Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

February 26, 2002

Education Activist, Author Parker Palmer to Lecture at Whitworth College

Parker Palmer, education activist, author of books on vocation and teaching, and senior associate of the American Association for Higher Education, will present a lecture, "Educational Reform from Inside Out," on Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. in Cowles Memorial Auditorium at Whitworth College. The lecture is free and open to the public. Palmer's lecture is the kick-off event for Whitworth's $2-million Lilly Endowment grant, which will allow the college to enhance programs that help students develop a stronger and more satisfying sense of vocation by connecting their gifts and abilities to the larger needs of society.

In addition to his public lecture, Palmer will discuss his personal reflections on faith during the college's weekly chapel service and will make a presentation to Whitworth faculty during their bi-annual Faculty Development Day program. Palmer's work on campus is the first event of Whitworth's five-year, Lilly Endowment-funded project, "Discerning Vocation: Community, Context and Commitments," which is aimed at encouraging students to explore the theological implications of their life commitments and vocational choices.

"Parker Palmer is an educators' educator. He thinks deeply about teaching and learning, and he communicates those ideas in profound and inspiring ways, whether he's writing or speaking," says Tammy Reid, a longtime professor of education who is now vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Whitworth. "We're fortunate as a faculty to have him with us as we begin implementing the Lilly grant and examining how best to mentor students as they think about vocation."

In addition to bringing high-profile speakers such as Palmer to campus, the grant will fund the development of new course content and co-curricular programs related to vocation, new research initiatives, and opportunities for students to engage in mentoring relationships as well as expanded internship, ministry, and service-learning projects.

Along with serving as senior associate of the American Association for Higher Education, Palmer is senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute, a nonprofit foundation that supports research, education and service programs exploring the integral relationships of body, mind and spirit.

As founder of the Fetzer Institute's Teacher Formation Program for K-12 teachers, Palmer has learned from and worked with public-school teachers in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, South Carolina, and Washington state, and has included their insights in his book, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998).

Called a "profoundly moving, utterly passionate, and inspired articulation of the call to, and the pain and joy of, teaching" by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, Palmer's The Courage to Teach explores the premise that good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.

The question "Who is the self that teaches?" lies at the heart of Palmer's book, because, as Palmer writes in its introduction, "It is the most fundamental question we can ask about teaching and those who teach - for the sake of learning and of those who learn." By addressing this key question, "We can serve our students more faithfully, enhance our own well-being, make common cause with colleagues, and help education bring more light and life to the world," Palmer says.

Palmer received a B.A. in philosophy and sociology from Minnesota's Carleton College, where he earned a Danforth Graduate Fellowship. After a year of study at Union Theological Seminary, he went on to earn a master's degree and a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. He served as the Eli Lilly Visiting Professor at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, from 1993-94 and has taught at Beloit College, Georgetown University, and Pendle Hill, a Quaker living-learning community.

In addition to The Courage to Teach, Palmer's books include Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999); The Promise of Paradox; The Company of Strangers; To Know As We Are Known; and The Active Life.


Tammy Reid, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3702 or treid@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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