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Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect

On the Lives and Education of Children

Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio

Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect presents a wide variety of concepts from scholars and practitioners who discuss pedagogies of kindness, an alternative to the «no excuses» ideology now dominating the way that children are raised and educated in the U.S. today. The fields of education, and especially early childhood education, include some histories and perspectives that treat those who are younger with kindness and respect. This book demonstrates an informed awareness of this history and the ways that old and new ideas can counter current conditions that are harmful to both those who are younger and those who are older, while avoiding the reconstitution of the romantic, innocent child who needs to be saved by more advanced adults. Two interpretations of the upbringing of children are investigated and challenged, one suggesting that the poor do not know how to raise their children and thus need help, while the other looks at those who are privileged and therefore know how to nurture their young. These opposing views have been discussed and problematized for more than thirty years. Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect investigates the issue of why this circumstance has continued and even worsened today.
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Chapter One: Public Education and the Ethics of Care: Toward a Politics of Kindness?

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CHAPTER ONE

Public Education AND THE Ethics OF Care

Toward a Politics of Kindness?

RACHEL K. BRICKNER



During the Wisconsin Uprising in February 2011, a protest against proposed legislation that would curb collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers, some protestors carried signs that said, “Care about educators like they care for your child” (Schwartz, 2011). This effort to insert care into the debate about the controversial legislation did two things. First, it called attention to the fact that education is a caring profession and that schools and individual educators are entrusted with the physical, emotional, and intellectual care and nurturing of students. Second, it was a call to recognize in political discourse and policy the skill, professionalism, and importance of public educators. In what was a contentious political mobilization, these protestors’ “call to care” can be understood as a politics of kindness—an effort to shift away from the punitive and humiliating discourses and policies that characterize the neoliberal era and root them instead in empathy with others and with an eye toward what is necessary for all individuals to flourish.

Neoliberal approaches to public education have reconceived education in terms of a market model and promote policy reforms through discourses of humiliation that belittle and shame students, educators, and schools that fall short of market expectations. In what follows, I argue that to effectively resist neoliberal reform, public education advocates must engage in new...

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