William Watson Purkey (b. August 22, 1929) is an author and professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.[1] He is the developer of a communication model called "Invitational Education" and co-founder with Betty Siegel of the International Alliance for Invitational Education. The Alliance is located in the United States and has an international center in Hong Kong [1].


His professional career includes service as a public school teacher, a U.S. Park Ranger, and a bomb disposal specialist in the U.S. Air Force. He was tenured full professor at the University of Florida as well as at UNC.

Purkey received his bachelors, masters, and doctorate from the University of Virginia. During his career, he received awards that included the University of Florida "Award for Instructor Excellence", the Standard Oil Foundation "Good Teaching Award", and the "Outstanding Teacher Award," presented by Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Honor Society. In 1997 Purkey received the "The Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching" given by the UNC Board of Governors.[2] In 2005 he received the "Excellence in Education Award" from the Royal Conservatory of Music for his work in learning through the arts.

An active writer, Purkey has written nearly a hundred professional publications and more than a dozen books. Most recently, he co-authored Fundamentals of Invitational Education with John Novak and From Conflict to Conciliation: How to Defuse Difficult Situations with Novak and John J. Schmidt. Other authors, such as Novak (2002),[3] have expanded the application of invitational theory and practice.

Dance quote

Purkey closed his speeches with the following poem and it has now made it into the public domain.

"You've gotta' dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.
(And speak from the heart to be heard.)”
-William W. Purkey

Although Purkey is the source of this quotation, it has been attributed to many others.
Lines from it were included in the song Come From the Heart written by Susannah Clark and Richard Leigh in 1987. A modification of the quote is also found in the song "Get Fighted" by Canadian post-hardcore band Alexisonfire, appearing on the album Watch Out! released in 2004.

Selected publications

  • Purkey, W. W.; Schmidt, J. J.; Novak, J. M. (2010). From Conflict to Conciliation: How to Defuse Difficult Situations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. ISBN 978-1-4129-7986-3. 
  • Purkey, W. W.; Novak, J. M. (2008). Fundamentals of Invitational Education. Kennesaw, Georgia: International Alliance for Invitational Education. ISBN 978-0-615-18199-8. 
  • Purkey, W. W. (2006). Teaching Class Clowns (And What They Can Teach Us). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. ISBN 978-1-4129-3724-5. 
  • Purkey, W. W. (2000). What Students Say to Themselves: Internal Dialogue and School Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. ISBN 978-0-8039-6694-9. 


  1. Hines, Michelle (April 24, 2006). "Professor’s Book Explores ‘Teaching Class Clowns’ – and Learning from Them". University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 
  2. The University of North Carolina. (April 11, 1997). The Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. Chapel Hill, NC: Author.
  3. Novak, J. M. (2002).Inviting Educational Leadership. London: Pearson. ISBN 0-273-65495-0

External links

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