn’t simply focused on how to preach, but how to unleash the power of God’s Word in an age where skepticism reigns.  It’s an invaluable resource to pastors/teachers, but its discussion about how to get to the gospel from every biblical text is required reading for every Christian.  I especially appreciated Keller’s chapter on preaching to baseline cultural narratives that often keep people from fully embracing the Christian message.

More than a how-to manual on preaching (although it’s imminently practical in this regard!), Preaching is a book that challenges you to read and apply Scripture Christocentrically.  In the process, Preaching reveals how doing so will lead to lives being transformed, beginning with your own.


Speaking at Today’s Teens Conference

Hi everyone,

I’ve been invited to lead a workshop at the 2011 Today’s Teens Conference being held February 26th at The Meeting House’s Oakville site.

Are you planning on attending?  I’ve never been, but a few people I know have gone in the past and said it was an excellent one day event.

I’m one of the morning break-out sessions (11:00am), and I’ve been asked to speak on the topic of helping students share their faith. That isn’t a topic that I feel lies within my expertise.  That being said, as the conference gets closer I’m getting excited about sharing some insights that I think will be very helpful to both students and youth workers.  Evangelism isn’t my strong suit (I’ll talk a bit about why during my session), but over the last year I’ve noticed my heart is pulled more and more towards making the gospel accessible to those who are genuinely “unchurched.”

My session is (appropriately) titled “Helping Students Share Their Faith.”  The first half of my talk will engage the question, “What are we sharing?  What is the gospel?”  The second half of my talk will be sharing practical ways we can connect this gospel (“good news”) message to hearers who have no frame of reference when it comes to Jesus/God/the Bible.

Hope to see some of you there!