Practicing Care and Compassion
- William H. SchubertWilliam H. SchubertUniversity of Illinois at Chicago (Emeritus)
- and Ming Fang HeMing Fang HeGeorgia Southern University College of Education
To understand the practice of care and compassion in education and curriculum it is necessary to begin with its contextual sources in a diverse array of spheres: historical, religious, social, and educational theory and practice. The legacy of practicing care and compassion in education is embedded in the history of human civilization and the multiple meanings of care and compassion in the Western and Eastern worlds and in the Global South, including dominant cultures and those they dominated. The contributions of women to the understanding and practice of care and compassion in education have been underemphasized, as well as those by unofficial educators, who are not governed by nation-states or wealthy institutions that dominate those who rarely experience care and compassion. By the mid-1800s, an array of cultures and nations began to see a need for public education that attended to all citizens and not just the elite. At the same time, science had become a prime mover in consideration of education and questions were raised by Herbert Spencer and others about what and how knowledge should be selected for members of society. Eventually, a range of ways to conceptualize education were introduced, making curriculum development a site of debate.
The practice of care and compassion must be integrated into the development and design of curriculum. Thus, it is important to present curriculum orientations that facilitate the practice of care and compassion. Those who wish to practice care and compassion in education should begin by studying time-honored and still practiced orientations by Ralph Tyler, Joseph Schwab, Paulo Freire, John Miller, Daisaku Ikeda, Nel Noddings, and Martha Nussbaum. The work of these curriculum scholars illustrates the ways in which care and compassion can be incorporated into the practice of teaching and learning. For example, Tyler offers an empirical-analytic perspective; Schwab provides a practical or eclectic approach; Freire provides a critical reconstructionist or radical love orientation; Miller proffers holistic possibilities; Ikeda advocates and exemplifies dialogic and value creation; Noddings calls for a feminine basis for caring; and Nussbaum invokes the intelligence of emotions.
Those who wish to teach care and compassion must heed caveats raised by scholars who address individuals and groups who suffer the most, including the so-called wretched of the earth as well as those who have experienced imperialism and colonialism or have had their culture and history removed. Deep and abiding questions must be asked about how care and compassion for these oppressed persons, who make up the majority of the world’s population, can be taught and learned.