I believe the second paradox proposed by Parker Palmer works in concert with the first paradox. “The space should be hospitable and ‘charged'” while being bounded and open. People “feel free to speak, but their speaking is always guided towards the topic … the open space is liberating [as it is] inviting, as well as safe and open” (p. 77). The negotiated contract is a covenant built through trusting and honest relationships where participants find their voices. “The space must also be charged. … No special effects are required to create this charge – it comes with the territory. We only need fence the space, fill it with topics of significance and refuse to let anyone evade or trivialize them” (p. 78).
I believe lessons learned from Finland’s educational experience, therefore the topics of significance here, was recognizing public education is a fundamental human right for each child and providing equal and unfettered opportunity for each child. Through open and safe conversation, implementation strategies uniquely suited to each community is revealed. People respectfully share their views in a safe, bounded, expansive, and invigorating space where they feel welcomed and honoured. The space honours each person’s truth as each person, in turn, respects the truths of others.
What can we do to create this space?
Palmer, P. (2007). The Courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.