The Ethics of Care
Nel Noddings Care Ethics in Education 7
Nel Noddings Care Ethics in Education A substantial literature on care ethics has developed over the past twenty- five years, and related articles now appear in a wide range of professional journals. Virginia Held (2006) has provided a fine summary of the work in philosophy and feminist thought. The literature on care ethics in educa- tion has also grown profusely (Eaker-Rich and Van Galen 1996; Noddings 2005, 2009; Pang 2001; Schussler and Collins 2006; Shel 2007). However, a misunderstanding of caring occasionally and persistently appears. There are those who think that caring is somehow at odds with intellectual com- petence and critical thinking because it emphasizes feeling and moral sen- timent. In fact, the ethic of care requires a high level of both. In this brief chapter, after a short introduction to the basics of care ethics, I will con- centrate on the connection of care theory to teacher competence and to critical thinking. Basics of Care Ethics Care ethics is a relational ethic. Instead of emphasizing individual moral agents and the principles to which each must adhere, it concentrates on the dyad, (carer, cared-for). Relation is ontologically basic, and the caring relation is morally basic. All of us begin life in relation, and it is within relation that we become recognized individuals. Care ethics, then, is pri- marily interested in the caring relation. The relation is prior even to the description of caring as a virtue; a person may be described as ‘caring’ if that person regularly establishes and...
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