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However, Parker Palmer has the knack, probably born of a long and continuing engagement with people in workshops and groups, of exploring such themes in ways that resonate with some very contemporary concerns.To appreciate this contribution it is important to attend both to Parker Palmer’s ‘leading ideas’ and to the particular circumstances in which they found life. Palmer grew up in a white, upper-middle-class suburb of Chicago. Palmer, worked for the same fine chinaware company for 50 years.The Leadership Project, a 1998 US survey of 10,000 administrators and faculty named Parker J.Palmer one of the thirty most influential senior leaders in higher education and one of ten key “agenda-setters” of the past decade. Palmer explores has had a number of distinguished visitors such as Donald Schön and Michael Polanyi on knowing and reflection; and Martin Buber on spirituality, community and education.In that old Quaker phrase he has been able to speak to their condition.Partly this ability flows from the truth of his subject matter; partly from his capacity to draw from, and reflect upon, his own experience; and partly from the directness and accessibility of his writing.Fairly quickly he started a Masters in Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley (1962) and then went on to do his Ph D there (which he received in 1970).In the middle of graduate school Palmer taught for two years (1965-7) – finding that he both loved the experience and was good at it.
The year at Pendle Hill grew into ten or more when he became Dean of Studies there (he left in 1985).
As well as being a gifted teacher, Parker Palmer has authored at least three landmark books – The Company of Strangers: Christians and the renewal of American public life (1983), To Know as We are Known.
Education as a spiritual journey (1983) and The Courage to Teach.
‘It was a much more direct experience of how God was working in my life’ (Faith Alive 2004).
Parker Palmer was also diagnosed as suffering from clinical depression.