Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Education. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 30 January 2023

Exploring the Contributions of Sara Ruddick, Nel Noddings, and Ayya Khema to Care Theory and Peacebuildinglocked

Exploring the Contributions of Sara Ruddick, Nel Noddings, and Ayya Khema to Care Theory and Peacebuildinglocked

  • Barbara J. Thayer-BaconBarbara J. Thayer-BaconUniversity of Tennessee, Knoxville

Summary

In the Euro-western world, caring is not a new concept in the fields of philosophy or education; we find examples of writings concerning caring that date back to Ancient Greece. Caring, associated with emotions, has never held as high a status as “reason” in Euro-western, male-dominated philosophy. However, there are exceptions that stand out, such as pragmatist John Dewey’s sympathetic understanding and existentialist Martin Buber’s deeply spiritual I–Thou. Attention was drawn to caring in the 1960s and 1970s due to humanistic psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Milton Mayeroff. Feminist work on caring began building strength during this same time frame, although it can be dated back to Jane Addams’s educational work with immigration families at Hull House, Chicago, in the 1890s, and her peace activism during World War I, which resulted in her receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. As more women were offered the opportunity to earn college degrees, a space opened up for considering what women might uniquely have to offer to their various fields of study. Care theory in the 1960s and 1970s sought to bring out important ways of knowing associated with care work, which included domestic care (care of homes, families’ health, emotional and physical well-being), and fields of study and work focused on caring such as nursing and teaching. The 1980s and 1990s brought further development of care theory and expansion by scholars such as Carol Gilligan, Sara Ruddick, and Nel Noddings, as well as strong critiques by other scholars who worried that “caring” was honoring the relational work women do by overgeneralizing women, ignoring race and cultural differences, for example, by essentializing women and not recognizing gender differences, by being exclusionary of nonchildrearing women who are not care workers in the home, and by ignoring men who do this kind of work, and more. It is important to give a generous description of the earlier work, consider key critiques, and care theorists’ responses to these critiques, for the strong response by scholars to postcolonial, postmodern, critical race and queer theories’ critiques was to devalue care theory.

It is also important to note that attention to care theory is returning. Philosophers of education are responding to more recent [since 2000] student assessment trends by reclaiming the importance of teachers’ diverse caring relationships with students, as well as students’ caring relationships with each other and toward their environment. Ecological concerns are bringing a focus back to care theory that is deeply rooted in humans’ connections to nature, given women’s fundamental physical, reproductive, and maternal roles. Care theory continues to contribute to peacebuilding efforts around the world, through a relational ontology that starts with the assumption that we are all born with relationships with our biological mothers, adoptive families, and extended communities. With each child born comes the renewed hope of peace. As can be seen, due to the size of this topic, we must be selective in addressing particular aspects while pointing the reader to other sources they may want to turn to for more insights.

Subjects

  • Educational Theories and Philosophies

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Access to the full content requires a subscription