In The Courage To Teach, Parker Palmer uses this Bill Stafford (former poet laureate of Oregon) poem to open a chapter titled A Culture of Fear.

Lit Instructor

Day after day up there beating my wings

with all of the softness truth requires

I feel them shrug whenever I pause:

they class my voice among tentative things,

And they credit fact, force, battering.

I dance my way toward the family of knowing,

embracing stray error as a long-lost boy

and bringing him home with my fluttering.

Every quick feather asserts a just claim;

it bites like a saw into white pine.

I communicate right; but explain to the dean—

well, Right has a long and intricate name.

And the saying of it is a lonely thing.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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