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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Twenty-Three: Nel Noddings, The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education (1992)


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Nel Noddings, The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education (1992)

Lynda Stone


Nel Noddings’s The Challenge to Care in Schools, first published in 1992, is an early example of her extensive writings that combine theory and practice for schooling and societal reform. It has a unique place in her work, having introduced the interaction of the major strands of ethics and curriculum change in a text aimed at practitioners through ideas that would mold her illustrious career as a philosopher and educator. It also demonstrates the significance of Noddings’s theoretical style, what I want to call a “personable philosophy.” This has made her work understood, recognized, and very much appreciated by a widely diverse audience worldwide.

This chapter incorporates key elements from Challenge (Noddings, 1992) organized to replicate categories for review found in other chapters in this reader: cultural and educational context, book synopsis, strengths and weaknesses, and influence and relevance. Given her own orientation toward education as a philosopher and within a personable philosophy, I have slightly re-cast the sections, entitling them: first, “Persistent Present”; second, “Text Organization and Content”; third, “Unique Contribution and Critique”; and fourth, “Personable Philosophy.” While the final section briefly draws together Noddings’s singular philosophical style, each section is theorized and presented as a representation of a personable philosophy. “Personable,” of course, is typically applied to persons who are attractive, pleasant, and nice...

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