Quotes on Teaching by Parker Palmer

“Relational trust is built on movements of the human heart such as empathy, commitment, compassion, patience, and the capacity to forgive.”

“As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together.”

“I want to learn how to hold the paradoxical poles of my identity together, to embrace the profoundly opposite truths that my sense of self is deeply dependent on others dancing with me and that I still have a sense of self when no one wants to dance.”

“By choosing integrity, I become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who I am.”

“Why does a literary scholar study the world of fiction? To show us that the facts can never be understood except in communion with the imagination.”

Manage Your Carrier

One of the most common questions I hear from graduate students is how to have a successful carrier and prepare for the academic job market. In my opinion, it is not just to be successful in job market but to be proactive and lead academic carrier with high performance. It is the matter of continuously looking for the opportunities that help us grow in professional and personal life. We should try to maintain the right attitude and be flexible as we move through our carriers.

We should have a mind set and know ourselves, our strengths and values, to be successful leaders. Once we recognize what we want, we can be open to global changes and deal with the transitions while sustaining a work-life balance. In this era, we should direct our carrier based on the defined goals and empower our network connections to have a successful interaction with peers.

Ultimately, we should be prepared to face the challenges of the demanding world and be equipped with skills to socially and technically confront the challenges and emerging prospects in our professional carriers.



What is multitasking? Is it beneficial or harmful? Apparently, it is a process in mind to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. From educational perspective, the issue is to define the attitude towards this notion and the way it is assessed in educational systems. How it comes into practices in contemporary life?

It can be explained as a habit that people have in their daily tasks. It implies what issues are more important to deliberately or unconsciously pay attention and what is ignored. Since multitasking is a process that is analyzed in mind, it depends on personalities and mental practices. People are addicted to some habits such as texting while driving, watching TV while talking on the phone, studying while listening to music. In each case of multitasking, we engage some parts of our brain to focus on several tasks and break it off after a time period. Is it waste of mind or addiction to habits. There should be healthy behavior associated with it if we empower our minds to construct knowledge and think of it as a mental discipline.

It is a common sense in our daily activities but educational multitasking includes other perspectives. It gives insights to the practices that are given for granted and are encouraged to be amplified. Learners are moved through these practices and absorbed to and distracted from them.There are different metaphors for multitasking as it is viewed from different perspectives in each task. Learners are supposed to engage with the content and be distracted while they are trying to maintain their connection. It shows personal abilities to have control over mental activities; how learners are navigated between different tasks to learn how to think and how to be engaged with the tasks. If they are deepening into unnecessary issues, they lose their focus and become mentally distracted in various tasks. So, it can be organized to adapt students’ minds in analyzing information as they are receiving it and construct their minds to process practices.

Information Technology Prospects in Higher Education

Information technology in higher education is a tool which help educational systems transform to address current problems and challenges of the future. There are still institutions that haven’t confronted to the challenges of the 21st century. Introductory courses in large classrooms are taught and traditional teaching strategies are employed while there is a need for structural changes in higher education systems. In this regard, the role of information technology is to drive and enable such changes. The problem is not about evolutionary technology but to improve entities as major concerns in transformational technology. It means potentials inherent with a higher education system should be amplified and mechanisms and resources should be adapted to the principles and diversity of the system. Hence, policy and practices are cast in different divisions, to mention:

  • Guidance and pedagogy
  • Paths and swirl
  • Borders and treaties
  • Inputs and outputs
  • Division of responsibility
  • Privacy and analytics
  • Complexity and permanence

Information technology should bring the capacity to confront the institutional goals with the inquiries. It makes experiential learning more feasible implementing technologies that are consistent with the principles and guidelines. In my opinion, technology should be as a common component in pedagogical schemes and nurture diverse learning styles. It should be implemented as an inherent element to the instructional policies and redeem the contemporary pedagogical approaches.

In this era, mission statement of educational institutions is to prepare diverse learners for the global community. This goal is set through different programs to enhance inter-disciplinarily and cross-disciplinarily aspects and help learners come up with the demands of the 21st century. This is a steady movement to alleviate the path and challenge learners with technology transform as an inevitable element to foster information effectively.

The conventions are designed to provide opportunities such as distant learning, studying abroad, technology transforms such as webinars, conference calls and access to electronic resources. In this regard, another issue of concern is digital right management (DRM). Electronic materials require to be maintained in an organized way so it can be accessed or updated at any time. Efficient archives are needed to manage information processing and facilitate learners with easy access to archival data including library resources, course contents and educational guidelines. These resources should be categorized so that students are enabled to access information in an efficient way. This will bring an analytic empowerment to the students to monitor their progress in different programs.

Effective progress is mediated through administrating technology effectively within the policies and practices, identifying the structures, goals and visions to be prepared for the technological demands of the evolving educational systems.

Technology as a Tool for Learning Programs

Digital era has affected different components of higher education systems. It can be discussed from challenges it has brought to scholarship communities to social challenges. One of the notions in this regard is the effect of forming cyber communities in higher education systems. Cyber communities have existed for years as data collection centers, forums with defined goals and objectives and communication centers. In higher education, there are many cyberspace communities to fulfill the preset missions for educational purposes. They cover vast range of communications between different components of the educational system. People spend a lot of time in these cyberspaces to share attitudes and values with the crowd. Transferring connections from real world to the digital arena has its own drawbacks as it may results in misunderstanding, not being clear and precise. Many institutions are developing their communications in the digital arena that covers a diverse range of members and participants. In the direction of providing a more enriched higher education system, digital arena has affected learning strategies such as online courses, distance learning and information transfer. The effect of technology on educational systems is inevitable which needs to be considered for future educational strategies.


How to Design a Course Syllabus

After acquiring knowledge in learner-centered pedagogy, inclusive pedagogy and problem-based learning, we are at an appropriate stage to design a course syllabus. This video is a good source to learn how to design a syllabus. As is mentioned, a good syllabus should function in three ways:

  • Syllabus as a road map
  • Syllabus as an organizational tool
  • Syllabus as a contract


The structure of the syllabus is what is repeated in our coursework each semester. But the question is how many times did we think about the instructor’ perspective within the syllabus. Apparently, there is an intellectual element within the expressions that just smart students would be able to capture. We, as future contributors to educational systems, should grow this habit to analyze the infrastructures of the issues that we deal with in current interactions. It will help us to broaden our view so we are endowed to be authentic self in the subject. This conveys some sort of problem-based learning, as we receive the knowledge and we try to internalize it as we are interacting with peers. Being more and more organized, it becomes part of our character. Hence, in long term it spontaneously appears in our interactions.

It is what an instructor needs to consider in designing a course syllabus. It is like a road map that fosters such elements in learners’ character in a time period. Therefore, the course timetable should be designed to foster the content as they are progressing. It is important to teach students how to think and organize their understanding at each stage with appropriate time management. Once the scope and expected outcomes becomes clear, course policy can be used as a tool to nurture the learning style. Within these different elements, from course description to references and assignments, a specific learning style is transferred from the instructor to learners. Ultimately, implications of an effective syllabus will help the instructor in transferring the knowledge to learners. It is a multi-scale structure that reflects principles of the educational system in the perspective and attitude of learners and instructors as individuals.

Learning Components in Higher Education

To have a general overview of educational inquires, it is worth mentioning that education theory is divided into four subcategories:

  • Democratic education
  • Comparative education
  • Pedagogy
  • Sociology of education

It is an interdisciplinary concept which strands history, sociology and psychology among disciplines to guide, explain or describe educational practices while the theory of education by itself is normative or descriptive.

Now, the issue that arises in these tied conceptual schemes is to postulate a theory that ought to be, or concepts that are verified by observation. Herein, I found a journal named ”Journal of Thoughts” which represent educational viewpoints from the perspective of diverse disciplines (http://www.journalofthought.com/index.php?page=home).

Per our discussion about student engagement in educational systems, we talked about problem-based learning. Other sorts of students’ contribution are project-based learning and performance learning. In these concepts, students construct their knowledge of the subject during the time of engagement along with the desire to participate in.

Each of the mentioned notions in engagement includes educator-instructor as the major components to cultivate conditions that foster these interactions. However, the common characteristic of different schemes is to be student-centered. The focus of the activities is to identify the traits, conceptualize frameworks and develop relationships in a supportive environment.

Inclusiveness for Diverse Learners

In today’s word, academic excellence requires elements beyond those traditionally associated with universities to actively engage individuals in curriculums and in communities to increase awareness. Knowledge and cognition in interactions within institutions envision quality and diversity of inclusive education. One of the elements which reflect striving for excellence in higher education is diversity. This index is fused in structural and practices of higher education such as learning styles and faculty-student social interactions. In this regard, the notion of inclusive pedagogy is emphasized by the educational institutions to advance practices for learners and students as the future intellectuals. Now, the question is to understand a synthesis of the involved issues to make an effective structural design and understanding the barriers towards a successful pedagogical approach in educational systems. There have been several theoretical practices to foster diversity into the content of curriculum. In the realm of program goals, all the elements of a higher education system should be equipped with knowledge and skills in the direction of improving the climate and curriculum transformation.

I was searching for teaching strategies when I came across this notion in teaching which is called scaffolding. Since it was new to me, I included the link as well. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se6a9Q_37t4). Scaffolding by itself is “a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures”. In education, scaffolding is to design the learning process for deeper understanding. Through this learning process, students are guided to promote their skills as receiving support. So, it is a framework to provide the learner with support and explore learning independently. Basically, it is construction of new knowledge.

To promote better learning scheme, diverse range of learners needs to be considered and educational settings should be developed to the effective incorporation of individuals through the process.

Communicating Science

The purpose of communicating science is to aware scientists communicate their work with others effectively. As an example, one should note that when giving a talk, this is not just that person speaking, but the speaker should spontaneously interact with audience. It is accomplished not only by talking clearly, but also adding some extra elements to make it go as you are talking. It includes facial expressions, tone of voice of the speaker and acting. This body language helps to add an emotional content to the talk. Hence, communicating science is not intended to be skillful while giving a speech but also to include other sorts of communication with people. It is even more difficult because of the limited words that can be used to convey the purpose.

I think a successful communication consists of two parts; first is to organize the content and think about how it should be delivered and second is how to deliver it to the audience. In fact, these two parts are inseparable and should be managed during the time of communication.

Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

Digital media is continuously used in formal and informal educational settings, well-set with the advancement in technology. In this regard, digital media addresses the frontlines of what is rapidly becoming an education revolution. The way that technology is used to help students become civically engaged, collaborate with peers and direct their own learning. The creativity to explode digital media in educational environments can be designed in variety of methods to integrate digital practices into curricula to gain media literacy, social networking skills and establish multimedia programs. It is worth mentioning that digital media is not restricted to educators but it has broad application from classroom to library, museum to mall as a mean of communicating, creating and learning. The responsibility of teachers, parents and institutes is to innovative public broadcast services to enhance people’s communication in the 21st century.

Strategic Thinking

Universities are expected to keep up with the advances in different aspects of their society. The gap is constantly growing and changes are inevitable. Therefore, educational institutes are required to be equipped with new models and new thinking strategies to conform to the changes.  In order to be a strategic thinker one should be aware of influencing factors in such a dynamic system, find the extent to which each of them influence the system and generally have an overview of the interconnected network. It is important to note that these elements are interacting within a context. Therefore, it can be viewed two ways; individual-system interaction and system-society interaction. I want to point out to the scales that exist in the system and the diverse range of factors that should be considered. It is interesting how a comprehensive view is required to be a subtle observer and thinker. There is also another contributing parameter which is time dependency in these systems. In every step of thinking, it is necessary to have a view of future and be able to predict factors that may contribute to system evolution such as technology, societal and economic development. It implies a multi disciplinary and cross disciplinary knowledge to comply with different aspects of these dynamic systems.

Interviewing Subjects in Your Research

Being interviewed for a job, you are supposed to answer some questions and use your intuition to have active communication with the interviewer. This notion can be modeled in other tasks while one wants to get input and apply it for further direction. In this post, [http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/interviewing-skills-qualitative-research] the same notion is used in research to increase the quality of data processing and output findings. It talks about how to adjust your perspective when you are interviewing inputs and want to implement them to get scientific outputs. Some of the tips are as follow:

  • Be comfortable with your questions

Ask your questions so that the subject is not lost with difficulties. You don’t have to be very formal but look at the basics instead of making the language difficult. Sometimes, topic is not easy for you and you have to bring it down to a fluent communication between you and your intuition. Of course, it is not a general rule and depends on the type of interview as it varies relatively. After you specify your questions and define their structure, you have to follow and probe them. This dynamic process will lead you to define answers at the end of the interview.

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses

If you are nervous, or not good at eye contact or the subject is harsh be ready to adjust yourself. You should bring this flexibility to yourself in order to have a successful interaction. In this way, a mutual understanding increases the quality of interview. It will help you face challenges during the time of interview. This factor determines the value and the extent to which you will discover facts.

  • Be an engaged listener

Being involved in the process brings increased interaction which help the subject approach you easier. You should engage yourself in the subject so that you will have an intuition inside yourself about what is going on.

  • Don’t interrupt unless you must

Let it go as interrupting the process is against the whole purpose of the interview. As it is going, let the subjects talk and share themselves with you. This way, different issues will grow and will implement their trace into the subject as it is proceeding.

  • The environment counts

Environmental factors can affect your interview, such as location. Recognize the location as is suitable for the type of subject to be introduced. Consider a so called safe zone as allow subjects come into you in a more natural process. Some subjects might be sensitive and easily affected by environmental factors. It is better to consider them at the beginning to make sure they don’t interfere during the interviewing process. Therefore, there should be some sort of compatibility between the environment and subjects to get the question across.

  • No double-barreled questions

Keep things simple. You don’t have to ask difficult questions. Don’t ask question with more than one answer as when you come up with the answer it is not clear which answer is to what question. Categorizing questions makes data processing and interpreting the results easier at any time.