Caring about our students

Over at Practical Theory, Chris has a post that I think is important.  He is talking about Citizenship, the Workforce and the Ethic of Care.  Referring to the work of Nel Noddings, he focuses on the idea of preparing students for the 21st Century workforce.  That is a very important issue.  Lehman argues, as I think we all should, that this is too narrow a definition of education.   He calls for education to prepare 21st century citizens who can find their place in the world.  He talk about this as being a way that we show students that we care about them.  On that question, he says, in part:

Noddings argues that so many students don’t think that teachers care about them and yet so many teachers do. What is the cause for this? One of the powerful arguments that Noddings makes is that the standards — and I would argue, standardization — movement has created an objectification of students. We search for the best way to teach some mythological “student” object and then attempt to craft systems where all students are taught that way. What we have done, in the service of worthy ideals, is create a distance between teacher and student and the distance between is a mandated curriculum where the “why” of what we teach is rarely questioned and the “what” is defined in such a way that students end up feeling that teachers care more about the subjects they teach than the students they teach.

Now, I don’t teach K-12.  I am spared the standardization issue that Lehman refers to.  I have no mandated curriculum.   And yet, I wonder if my students all know that I care about them.  Where does the emphasis in my class lie: on the material or on the students?   That is a question I want to think about as I start this week.


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