Between Constructivism and Connectedness

Sep. 01, 2008

Source:  Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 59, No. 4, 322-331, September 1 (2008)

Parker Palmer is correct in his claims that good teaching depends more on the capacity for connectedness than on technique and that helping teacher candidates cultivate a strong sense of personal identity is crucial. However, to what extent are Palmer's claims compatible with the various constructivist models of learning that are now prevalent in many colleges of education? Moreover, how are the goals of Palmer's approach integrated with those of constructivism? This essay responds to these questions and negotiates between constructivism and Palmer's educational approach.

First the author lays out a predominant constructivist model of teaching and learning. Next, he explores some potential limitations facing constructivism and argues that Palmer's notion of connectedness can help mitigate against some of the shortcomings of constructivism. Finally, the author examines a specific example from an English methods course that represents an attempt to integrate the virtues of Palmer's approach with those of constructivism.


Palmer, P.J. (1998). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher's life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, P.J. (2003). Teaching with heart and soul: Reflections on spirituality in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 54, 376-385.

Updated: Oct. 29, 2008