?The Hidden Wholeness? is the idea that in everything there is unity and integrity a fire burning in each and everything that connects things, all sorts of different and mysterious things. Palmer believes that having polarities and paradox?s is necessary. When you look at a polarity or a paradox there is a neglected pole or side, and we are trained to neglect one side. We are trained to listen to only one side instead of with both ears. He believes that this is because we are too competitive and that we look at the world through analytical lenses. ?We see everything as this or that, plus or minus, on or off, black, or white; and we fragment reality into an endless series of either-or?s.? (pg62)
Palmer believes that these things are needed in the classroom, but instead of seeing them as either-or?s we need to look at them as both-and?s.
Space should welcome both silence and speech: Most people believe that words are the only way of exchange in teaching and learning. But silence gives us the opportunity to reflect upon what we and others have said and heard. In a sense silence is a sort of speech that we have with ourselves, a sort of monologue we have with ourselves. A conversation that allows you to reflect, think or talk to yourself.
When you observe a group of typical size, they can tolerate silence for approximately fifteen seconds, before someone will break the silence. This is because the silence is causing tension in the group and they feel the need to break the tension. They also feel that the only way the tension can be released is by breaking the silence. Behind all of this is fear, fear is what creates the tension. Fear is interpreting the silence as something gone wrong. People feel that they aren?t progressing if there is silence. Therefore they feel that talking will progress the group onto other important and worthwhile things or goals.
What many people, teaches and students alike forget is that in true education silence is not frowned upon. Here teachers and students know that there is monologue or reflection occurring during silence. Silence is not a bad happening, that will repress or delay the desired outcome. In fact silence is a trusty learning plate for learning of the deepest sort.
The space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group: In order for any space to encourage learning it needs to invite students to find their true voice. It must allow students to express their truest feelings, even if they are not appreciated or accepted by the rest of the students. Learning will not happen when students will not express their ideas, emotions, confusions, questions, ignorance?s and prejudices. When people are not speaking their minds, learning will not take place, it will be false. The only way true learning will take place is when students feel free to speak their minds.
A teaching and learning space cannot be a place for only individual expression. It needs a place where it invites the voice of a group. Where a group voice can be gathered, challenged, and questioned. The voice of the group will help correct the voice of the individual. Without the group voice the individuals ignorance?s and prejudices will go uncorrected.
When the voice of a group is expressed it is the teachers job to listen to what the group is saying. It is very important for the teacher to be a listener and not a dominant voice and repeat back to the group what the group is expressing. This allows the group to hear their voice and reflect on what they?ve said and to develop new ideas or change its own collective mind.
There is a unique paradox involved when talking about the individual and group voice. It is effectively described in a situation that can happen inside or outside of the classroom. Decision making by consensus: A consensus is reached when all of the people in a group agree on the same idea, thing or concept. In order to reach an agreement the group has to listen to the voice of the individual. As things progress a shared or joint voice will begin to emerge through individual efforts within the group. The group makes assertions on each individual, compelling them to neither give in or remain defiant but to seek out and speak the groups truth more thoughtfully. When you combine a learning space with this paradox you create a space in which students will learn their subject, learn to speak their own thoughts about the subject and learn to listen and seek for an ever changing collective wisdom that will ultimately evolve their own thoughts