"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, August 09, 2014

What's Troubling about Nel Noddings' Interview at Chalkface

I listened to Shaun Johnson's interview with Nel Noddings, and it was obvious that both interviewer and interviewee were prepared for different interviews.  After spending a good chunk of time before the interview making a case for his continuing the show in the absence of former co-anchor, Tim Slekar, Shaun sort of got into an introduction to Nel Noddings that encouraged listeners to get one of her books (no titles mentioned) and to read "a couple of chapters."

In fact, I wish Shaun had read a couple of chapters before the interview, for what followed was a wobbly unfocused complaining session that never got any deeper into Noddings' thought than the unexplained label, the "ethic of care." The ethic is a care is a way of being in the world, and all of its beautiful intricacies were left packed in a suitcase that was never opened.

While Shaun seemed to want to steer the interview toward wheedling a solution to CorpEd reforms, it was clear that Nel is still stuck out there with her Enlightenment delusion that if she can just become a bit more rational, then the fascist ideologues, corporate thugs, and profiteers will become humane enlightened gentlemen and ladies.   How many more polite books does she plans to offer up that pretend the corporate socialist war against democracy and its institutions does not exist? HELLLOOOOOO!

The saddest part of the interview was NOT that Nel Noddings never got a chance to explain what the ethic of care is or how the ethic of care could work in schools, although a great opportunity was missed last week.  The saddest part wasn't even that Nel does not know what to do exactly to stop the slicing and dicing of public education.  The saddest part was that Noddings seemed to think that the only alternative to just saying yes to the fascists would be to take up arms against them.  "We are not violent people," I think she said.

Does Noddings really think the only way to resistance would be through violence?  Does she equate non-violent resistance and civil disobedience as a form of violence?  Or has she just forgotten that all the gains of the 1960s came through non-violent resistance and civil disobedience?  Is she satisfied to remain depressed, rather than to risk action to save what she cherishes most??

Would she be unwilling to use her rich network of influential intellectuals, academics at AERA, and researchers around the world to map out a strategy of resistance and rebuttal, rather than remaining silent and sad and stuck between the pages of another polite treatise that ignores the death of democracy?  Is she unwilling to climb down from her airy Aristotelian ledge and get into the fray to save what is quickly disappearing?  Does she believe her grandchildren don't need her to get out of her comfort zone and raise some hell in their names?  Does she believe that anything less than the future of humanity is at stake?

And if she needs a book to read that offers some intellectual tools to use for the nonviolent war, should she choose to join it, that must be fought if children are to become anything other than robots, try this one by Nel Noddings.  I highly recommend it:


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