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William H. Schubert and Ming Fang He

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.


Racheal Banda, Ganiva Reyes, and Blanca Caldas

Curricula of care and radical love encompass a collective and communal responsibility for education practitioners, leaders, and researchers to meet the needs of the historically marginalized communities they serve and of their work toward social change. These articulations are largely drawn from the ontologies, ways of knowing, communal practices, and traditions of the Global South as articulated by Black and Chicana/Latina women. Starting in the 1980s, Nel Noddings’ work around ethics of care sparked philosophical discussions of care within the education field. Educational scholars, including critical scholars of color, have been influenced by care theories that emphasize care as rooted in relationships and everyday interactions between educators and students. Feminists of color and critical education scholars have expanded theories of care in education by pointing out the ways in which race and other social identifiers impact interpretations of care. Even before the work of current care theorists, by the turn of the twentieth century, Anna Julia Cooper argued for a love-politic that decentered romantic love and instead centered a self-determining and emancipatory form of love. This opened a pathway for a radical, Black feminist conceptualization of love. Black feminist scholars have since further developed and expanded upon conceptualizations of a love-politic contributing to a more robust understanding of care and love. Latina/Chicana feminists have also contributed to onto-theoretical insights that highlight how care is a necessity toward critical understandings, personal connections, self-work, and movement building. Concepts such as convivencia and cariño from Latina/Chicana feminists demonstrate how care is co-constructed through relationship building over time and through the sharing of life experiences. Moreover, practices like othermothering and radical love further reveal how intimate and personal interactions are necessary for critical self-growth and communal love toward liberation. From this view, to love and care in ways that advance justice in education requires an expansive approach to curriculum and pedagogy, which includes spaces beyond classroom walls like the home, families, communities, culture, and non-school organizations. Taken together, scholars, educators, and other stakeholders in education may find use in drawing upon feminist of color conceptions and literature of care and love to reimagine transformative possibilities for education research, policy, practice, and curriculum.