Between Constructivism and Connectedness

By Gordon, Mordechai | Journal of Teacher Education, September-October 2008 | Go to article overview

Between Constructivism and Connectedness


Gordon, Mordechai, Journal of Teacher Education


In an article in the Journal of Teacher Education, Parker Palmer emphasized the importance of educating the soul in schools in general and in teacher education programs in particular. Palmer (2003) lamented the lack of attention given in schools to the spiritual dimension of our being:

   I have seen the price we pay for a system of education so fearful
   of soulful things that it falls to address the real issues of our
   lives, dispensing data at the expense of meaning, facts at the
   expense of wisdom. The price is a schooling that alienates and
   dulls us, that graduates people who have had no mentoring in the
   questions that both vex and enliven the human spirit, people who
   are spiritually empty at best and spiritually toxic at worst. (p.
   379)

For Palmer (2003), cultivating the spiritual dimension of our beings has to do with forging connections with something larger than our egos, such as relations with other human beings, with the world of nature, with a literary text, or with a cause aimed at making our world a better place to live.

Palmer (2003) is certainly not alone in his belief that self-knowledge and establishing relationships, meaning, and spirituality are all missing from education today; other theorists and educators like Nel Noddings, William Ayers, Alison Cook-Sather, and Ron Miller share his concern. For instance, Noddings (2006) wrote that "possibly no goal of education is more important--or more neglected--than self understanding" (p. 10). Ayers (1995) insisted that genuine learning is not primarily the passive ingestion of information, but "requires assent, desire, action; it is characterized by discovery and surprise" (p. 5). Cook-Sather (2003, p. 95; 2006, p. 9) pointed out that when students learn, they not only construct knowledge, but they also construct and transform themselves. Finally, Ron Miller (1997), one of the staunchest advocates of holistic education, claimed that

   by dwelling on discrete facts rather than wonders and mysteries, by
   standardizing learning processes and assessing them quantitatively,
   by turning children away from their passions and intuitive
   insights, and in many other ways, modern schooling cuts the child
   off from knowing the world in its wholeness. (p. 80)

The concern with cultivating our spiritual dimensions and with forging connections is not new in Palmer's writings. In his famous book, The Courage to Teach, Palmer (1998) had already addressed these issues in the context of his discussion of good teaching:

   Good teachers posses 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. The
   methods used by these weavers vary widely: lectures,
   Socratic dialogues, laboratory experiments, collaborative
   problem solving, creative chaos. The connections made
   by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their
   hearts--meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place
   where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge
   in the human self. (p. 11)

I share Palmer's (1998) conviction that the capacity for connectedness is more integral to good teaching than technique and that when teaching is reduced to technique, something fundamental is lost. When I first started teaching in an undergraduate teachers college in Israel many years ago, several veteran professors advised me to "be very strict with the students and to lay down the law from the very outset so that they don't take advantage of you." Not having much experience of my own at that point, I initially followed these professors' advice and tried to portray a tough, no-nonsense persona to my students. The problem was not only that I felt uncomfortable in this persona but that my students recognized fairly quickly that I was not being authentic and therefore resisted my trying to teach them. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Between Constructivism and Connectedness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.