The Alchemy of Teaching

The Alchemy of Teaching

The Transformation of Lives

Jeremiah Conway

This book is for teachers who want to be reminded that teaching is a privilege, students who want an education that is more than job training, and all who are concerned with the educator’s role.


36 in stock

The Alchemy of Teaching takes readers into the messy, wondrous struggle for human change that occurs in classrooms. Written by long-time college professor Jeremiah Conway, the book contains teaching stories in which he reflects on the insights he and his students have gained from each other. Through engaging narrative, he illuminates the transformative effects of education on the “student from hell” who argues with him constantly, a student diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and a talented student who is just going through the motions, among others. This book is for teachers at all levels who are hungry to be reminded that teaching is a privilege and lives are at stake in it, students who want an education that is more than job training, and all who are concerned with the educator’s role in developing the whole person.

Praise for The Alchemy of Teaching

This small book had a very large impact on me, because it is written - and written wonderfully well - by a master teacher who cares profoundly for students. The Alchemy of Teaching is a book of true stories about real people, beautifully rendered narratives in which teachers will find themselves and their students, as well as insight and inspiration. Please read this book: the lives it transforms might include your own.

—Parker J. Palmer, author of The Courage to Teach

At a time when clamoring pundits and politicos are insisting, nationwide, that college professors need to prove that their courses yield calculable check-off outcomes, and other educational officials predict the demise of face-to-face classroom discussions in favor of on-line, out-sourced, campus - less robo - learning, Jeremiah Conway comes along with his magnificent book, The Alchemy of Teaching, to offer insider stories - call that hard evidence - about actual students and actual classroom interactions, wherein creative, eye-opening, and life-changing learning has actually taken hold. It is an uplifting book, beautifully written and riveting to read, that withstands our prevailing cynicism about higher education. Conway’s wonderful (and wise) narratives teach us about teaching at its best. This is an important and timely book.

—John Seery, George Irving Thompson Memorial Professor of Government and Professor of Politics at Pomona College, and author of America Goes to College

Jeremiah Conway’s book is a superbly written, inspiring journey into the heart of great teaching. What we find on this journey are remarkably moving stories about how education transforms human lives. Conway reminds us of what is central to being a true educator. The book is a must read for those who work every day to make college education as meaningful as it has the potential to be.

—Nils Ch. Rauhut, President, American Association of Philosophy Teachers

When I was first given the privilege of looking into Professor Conway’s book, I was overcome with a sense of greatness here. My kids would say, “blown away.” Here were case studies from a master teacher, stories of students that might guide doctoral candidates, sent out into the world to teach, having never been taught to do so. Conway teaches them, and us, how, and in the best possible way—through example, through story. A natural story-teller, a gifted writer, he pulls us into his experience as do Proust and Melville, and we see how to do it. We are not told, we are not lectured, we are shown, and shown beautifully. This is a book for anyone who teaches, at whatever level, and even—no especially—for those of us who think we already know how. When I finished this book, too quickly over, my overwhelming emotion was this: a deep wish my own children might have been taught by Conway.

—Michael A. LaCombe, MD, FACC, MACP, LHD (hon.), Professor of Medical Humanities, University of New England

I have been a teacher for more than 30 years and I thought I knew a lot about my craft. This book taught me. I learned that it is important to slow down, to look, to listen, and to pay careful attention to what students say and do not say. I also learned—again—that telling stories, especially about real people and their experiences, is a lovely and powerful way to teach. Professor Conway, a gifted educator and writer, uses philosophy, literature, myth, and most convincing of all, stories from his own rich experience as a classroom teacher to open the reader’s eyes to the splendor of human learning and transformation. It was a joy to read this book.

—E. Michael Brady, Ph.D., Professor of Adult and Higher Education and Research Fellow, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Southern Maine

Additional information

Product Format


Page Count

163 pages


5.5 x 8.5 in.