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.
Barbara J. Thayer-Bacon
Dialogic education is a relatively new force in educational theory and practice. Despite the variety of approaches to dialogic education, it nonetheless offers a coherent theory of education with implications not only for how education should be practiced but also for the purposes of education. Dialogic education takes place through dialogue which means opening up dialogic spaces in which different perspectives can clash or play together and new learning can occur. But dialogic education is not only education through dialogue, it is also education for dialogue, meaning that as a result of dialogic education learners become better at learning together with others through dialogue. The intellectual background of dialogic education theory goes back at least as far as Socrates and includes thinkers as varied as Freire, who saw dialogic education as a means of liberation from oppression, and Oakeshott, who understood education to be a process of engaging learners in their cultural inheritance, described as “the conversation of mankind.” Bakhtin, an influential source for recent dialogic educational theory, argues that meaning requires the clash and interaction of multiple voices. There are a range of approaches to implementing dialogic education, varying in the extent to which they focus on teacher to student dialogue, small group dialogues, and whole class dialogues. All approaches include some idea of (1) a dialogic orientation toward the other, characterized by an openness to the possibility of learning, and (2) social norms that support productive dialogue. Published assessments of the impact of dialogic education in relation to general thinking skills, curriculum learning gains, and conceptual understanding have been positive. However, the assessment of dialogic education raises methodological issues, and new methodologies are being developed that align better with dialogic theory and with the idea of measuring increased dialogicity, or expanded “dialogic space.” Assuming that dialogic education works to promote educational goals, various hypotheses have been suggested as to how it works, including some that focus on the co-construction of new meaning through explicit language use, others that focus more on changes in the identity of students, and others on changes in the possibilities of engagement afforded by the culture of classrooms. There are many issues and controversies raised by dialogic education. One issue is the extent to which dialogue as a goal is compatible with a curriculum that pre-specifies certain learning outcomes. Another is the extent to which teaching a set of social norms and practices promoting dialogue might be a kind of cultural imperialism that fails to recognize and value the culture of the students. These and other challenges to dialogic education are part of a lively and constructive debate in the field, which values a multiplicity of voices within the broader context of convergence on the value of teaching through dialogue and teaching for dialogue.
Petra Munro Hendry
Within contemporary, conventional, interpretive, qualitative paradigms, narrative and curriculum theorizing have traditionally been understood as primary constructs through which educational researchers seek to explain, represent, and conduct inquiry about education. This article traces shifting understandings of Western constructs of narrative and curriculum theorizing from a modernist perspective, in which they were conceived primarily as methods central to the representation of knowledge, to postmodernist perspectives in which they are conceptualized not as epistemological constructs, but as ethical/ontological systems of becoming through/in relationships. Historically, the emergence of “curriculum” and “narrative” (as phenomena) within a modernist, technocratic paradigm, rooted in an epistemological worldview, were constructed as “technologies” whose purpose was to represent knowledge. Current critiques of narrative and curriculum theorizing from the perspective of postmodern, poststructural, feminist, and new materialist perspectives illuminate understandings of these constructs as ethical-ontological-epistemological phenomena. From this perspective, narrative and curriculum theorizing have shifted from being understood as grounded in epistemology in order to provide “better” understanding/knowledge of experience, and alternatively are understood as ethical obligations to “be” in a web of relationships/intra-actions.