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Creating Significant Learning Experiences, Revised and Updated by L. Dee Fink

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CHAPTER SEVEN

THE HUMAN SIGNIFICANCE OF GOOD TEACHING AND LEARNING

Good teaching can be used to foster better learning. Those of us who work in higher education need to know why better teaching and learning are important because our answer will determine how we respond to the demands and calling of our profession. In my view, we need a perspective that relates teaching and learning to the quality of human life.

In The Courage to Teach (1998), Parker Palmer uses a wonderful metaphor to describe what he tries to do in his teaching: “I [have] learned that my gift as a teacher is the ability to dance with my students, to co-create with them a context in which all of us teach and learn” (p. 72).

Teaching, Learning, and the Dance of Life

I would like to borrow this metaphor and extend it in a way that reveals the fundamental role that learning plays in life. All human beings are in a dance called life. We have all learned some of the steps involved in this dance but there are always new and additional steps that need to be learned. Some of the steps that have to be learned are the same for everyone and are cyclical in the sense that they are the same for each new generation. Members of each generation have to learn some of the same new things, new steps, as we grow and develop through the various stages of life. As youngsters we have to learn how to walk, how to talk, and how to respond to the different statements of our parents. As adolescents, we have to learn how to build relationships ...

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