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The purpose of this paper is to explore P.J. Palmer’s theory of “courage to teach” as well as the implication for teaching
and learning.
Methods of philosophical hermeneutic are employed to investigate important works of Palmer.
According to Palmer, fear of teaching is caused by the fact that instructors are not able to know their true self. Another
significant cause lies in the ignoring of different personal values and lifestyles between students and teachers. To reduce
the fears related to these differences, students and teachers alike make use of rationalized teaching and learning
strategies to control their subjective feelings. In this way, students and teachers seek ways to increase safe distances
between them, but end up resulting in alienation. In order to improve this situation, Palmer suggests that teachers work
to keep the epistemology of love as their starting point. He also suggests that teachers open their own hearts to vanquish
those fears, which cause us to excessively protect ourselves as well as to face with courage the paradox and fear existing
between ourselves, society, nature and the universe. Only in this way will students and teachers provoke each other into
reflecting the limitations of their own personal values, knowledge and experience, allowing each individual’s reason,
emotions, and spirituality to be brought into the relationship between the knowledge and ethics of great things.
This study holistically explores Palmer’s theory of “courage to teach” as well as his extended notion of fear and courage
within both teaching and learning. The results showed higher reference values for instructors and learners to cultivate
their habits of the heart, to expand their organic interpersonal connections and to broaden the boundaries of their


Author Description: 
Associate Professor, Department of Adult & Continuing Education, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Hsu, M.-H. (2016). P. J. Palmer’s theory of “courage to teach” and its implications for teaching and learning. Contemporary Educational Research Quarterly, 24(4), 145-174.
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