one way to set the table in honor of influences

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 01/01/2016


Nel Noddings – Shelling peas and inquiring about God – Liberal education

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 03/27/2013

Conversation as Moral Education – Nel Noddings


…We do not think that studying the Great Books or any other canon will necessarily make our students better people, and we reject the haughtiness of those who think their knowledge is Knowledge. However, confusion arises because the questions raised in traditional liberal studies still seem central to human life. We feel that education — real education — cannot neglect the questions, Where do I stand in the world? What has my life amounted to? What might I become? … What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? What is my place in the universe?

It is true that these questions arise and are explored in impressive ways in the great works associated with liberal education, but they may also be asked and explored in other settings. Zane Grey’s cowboys ask them while riding the range under starry skies. Old ladies in their rocking chairs, shelling peas or knitting, ask them as the evening cuts off the light of a summer day. Lone fishermen standing on rocky jetties in the Atlantic twilight ask them. Moreover, studying what great thinkers have said about immortal questions is no guarantee that one will be more honest, decent, loving or even open-minded. Without mentioning names, I can easily think of four or five superbly educated persons (all of whom deplore the condition of the American mind) who are themselves incapable of hearing or responding generously to views that differ from their own. Again we have a performance gap.

Thus I believe a grave mistake is made when we argue for the traditional liberal studies as the arena in which immortal conversations must take place. Specialization has killed much of what was liberal in liberal studies…. But the questions remain, and teachers today should muster the courage to discuss them.

Nel Noddings – Caring

Posted in Uncategorized by dilettanteventures on 04/09/2012

“The one-caring, then, is not bored with ordinary life…the one-caring finds new delight in breakfast, in welcoming home her wanderers, in feeding the cat who purrs against her ankle, in noticing the twilight. She does not ask, ‘Is this all there is?,’ but wishes in hearty affirmation that what-is might go on and on…Now one may ask just how the celebration of everyday life contributes to the maintenance of the ethical ideal. First, of course, as we have seen, such celebration turns the one-caring in wonder and appreciation to the source of her ethicality. It is for the most part in ordinary situations that  we meet others for whom we shall care and who care for us. Second, celebration of ordinary life requires and is likely to enhance receptivity. The magic of daily life may be missed by one who constantly seeks adventure and ‘something new.’ Celebration of daily experience provides opportunities for engrossment, for complete involvement in living”

“It is not necessary that I, a concrete moral agent, actually attain my ideal – surely, I shall fail repeatedly – but the ideal itself must be attainable in the actual world. It must be possible for a finite human being to attain it, and we should be able to describe the attainment. The attainment must be actually possible; that is, if I am faithful and energetic and fortunate, I should be able to attain in my actual relations with actual persons. I should not be diverted into abstraction and the endless solution of hypothetical problems.”

“…moral problems not as intellectual problems to be solved by abstract reasoning but as concrete human problems to be lived and to be solved in living.”

“The father might sacrifice his own child in fulfilling a principle; the mother might sacrifice any principle to preserve her child.”

“If rational-objective thinking is to be put in the service of caring, we must at right moments turn it away from the abstract toward which it tends and back to the concrete. At times we must suspend it in favor of subjective thinking and reflection, allowing time and space for seeing and feeling. The rational-objective mode must continually be re-established and redirected from a fresh base of commitment. Otherwise, we find ourselves deeply, perhaps inextricably, enmeshed in procedures that somehow only serve themselves; our thoughts are separated, completely detached, from the original objects of caring.”

“In part, our approaches to creativity and care are induced by the dominating insistency on objective evaluation. How can we emphasize the receptivity that is at the core of both when we have no way of measuring it? Here we may ultimately decide that some things in life, and in education, must be undertaken and sustained by faith and not by objective evaluation.”

“There are times when we must stop thinking in order to make sensible connections with the object field. Neither the joy nor the receptivity of which we have been talking is passive; both are active but not manipulative, not assimilative.  They do not strive to impose structure, but they open all channels to perceive it. They represent an opening-up and a taking-in.”

– Nel Noddings in Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics & Moral Education

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