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Disrupting the practice of the elementary school administrator: a reflection on Noddings' challenge to… Grunlund, Cathy 1998

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Disrupting the Practice of the Elementary School Administrator: A Reflection on Noddings' Challenge to Care by Cathy Grunlund B.Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1985 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF M A S T E R OF ARTS in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Educational Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1998 © Cathy Grunlund, 1998 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department o f ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) A B S T R A C T Nel Noddings in her book The Challenge to Care (1992) presents a philosophy based on an ethic of care and a theory for educational practice that is at once intriguing and satisfyingly resonant. While Noddings describes her notion of caring in terms of practice it is clear that Noddings is grounding this in a philosophical framework rather than in the real and current life of schools. The problem I have attempted to address is whether or not caring, however logical it may appear in my mind, is a reasonable ethic to consciously incorporate into the art of educating children. Specifically I looked at the practice of the elementary school vice-principal by reflecting on my own experience and my attempts to live arid model caring as an important way of being with children and adults who work and learn in schools. I came to this investigation from a point of dissatisfaction with many of the accepted ways of acting within the practice of educational administration. This work is written in the style of story. Noddings' ideas have been taken and situated within the context of my experience and analyzed through narrative. Relevant research has been brought to bear to help support or critically discuss concepts. Chapter 1 discusses some of the problems I saw as inherent within the world of educational administration and of my search for alternative action. Chapter 2 attempts to conceptualize caring in a manner that will make it more comprehensible to educational practitioners. Chapter 3 looks at caring in practice, specifically discussing Noddings' i i notion of moral education. How caring fits into the larger discussion of moral education is discussed in Chapter 4 with caring being placed in relief to other ethical approaches as they relate to education. The final chapter discusses the implications for educational leaders who would like to work towards a more caring approach to the education of children. It is my hope that educators who read this story will be tempted to disrupt their practice long enough to think about the moral issues inherent in the roles of teachers and principal teachers. The point I have tried to make is that these moral issues are not purely philosophical in nature but have significant impact on the lives and moral development of real children in our schools. i i i T A B L E OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T " T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S IV C H A P T E R 1 1 CARING DISCOVERED 1 C H A P T E R 2 21 CARING CONCEPTUALIZED 21 C H A P T E R 3 45 M O R A L ACTION AS MORAL EDUCATION 45 Modeling 48 Practice 50 Confirmation • 52 Dialogue 57 Administrator Behaviour and Moral Education 61 C H A P T E R 4 69 CARING CHALLENGED 69 iv Noddings and Deontological Approaches 75 Noddings and Teleological Approaches 82 Noddings and other Feminist Approaches 92 Some Final Thoughts on Jason 98 C H A P T E R 5 1 0 3 ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE TO CARE 103 Modeling ... 104 Dialogue 107 Confirmation HI Practice • • 114 Discipline Personal Reflection 122 Concluding my Story 123 REFERENCES 1 2 8 V Chapter 1 Car ing Discovered The parent in my office was crying. She felt utterly hopeless and helpless. I was her last hope at effecting change for her daughter in what was fast becoming an emotionally toxic classroom. "I have tried to talk to the teacher but he's not listening to me. I don't want to become the cause of ruining someone's career but my daughter is having nightmares now and doesn't want to come to school. She used to love school. " The parent in my office was crying. He was angry; at himself for losing control of his emotions, at me for being witness to it, and at everything else connected with the school. "I want my son moved! You better not let me see that teacher because I'll kill him!" A parent crying in my office or threatening bodily harm was not among any of the simulated problems I had encountered during my short, school board initiated, administrator orientation sessions. It was, however, to become a commonly encountered problem during my first four months as an elementary school administrator. I need to tell a story. A story that, while it did not begin with the two experiences above, certainly encompasses those snapshots, among many more. This is a story of striving to become "wide-awake to the moral life"(Greene, 1978) of my professional 1 practice; a practice that shows an awareness of the multitude of moral dilemmas that surface on a daily basis. It begins, as with every good story, at the beginning, but will not travel in a smooth, uninterrupted line to the end. During the telling of this story I will need to stop and reflect on the choices I have made and the directions I have taken, as well as predict possible outcomes for decisions I have made and will make. When I reach the end but stop; that may be assuming too much as I believe my story, as with anyone's story, will carry on beyond the confines, the unavoidably rigid structures of paper, covers, and type. However, when I reach the end of this work I hope to have been able to put many of my experiences into some kind of structure for readers to use in their own search for "wide-awakeness." As I previously stated, my story will begin at the beginning, but where is my beginning? Do I start mid-way through my teaching career when I was starting to feel concern around issues and dilemmas that had impact upon my classroom? Do I begin during my first year of teaching or even back in teacher training when I really was not aware of the inherently moral nature of teaching? Since I will be speaking of moral practice it does seem to make sense to start well back even to the point when I did not know that everything I did, and did not do, in my classroom was a moral action. In spite of that, however, I am going to begin my story at the point in my career when I was first appointed as an elementary school vice-principal. I am choosing to start there as my discussion of moral practice will centre around the work of the educational leader. I will be discussing the moral practice of educational administrators in their job as educational 2 leaders. I wil l , therefore be drawing on some of my experiences as a teacher-leader, as well as an educational administrator, as these will certainly have bearing. This is my story, but it is not a story created in isolation. It is a story that has developed, and is still developing, through my encounters with people, ideas, readings, situations, and discussions which were alternately heated, frustrating, and more often, enlightening. I cannot tell the actual story without the permission of all the parents, teachers and children involved, which would not be feasible. So, I am basing my story on actual situations but using imaginary encounters and incidents which are consistent with my experience. In September of 1995 I began my new position as an elementary vice-principal. Somehow I became "important." The look of respect and admiration in many people's eyes when I told them "what I am" was some kind of strange fuel to the soul. What I soon realized, however, was that the tank was a one-time fill only and quickly ran dry. Reality, thankfully, rapidly set in. The responsibilities, both explicit and implicit, were enormous. My most important, challenging, and exciting responsibility was also the most intangible. I did not have a word for it yet, but it involved being aware of people and their needs, desires, wants, strengths and foibles, to mention only a few aspects. I now understand that the responsibility I felt so strongly but could not articulate in any coherent way was a moral responsibility. While I knew before I became an administrator that the job was more than making sure that the office ran smoothly and the children did not spend their recesses trying to beat each other up, I was unaware of the subtleties and complexities of the position which 3 would show itself in the myriad of things I was called upon to do. I was called upon to discuss with a staff member his manner of speaking to children. I was called upon to address another staff member's comments about children, comments which had been spoken in the staff room. I was called upon to facilitate the repair of a badly damaged relationship between a teacher and a parent. Who asked me to deal with these situations? No one in the building, that is for certain. It seems, in retrospect, that I was called on by my own sense of what was acceptable and desired behaviour for people working in a school. I felt that I could not ignore sarcasm spoken to children by an adult, even i f it was supposedly "in fun." I could not ignore the lack of respect demonstrated by a staff member when discussing children, even in the "privacy" of the staffroom. I absolutely could not ignore the breakdown in relationship between a teacher and a parent because the ramifications for the adults, and especially the child, were too huge, even i f it would have been easier to say "that is their problem, they need to deal with it." These are just small examples of what I was starting to see as my moral responsibility. When I first used this word, moral, I shuddered. For me the connotation of moral was negative. It brought to mind images of duty and obligation without thought for the effect of actions. It brought to mind thoughtless rules and the righteous application of them. It brought to mind hurt in the name of principles. These images had been partially established when I was still a child being brought up in a blended family, that while not considered religious, was very rule and role bound and valued so-called traditional personal virtues. I was the only girl of four children and it was very clear that there were different sets of expectations, rules and consequences for me just by virtue of being 4 female. The attitude of "there is a certain right way to do things", particularly i f you are female, was pervasive and one with which I was constantly doing battle. I lost, of course, but it planted the seed in my mind that defining particular ways of acting as good and right, were not always so. I was continually looking for the flaw in any "good action" to support my notion. I do not want to leave the impression that my childhood and adolescence were rough. Not at all. I do not think that my experience was very different from many women growing up in my time. The point I am trying to make is that I had developed a set conception of what moral behaviour was and it had an impact on my ability to examine a notion of moral that was not constrained by the number of good deeds accomplished in a day. I was prepared to listen and add to academic discussions of what is moral but I was not prepared to incorporate its—in my mind—negative influences. Fortunately, I eventually lost my own semantic battle with the term moral. Readings and discussions forced me to rethink what I meant by moral; I discovered that my experience with what is moral had been extremely narrowly defined. It was a revelation, particularly when I realized that I did not have to compromise what I felt constituted ethical behaviour in order to intelligently discuss someone else's notion. I also did not feel married to the current notion I held, but knew that I could allow it to evolve and change, when and i f necessary. It was as I had long suspected. There was no universal agreement as to what defines moral or ethical action. There was only a continuous exploration of what others were writing about and a self-questioning of my own behaviour and attitudes, and their effect on others. Morality eventually became, for me, something that was impossible to 5 avoid since education, and life, is moral. I was seeing this every day when I was at work in my school and I was beginning to recognize the ethical dilemmas that cropped up each and every day. Interestingly, the recognition that the regular problems I had to deal with were in actual fact, ethical dilemmas made my job seem easier....well, slightly clearer anyway. So, I no longer questioned whether ethics and its attendant moral considerations were a part of my practice; they were. How one decides to define moral action became the bigger question in my mind. Socrates' question "How should one live?", and educate, I would add, began to consume me. Why would this be so? As I mentioned earlier, there is no agreement as to what moral behaviour is all about. This very fact means that there is no answer, and a million, to Socrates' question. I had to decide for myself what I believed in and how I was going to actualize and justify those beliefs. But....I knew that just holding strong beliefs did not necessarily make them good. I had to examine why I held those beliefs, what my underlying assumptions were for believing in what I did. I had to be able to clearly articulate to myself and to others my understanding of education and how that interacts with what I believe to be moral action. No small job. My greatest fear, however, was that I would be able to speak about and beautifully defend those beliefs and not be able to put them into practice. It is not enough to talk about what is moral, one has to act for it to be of value. In order to exemplify what I have been saying I need to go back to the two snapshots with which I started this chapter. As an administrator in this situation, my dilemmas were many. I had an ultimate responsibility to the children involved. If I felt 6 that my moral obligation ended there then my response to the parent would be easy: begin a process of getting rid of the teacher. But, did my moral obligation not extend to the teacher himself? Had I made any effort to understand this teacher's behaviour and attempt to work with him? If so, were my motivations based on care for this person, or on making sure that I had followed all the right steps in order to finally get rid of him? If I had not made the effort to understand him, why not? And what of the parent? Where was my obligation here? Was it enough that I act on behalf of his child, or do I attempt to understand the parent's anger, upset and conflict in order to better choose a morally acceptable action? And what of the other children and staff members in the school? Undoubtedly they were being affected by the conflict occuring in and out of the classroom. Did I have a moral responsibility to them as well when trying to decide the right thing to do? It is probably becoming clear that an approach based on consideration of all the available information, thinking about how my actions may affect others, and one which retained a strong humanistic perspective was going to work best for me. Accepted administrative practice of the type that valued precedents and policy was not going to help me decide a course of action that would satisfy all of my concerns. This was when I began to question the Tightness of accepted practice. Even so, what I ended up doing was "by the book" because this was the only roadmap into uncharted territory that I had available at the time. This book provided me with all of the policy of the district which was intended to drive my practice. While my action was by the book, it did not always feel right because many of the questions that I had posed for myself were not answered or even acknowledged. This concerned me greatly. My 7 attempts at discussion with colleagues were unsuccessful in that those colleagues were extremely supportive of my actions and kept telling me that I was doing a marvelous job of dealing with the situation; I was doing everything "right." I put the word, right, in quotes because this is an example of how the slight difference in meaning impacts so 1 much on practice. My colleagues were using the word in terms of rules and process. I was not making any procedural mistakes, therefore I was right. I, on the other hand, was more concerned with whether I was doing the right things; whether I was behaving in a morally defensible manner. Part of the problem is that, as administrators, we are often faced with taking a rigid stand due to district policy, established labour practice, and parental pressure. I was being put in the position of being champion for the "good guys" and slaying the "bad guys." In the case of the situation I have been discussing, the parents and their children became the good guys, the teacher became the bad guy. I was very uncomfortable with this, but everyone kept telling me that this was "right." I was overwhelmed by the personal conflict that this one situation set up within me. On the one hand I was being congratulated for a job well done, on the other hand I was having a hard time looking at myself in the mirror because of what had been done to the teacher. I felt that I had been made an accomplice in a potentially soul destroying action (for the teacher involved and in many ways for myself) and that the only justification for it was that I had followed all of the rules. I almost decided to quit and go back to teaching. I did not quit however, and carried on through to the end of my first year as a vice-principal. I left school for the summer with a need to make sense of the many experiences I had encountered and dealt with in the previous year. I had been 8 congratulated on my skill, but I was personally unsure as to whether I had acted ethically. (Ethical was not the word I would have used at the time though as it, like moral, was not a working part of my professional vocabulary.) That summer I returned to university to continue with coursework towards my Masters degree. Up until this point I had been struggling to find sense and meaning—for me—in many of my readings and discussions. I was unable to find anything that touched me on a personal level. This was to change. Over the course of the summer I took three courses that helped change my pattern of thinking and forced me to look at myself, professionally, as an agent of my own beliefs and values rather than strictly an agent of school board policy and past practice. I realized that in that shift I had taken on a heavy responsibility, for I had to be very clear what my beliefs and values were, why I held them, and whether they were good. I had to look at my underlying assumptions for the actions I took in the name of education. I had to start at ground zero in clarifying and developing my understanding of what education is. In short, my brain was given a good spring cleaning. It was a humbling, although I have since realized not unusual, experience to discover that after eleven years of teaching I could not articulate well to myself, or anyone else, what I truly belived in and what education meant to me. It was not so much that I did not have a firmly held set of beliefs or a philosophy of education that meant something to me, it was more that I had never been asked to make those things explicit in public discussion or intimate dialogue. I had beliefs, values and assumptions that had never been challenged. I quickly discovered that it is very easy to feel right when no one asks you "why?" or challenges your actions or thinking. 9 This idea of having my ideas and beliefs challenged became important to me because it helped me keep tabs on my own ethical behaviour. When I had to speak of my beliefs and values I had to think of my own practice to help illustrate what I meant. In using examples from my own practice I was then able to evaluate my action against what I was espousing and check to make sure that there was a fit between the two. Unfortunately challenging each other's notions is not highly valued in the world of education. In fact it is quite often seen as an attack on an educator's autonomy or, at the very least, downright rude. So, I need to now review where I am in this story. I began with a new job. A job that came with a very thick rule book that did not seem to be working for me in my attempts to solve the problems no one told me I would inevitably encounter. There was confusion. No one else seemed to think the rule book was inadequate. There was frustration. I had supposedly done a good job in resolving a particularly nasty personnel issue yet I felt awful about it, which almost caused me to quit. There was a rest. During this time I was exposed to dialogue that grabbed my attention. I came to understand my practice as moral action. I read many authors who were struggling with the same things I was. I discovered one particular author who spoke to me as none of the others did. When I first read Nel Noddings it was like reading my own.mind. Everything she had to say made enormous sense to me. Noddings spoke to my concerns around how we treat each other and how formulaic responses, no matter how accepted, rarely do justice to the other. Noddings spoke of ethics and moral action in terms of caring rather than strictly based on rules and principles. Her approach seemed warmer and more human 10 than what I had been exposed to before. The questions I had raised for myself concerning the situation I spoke about earlier were questions Noddings probably would have asked too. Noddings spoke in the voice of a teacher, a leader, a woman, a mother, and simply as a person who cares. This had been what was missing for me in the approaches I had been taking before in terms of solving ethical problems: care for the other. This is not to say that I did not care for the people I was involved with, it is just that I did not think that my personal feelings were supposed to have much of a place in moral deliberation. However, in reality, I broke that rule regularly and often allowed myself to act in a caring manner regardless of policy or the practice of others. It was wonderful to find out that there were other people who felt as I did about education and the treatment of people. I have, since that first encounter with Noddings' work, read almost everything she has written. While I have many questions and a few concerns about some of what she says, I still feel that her theme of caring is a critical component that too often is missing from many children's educational experience. This I find distressing. Noddings, in her book The Challenge to Care in Schools: A n Alternative Approach to Education^ 1992) addresses this very concern. Noddings sums it up quite nicely when she says: At the present time, it is obvious that pur main purpose is not the moral one of producing caring people but, instead a relentless~and, as it turns out, hapless-drive for academic adequacy. I am certainly not going to argue for academic inadequacy, but I will try to persuade readers that a reordering of priorities is essential. A l l children must learn to care for other human beings, and all must find an ultimate concern in some center of care. (1992, p.xii) 11 Nel Noddings speaks of caring as an ethic. This term, an ethic of care, was first coined by Carol Gilligan in her influential work In a Different Voice(1982). Gilligan conducted her research in response to Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral development, advancing the notion that perhaps women approach moral issues in a manner quite different from that of men, or at least in a manner different to that proposed by Kohlberg. Noddings takes this idea, expands upon it and sets it in the realm of education. Noddings takes her own notion of caring and describes it and its application to schools in detail. Noddings agrees with Gilligan that women's experience does shape how they approach moral issues, however, she also feels that many men approach moral issues in much the same way. Noddings believes that the memory of being cared for and the experience of caring for others have far more impact on the growth of a good person than does gender. Educational organizations have been, and for the most part still are, run on a model based on traditionally male experiences. This is not surprising given that women have only recently been appointed, in meaningful numbers, to positions of educational leadership that also involve authority. Women are still absent in large numbers from senior management positions, which of course, has impact on policy directions and implementation. As a result, school and its attendant bureaucracy tend to stress the moral principle of justice, which often translates to a rigid system of rules and procedures. I am certainly not arguing that this accurately reflects an ethic of justice, but some interpretations of justice seem to lend themselves to rigidity. In my experience this system has set up an expectation in the minds of parents and the public that problems will 12 be solved in a certain way: a quasi-legal judicial manner where everyone is treated identically and precedents have great power. This expectation has caused many difficulties for me as an administrator since I do not believe that we can treat all children identically; it would not be caring if, for example, a rule was made that lighting resulted in immediate suspension. My own feelings about suspension aside, I could not, in all conscience suspend a child who would get hit at home or would be left unattended all day, as a result of the suspension. Yet the rule says and, all must be treated the same are phrases that have become part of the value system in many schools. "Consistency" has become the buzz word, but for many it is being defined only in terms of consequences (read punishment) or, even worse, not being defined at all but instead is espoused as a magic bullet that will surely solve all conflict with students and parents. Consistency, for me, means that the school can be counted on to be a safe, predictable, and caring environment. Noddings feels that operating under a system of rigid rules with lack of flexibility for individual situations can negate the power of caring and run the unacceptable risk of devaluing the individual. I agree. As I continue my story, in later chapters, I will discuss how Noddings1 notions of schooling, education, and the concept of caring have influenced my thinking. After spending some time reading Noddings I began to realize that it was not just the large issues of who is right and who is wrong in disputes and disturbances of every kind that I needed to be thinking about. I needed to be taking a hard look at attitudes and systemic values that affect how schools are run. One example that may help illustrate 13 what I am talking about is to take a look at some of the common phrases used in education, generally to justify or persuade. I had always felt a vague feeling of unease; a dissatisfaction when I had heard terms such as "in the best interests of the children" and "educationally sound." What I discovered after more reading and thinking was that the above noted terms have often been used by powerful people to get what they want. When someone says that a particular decision or action is in the best interests of the child it is hard to argue without being perceived as being against the best interests of children. This was a term that was used when I was embroiled in the situation I have referred to throughout this chapter. It was commented on that the actions I was taking were in the best interests of the children. I wanted to ask "What about the best interests of the teacher?", but I could not for it would have sent the message that maybe the children were not my prime consideration. This is nonsense, of course. I believe that it is possible to consider everyone's best interests. Whether or not I am able to satisfy those interests is something else, but at the very least I should be able to voice my concern. Bernard Williams discusses the term "for the best." He states that "...the best is measured by the degree to which people get what they want, are made happy, or some similar consideration"(Williams, 1985, p.8). Too often educational decisions are made not in the best interests of the child but in order to get what is wanted by that particular person. This is not always bad, but I cannot emphasize too strongly that the responsibility lies with educators to look for and discuss the underlying assumptions that cause others, or ourselves, to utter the terms "educationally sound" or "in the best interests of the child." Adopting an ethic of care (taking care, of course, that it too does 14 not become a meaningless slogan), I have come to believe, forces one to do just that. When deliberating choices and making decisions an ethic of care focusses on the person, or people, involved (Noddings uses the term "other") and not just on the problem per se. Perhaps in the situation of which I was speaking, the teacher was seen not as a person, but as a problem. This, to me, is wrong. As I became more involved in what I was reading I became more intrigued with the study of ethics. Noddings' notion of an ethic of care stood out for me as a theory that might have an interesting and powerful impact on my own practice. It seemed to me that many of the other writers in the field of ethics were concerned with discussing the "big stuff such as slavery, murder and major human rights issues. I had a difficult time seeing how what they were saying could be applied to the ordinary day-to-day issues that occur in schools. I was also not comfortable with the seemingly rule-bound nature of many of the other ethical theories that I had encountered. I am not saying that rules and principles are terrible things, (and they are certainly not the same things!) it is just that I did not feel that they should be the only determiners of a course of moral action. Where I needed to go next was to look carefully at my own practice to determine why I did the things I did and where Noddings' notion of caring fit in. Once I decided that this was the area on which I wanted to focus, I then had to begin the task of asking myself some hard questions. The most important of these was, how will my adopting an ethic of care have a positive influence on education in my school? If what I am doing does not, in some way, count educationally then is it just an interesting academic exercise? Once I became convinced that what I was doing did have 15 merit educationally, I then had to begin thinking about how a school administrator would go about adopting an ethic of care in a school. I was going to need to figure out how I would battle or, at the very least, influence the strength of a long established culture in any particular school. I did say that my story would not travel in one continuous line, however, neither do I want to give away the ending before its time. Suffice to say, at this point, that the mission I had chosen to accept, while not impossible, would sorely try my skills and often my belief in the power of a culture of care. There are many things I hope to accomplish through the telling of my story. First, and foremost, I hope to understand how to begin to create a public space for teachers, and other adults working with our children, to confront moral issues and talk about what counts as education. I would hope that this public space would begin to address the practices that get in the way of caring for children. It is also my hope that my own practice will become more intentional; a practice that shows my understanding of what I am doing and why am doing it. Why do I hope for these things? I hope for these things simply because I believe that as educators we have become far too detached from the reasons why we went into teaching in the first place. We need to go back to our original motivations, rediscover them in some sense and bring them to bear on what we know now. I firmly believe that the vast majority of educators came into the profession because of a feeling of caring about children and the education of children. The few who came to teaching for reasons that did not include caring for children would, undoubtedly, find the public space I am describing a terrifying place. Perhaps though, those educators would then be forced to take a long, hard look at their own practice and maybe effect some 16 change. Perhaps others would have to reevaluate their professional goals and choose another career more in keeping with their original motivations. Whatever the case, it is vitally important that educators discuss, in meaningful ways, what education and caring for children means to them and their practice and that they work towards making intentional (a self-awareness of what it is that the teacher wants to do and, more importantly, why that person wants to do it) that part of their practice that they see as good for children. Without intentionality we will continue to stumble along, sometimes getting it right, sometimes bungling it badly, but never too sure how to increase the positive and decrease the negative. I will pause here, in my story, for a moment. For this story to make any sense to me or anyone else I need to return to my original motivation for writing this. What was it that caused me to embark upon, and to continue to pursue, this line of study? I believe that it had to do with the feeling I was getting in my work that some accepted ways of behaving were not really acceptable at all. Yelling at and belittling children, which was what was happening outside the frame of the snapshots with which I began this chapter, is an example of such behaviour. While it is hard to understand how this kind of behaviour could in any way be acceptable, I have heard educators using time-honoured justifications for engaging in this type of action. I have heard statements such as, "If I don't keep that student in line all the others will think that they can get away with it too." I wondered how this absolves anyone of responsibility towards a child's sense of self. So much damage has been done in the name of discipline. I was beginning to feel strongly that, as 17 educators, we need to shift our priorities back to focussing on children as people who need to feel cared for and who need to learn to care for others. Teaching is a moral activity. The challenge comes in helping the adults in the school recognize that everything they do in relation to children and each other has a moral component. One way of facilitating this recognition is to encourage dialogue that is meaningful, that reaches to the heart of what we mean by education. As educators we need to strive for an understanding of what it means to be a teacher, of what it is we are trying to accomplish with children and, most importantly, why. This kind of dialogue, by its very nature, can be perceived as frightening for many teachers. The onus will then be placed upon the administrator to create a safe place for the dialogue to begin and to model the type of revealing of oneself and one's thoughts and beliefs necessary to begin the dialogue. Simply speaking, I am talking of a type of discussion whereby teachers do not feel that they are being judged or evaluated but truly listened to and regarded. A n administrator can foster a climate for this dialogue by opening up discussion based on his or her own worries, concerns, or need for feedback on his or her own practice. By doing this the administrator also sends the message to other educators in that school that he or she trusts them enough to take the risk in discussing, and desiring reaction to, issues of personal import. My story. Where will I go with it now? I will be telling of my excitement with the concept of caring; its usefulness as well as its problems. I will try to help the reader come to know Nel Noddings and try to see why I feel that what she has to say is so important. I will tell of my struggle to keep my mind open to the writings, thoughts and 18 beliefs of others; both in their work to develop various ethical theories and in criticizing the work of Noddings. My story will need to carry the reader into the world of my school and my practice as a principal teacher concerned with the moral education of children and how I envision an ethic of care to have an impact on that world. In this chapter I have tried to present the problem facing me in my practice. The problem I refer to is that of connecting educational leadership with the moral education of children. In other words, how can I, as an educational leader within the role of vice-principal have a positive impact on the development of children's moral character? In Chapter 21 will attempt to present caring as a viable and logical form of moral education in school. In order to make sense of this thing called caring I will work at presenting a conceptualization within the framework of my story. Chapter 3 will look at caring in practice. Again through story I will outline the four aspects of moral education as Noddings sees them: modeling, dialogue, practice and confirmation. I will then try to connect the practice of caring with that of educational administration. How caring fits into the larger discussion of moral education will be discussed in Chapter 4. Caring will be placed in relief to other approaches which will then be tested, within the context of my story, to ascertain the relative merits of each approach in an educational setting. The final chapter will discuss the implications for educational leaders of a caring approach to the education of children. This caring approach will take into account the unavoidable systems and structures of schooling that will present barriers, though not 19 insurmountable, that the administrator committed to a caring approach will have to contend with. 20 Chapter 2 Caring Conceptualized It was day three of the school year in my second year as an administrator. A parent walked by the office, caught my eye and broke into a huge grin. "Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!! "she hurled at me. I must have looked slightly confused which caused her to giggle with glee. 'Thank-you so much for putting my daughter with Mrs. Smith, she is absolutely wonderful!" With that the parent left still grinning from ear to ear. Needless to say I was pleased that the parent was ecstatic over her child's placement. I was also, quite frankly, somewhat perplexed. Mrs. Smith was an enormously talented teacher, there was no doubt about that, but then so were the other two teachers who taught at that particular grade level. What was it, I wondered, about the teacher that delighted this parent (and others, it soon turned out) so much? I made a point of being in Mrs. Smith's classroom as much as possible in order to try and unearth the answer to this mystery. The mystery was solved very shortly. What I observed was that Mrs. Smith cared. Did this mean that the other teachers did not? No....but Mrs. Smith cared in a way that seemed to be different. I took it upon myself to investigate more thoroughly exactly what it was that set Mrs. Smith apart, albeit in a subtle way, from the others. I had been reading Caring (1984) by Nel Noddings and started to recognize that many of Mrs. Smith's behaviours fit very well with what Noddings described. Mrs. 21 Smith had adopted an ethic of caring. Did she know this? In her own mind she knew that what she was doing felt right, but she had never before encountered Noddings or the particular vocabulary Noddings uses to describe caring and its attendant relation to the cared-for. I knew this because I had asked her. How would Noddings describe Mrs. Smith's form of caring? How would she conceptualize it so that we can see easily what caring is and what caring is not? Conceptualizing caring is difficult. The very word, care, seems such a simple one and certainly all would, at some level agree that it is desirable as a component of our life experience. Where the simplicity ends and the clarity of the explanation tends to become a little murky, however, is when caring is conceptualized as an ethic and as a way of being. With the help of Mrs. Smith (let's call her Susan) I will try to work through Noddings' conception of caring and pull stories from my own practice and what I have observed from Susan's practice to help illustrate what Noddings means by caring. Motivational displacement, engrossment, carer, cared-for, relation, attention, reception, recognition, response, action, attitude These words and many more are part of the scaffolding Noddings uses to describe and define caring. A l l of these are important words to Noddings but what do they really mean? What do they look like when seen in my practice? What do they look like when seen in Susan's? The best way for me to try to explain caring is to return to my story; to share experiences and discuss where caring fits. 22 I began this part of my story with many happy parents and a personal search for the source of their joy. I discovered.... well, rather than reveal what I discovered let me allow the story to set the context. The discussion will more logically occur after. A new student arrived in Susan's class. William came with red flags and warning bells from his previous school district. The file was filled with professional jargon predicting doom and wishing faint hope for his new school. I was disturbed by the tone of much of the communication which, to me, smacked of defeat and at times loss of respect for a seven year old child. Susan did not share my unease. I had begun to notice that Susan was never concerned about children entering her class. To her, each entry was a fresh beginning with an expectation that within each child was a potential that only needed discovering and confirming. I admired her seemingly innocent belief in the best of each child. At the same time, however, I was constructing my game plan to support Susan in dealing with William's horrendous behavioural outbursts. They were certain to come, his previous school made that very clear. Three weeks passed; I was becoming a little exhausted from this extended period of mental "red alert" in order to be ready whenever William decided to blow. It took a few more days before I came to the conclusion that perhaps William was not going to blow. In fact, William had caused no behavioural concerns whatsoever in the time he had been with us. "Honeymoon period," I said to Susan. "Nope," she said to me. "Why not?" I countered. I was still determined to believe the file. After all, the other school must know William very well, he had been with them for two years. Susan fixed 23 me with a look of practiced patience that I knew many of her students had received when they were wildly off-base and needed gentle steering back on course. "Because," she began, "William does not need to engage in tantrums of any kind in my classroom." Susan went on to explain that she focussed a great deal of her energy, when William first arrived, on finding out who he was and what he needed. Susan was very quick to point out that she was not talking about academic need. That, as far as she was concerned, was at the bottom of the priority list. She believed, rightly it seemed, that William's well-documented violent and disruptive behaviour was his way of trying to become visible in a world where he kept disappearing. William was a child with a multitude of problems, emotional as well as academic. Everyone William encountered in his schooling career had emphasized fixing what was wrong. Susan went in search of what was right and made that part of William visible for the world to see. This was not to say that William was suddenly and magically without difficulties. Hardly. William was a seriously troubled boy who could barely read or write. Numbers were a bafflement to him. He seemed to be able to make friends, but rarely kept them for longer than a day or two. Susan, however, kept looking for that potential in William which was better; that part of him that he could share with pride and contribute to his classroom as a member. Susan was right. William did not need to engage in any kind of hurtful behaviour in order to be noticed. He was made to feel worthwhile by his teacher. Interestingly, William's classmates appeared to follow Susan's lead, somewhat. Children can be vicious and cruel to those who are different from them (so can adults; children are just less 24 subtle). The children in William's class, while they did not embrace him wholeheartedly and unconditionally in their play, did not harass him unmercifully either. They were, however, quick to join in on celebrations of William's successes. Noddings talks of motivational displacement and engrossment as the state of conciousness experienced by the carer in a caring relation. What does this mean?! According to Noddings engrossment means, " open, nonselective receptivity to the cared-for"(1992, p. 15). She goes on to interpret motivational displacement as "...our motive energy ...flowing toward others and their projects. I receive what the other conveys, and I want to respond in a way that furthers the other's purpose or project" (1992,p.l6). In Susan's case it means that her attention, her driving force, turns aways from herself towards William and begins to concern herself with what William needs and wants and how to bring that about. Susan experienced motivational displacement and engrossment when she refused to accept William's predicted behaviour as a fait accompli and searched for the better self that she knew was there. Without fully immersing herself in caring for William, Susan would probably never have seen William as much more than the sum of his undesirable behaviours. This was a big part of the problem in William's previous school. Educators, particularly specialist/experts, have been trained very carefully to discover children's problems, give the problem a name, and then formulate a plan of attack to eradicate the offending problem. A l l of this is done in good faith and for the sake of the child. The danger in this kind of approach—as the only approach—is that the child, himself or herself, can become lost in the process. The focus rests squarely on the 25 problem and less so on the child. The underlying assumption is that i f the problem is wiped out then the child will be "better." Susan's approach is somewhat different. As is mine. As is Noddings'. When operating within the structure of an ethic of caring, the child comes first. When William walked into Susan's classroom Susan did not immediately look for a diagnosis. Susan immediately looked to see who this child was. Hannah Arendt speaks of the "disclosure of'who' in contradistinction to 'what' somebody is—his qualities, gifts, talents, and shortcomings, which he may display or hide—is implicit in everything somebody says and does"(Arendt, 1958, p. 179). Traditional schooling philosophy values, as Arendt describes, "what" somebody is. Caring values first, "who" somebody is. Susan illustrated this by refusing to be swayed by William's documented shortcomings and searching for, instead, the person that William is; "the better self (Noddings, 1992, p.25) that Noddings speaks of. In order to do this Susan needed to experience a full receptivity, an attempt to understand, who William is and what his needs are. Noddings (1984, pp.3-5/1992,pp. 15-20) would say that Susan is in relation with William and that this relation is the building block of the caring encounter. Noddings believes that in order for caring to occur action is required of both parties, the carer as well as the cared-for. The action of the carer is characterized by motivational displacement and engrossment; the action of the cared-for is characterized by reception, recognition, and response. What does this action, what do these words, look like in the case of Susan and William? 26 Susan attempts to engage in a caring relation with William. I say "attempts" as she wil l not know whether she wil l be able to complete the caring encounter until she sees i f there is some kind of response from William to her overtures. When Susan experiences motivational displacement she turns her mind from activities and concerns of her own, to that of the cared-for; in this case William. This does not mean, of course, that she drops everything at any moment to rush to William. This experience could be momentary, it could be extended; but it will never be permanent. Let me describe a scenario, from my own practice, to help explain. Once a week I would teach in Susan's classroom in order to provide Susan with preparation time. During this forty minute block of time I would teach mathematical problem-solving. On this particular day the group of us were about to tackle the mysteries of probability. I had a game-type activity planned that would allow the children to explore, and then later discuss, probability. Before they could independently carry on with the activity however, they needed approximately ten to fifteen minutes of instruction. My attention at the time was directed towards a number of different things: the awareness that 7 year-old attention spans may not extend to fifteen minutes, the need to be clear and concise in my instructions, checking for the attention of the children to what I was showing them. During one of my attention checks I could see that William (at this point newly arrived in the school) was engaged in a kind of wiggle dance in his desk. He was obviously not attending so I simply directed him back to where I wanted his attention to be. He was not going to fall for that though and pretty soon had his whole desk vibrating 27 from the force of his wiggles. My attention rapidly moved in another direction from where it had been and focussed on William. I quickly surmised that William was not following, with any understanding, what I was explaining to the class. Leaving him to wiggle in his desk was not going to be helpful to him or the others around him. Moving him elsewhere in the room or even to the hall was not a viable option for me. I chose to bring William up to the overhead to be the recorder of my data. It was a job that required little understanding of the concepts involved (he would need individual instruction on those at another time) but it was a job that allowed him to make a contribution that was appropriate. It took into account William's needs—to be noticed and feel a part of the group activity—and acted upon those needs in a caring manner. My attention was directed towards William for less than a minute, but in that time I was able to become engrossed in his feelings and needs and respond to them. Would it not have been quicker and easier to just remove William for disrupting the lesson? Perhaps, but it would not have been caring. I cannot end this scenario here as it has only illustrated one side of the caring encounter; that of the carer. Noddings is very clear that the contribution of the cared-for is necessary before it can truly be called caring. Why? Why can we not just go around caring for others regardless of any kind of response from them? Noddings feels, and I concur, that this type of action can best be described as caring as an individual virtue (1989, p.238) that does not take into account the needs of the other and that is demonstrated, oft-times, in order to be credited for caring. This person may be more concerned with having their own needs met than the other they purport to care for. The i 28 so-called caring person in this type of virtuous behaviour may presume to be taking the needs of the other into account, but they do not know for sure as they have neither requested nor expected a reaction from the other. If they do receive a response from the other it may, or may not, sway the caring person from the path that they deem to be "in the best interests" of the other involved since the "virtuous one" is calling all the shots. This, for Noddings, (1992, p. 17) is not what is involved in a caring relation. my scenario William must play a crucial role as the cared-for. What exactly would characterize his behaviour as reception, recognition, or response? William did not respond to, recognize, or receive my initial request for his attention to my lesson. There was no caring encounter. However, when I suggested that he come up to the front as my assistant the response was immediate. William's eyes lit up, his face broke into a grin, and he quickly scrambled up out of his seat to a spot beside me. How else might William have acted in order to show me that he was receiving my attempt at caring? He may have declined my offer to him but tried harder to pay attention to the lesson. He may have smiled at me and shaken his head; he may simply have stopped wiggling. What is important is that he appeared to recognize my attempt at caring; he allowed himself to be receptive to it, and he responded in some way. Through that brief caring encounter I was able to confirm a better self in William and meet his immediate needs, not the least of which was escape from the pain and embarassment of lack of understanding. A l l well and good, the reader says, but what is the result of caring; of the action of the carer and the cared-for? Why is caring a better way of being in schools? These 29 questions wil l be answered more fully when I speak of the impact of caring on my practice in a later chapter. I believe, however, that these questions are too important not to be dealt with now, at least in the context of the current story. Let me return to Susan and William's story and explore the results of caring in this case. Probably the greatest result of caring, for William, has to do with what Noddings terms confirmation^ 984). William arrived at our school with a conception of himself as a trouble-maker. He also had labelled himself as dumb. Susan would not accept that description as a definition of who William is. Noddings would say that Susan set out to " a better self and encourage its developmental 992, p.25). Noddings goes on to say, "We can only do this if we know the other well enough to see what he or she is trying to become"(1992, p.25). This is why Susan took the time she did to build a relation with William; to try and unearth what it was he dreamed of becoming and then to help him towards that place. I have said before that Susan performed no magic; William did not suddenly become a child for whom we had no concerns. What Susan did do was remove William's motivation to behave in a destructive and disruptive manner in a misguided attempt to get his needs met. Susan spent the time that was necessary to try and discover what his needs were and to try and meet them. This does not happen as an epiphany. It happens slowly and over time, particularly with children such as William. Susan spent all year working to discover William's needs and motivations through careful attention to him, and dialogue with him, and was still unable to realize everything that she knew, or suspected, was there. 30 Contrast what I have described with what I believe, from experience, would probably have happened if our school had welcomed William in a traditional manner. The first thing that would have happened is that information about William would have been shared quickly and with great alarm. No school relishes the imminent arrival of a child who has a history of a "severe behaviour disorder." The file would have been shared with district behaviour specialists who would have placed William on their caseload and proceeded to collect more data through phone calls and meetings. A behaviour plan would most likely have been put in place. The overriding expectation would have been the same as mine had been—that the behaviour would happen and that we would be well advised to be prepared for it. If the classroom teacher had accepted all recommendations unquestioningly William would have walked into a situation much like the one he had come from. Soon the learning specialists would have been called upon to address William's deficits through their area of expertise. William's problems would have been well covered and we would all have been able to relax. That is of course until William decided to demonstrate his particular talents in the behavioural arena, which would have happened. We would then have applied the previously agreed to consequences for whichever listed behaviour William happened to produce. We would have been in control of the situation. A m I suggesting that specialists be done away with or that children should not be accountable for their behaviour? No, not at all. What I had hoped to show was the contrast between a caring approach and an approach that I can only describe as systems driven. Nowhere in the second story did William as a person come in-Will iam the 31 problem, most definitely, but not William himself. Susan did call on the specialists when she felt she needed their help, which was often. William was by no means an easy child to teach. Susan, however, insisted that "who" William is and not "what" William is, be a focus and starting point for any discussion or action plan. She was also concerned that any suggestion for action take into account how that action would be perceived by the other children in the class. It was important to her that they observe any action towards William as a caring action, an attitude that they would see modelled in the hope that they would behave in a like manner. She wanted all of her students to experience care and to learn to care for others. At the end of that year William, once again, moved. We gathered up all our documentation and put it in the file. The file was sent on to the next school. It is my hope that William's new school was able to pick up the message of caring from what we wrote and welcomed William into their school as Susan had welcomed him into ours. I have just finished telling the story of Susan and William and what caring looks like in the classroom. "What," I kept asking myself, however, "would caring look like in a school as a whole?" I had read a great deal of Noddings and of others who speak of the power of caring (e.g. Beck,1994; Courtney&Noblit, 1994; Gilligan, 1982; Kohn, 1991; Shogan, 1988) and was starting to recognize aspects of it in my own practice and recognizing the caring practice of other educators. The examples of caring that I had noticed seemed, however, to be rather isolated, exceptions to the rule in a school, not the standard way of being. I realized that I needed to look more closely at what a caring 32 school would look like, and hopefully discover some examples of schools where caring is accepted practice. I was a firm believer in the power of caring. I had looked closely at my own behaviour in terms of caring and begun the process of adjusting accordingly. The next logical step, it seemed to me, was to introduce the whole school to the joys of caring and implement an ethic and culture of care!....Whoa!...Shake your head and put that brain in gear! The reader will have to excuse my brief moment of naivete. Of course changing the culture of a school, even on a small scale, is an enormous task. How then, was I going to effect change without causing upset and trauma? I had seen it done so badly before and had no wish to copy the mistakes of others. Perhaps I would need to rethink what it was I was trying to accomplish and why. Up until this point I had pursued Noddings' ideals from the perspective of the carer. Everything I thought about, believed in, acted upon, or did not act upon was as the role of carer in relation. Noddings also discusses the role of the carer, and to a lesser degree, (although according to Noddings no less important) the cared-for, in her conceptualization of the caring encounter. What I was becoming more and more concerned with was how to encourage others to look at caring as a viable alternative to standard ways of being in schools. "The traditional organization of schooling is intellectually and morally inadequate for contemporary society"(Noddings, 1992, p. 173). Traditional organization of schools is hierarchical and authoritative( e.g. Callahan, 1962). Noddings rejects this completely as antithetical to caring in schools. Hierarchy and authority, of the form often seen in 33 large organizations, imply all that caring is not, such as power, control, and concern for adherence to rules, policies, and rigid roles. Noddings would suggest that educational administration might look very different in a school centred in a care ethic(1984, p.199). The role of the educational administrator is one that has been defined and redefined many times over. What seems, however, to remain a component of the job is that, rarely spoken but well understood, label "the boss." This one notion of what an administrator is and what he or she stands for gets in the way of so much good being accomplished in schools. Granted, that particular label also helps in diminishing damaging actions (potential or actual), but I would argue that role and authority alone are not necessary to do that. Any caring adult who is truly concerned for the well-being of children will not be able to stand by and witness damage and do nothing. What is it then that Noddings proposes be done? Noddings would like to see the whole concept of administration of the educational program turned on its head and reconceptualized and she would like to see a move towards deprofessionalizing education. Deprofessionalization, in Noddings' view, could begin to rid education of the jargon and narrow specialization that, however unintentionally, serves to widen the gulf between educators and parents. What does Noddings think a school would look like without our accepted and comfortable notions of career administrator and professional educator? In Noddings' school, teachers would stay with a group of students for approximately three years and after that time the teacher might then take a year out to perform some administrative tasks. Noddings' thinking behind this proposal is that teachers who are expected to contribute to all aspects of running a school will have a 34 fuller understanding of the problems schools face. She believes that with the career administrator gone, "the enemy" as she tongue-in-cheek phrases it, (1984, p. 199) teachers would be more open to looking at and implementing innovations. Noddings has made a call for deprofessionalization in other writings (e.g.Noddings, 1993) as she believes that it would be an "...attempt to eliminate the special language that separates us from other educators in the community (especially parents), a reduction in the narrow specialization that carries with it reduced contact with individual children, and an increase in the spirit of caring—that spirit that many refer to as 'the maternal attitude'" (1984, p. 197). Noddings believes strongly that a change in traditional administrative hierarchies and demystifying the profession of education are necessary steps towards developing schools that support caring where the focus is on the education of children and less on the structures that tend to separate children from their teachers by imposing systems that have more to do with efficiency than education. Arguments against Noddings' proposal, particularly changing the system of administration, center on the level of competence of teachers to perform administrative tasks. Noddings' response is simple: "We might, however, respond in two ways. First, teachers could learn these functions, and the requirement that such competencies be mastered might raise the level of aspirant in teaching. Second, many teachers today are incompetent as teachers, and the present system of organization has been unable to change this condition. We have very little to lose and much to gain by trying something different" (1984, p.200). 35 It seems clear that Noddings' purpose, however politically naive, is one of eliminating the negative aspects of hierarchies but retaining the need for someone to oversee the operation of a school and its educational program. The benefits of the structure suggested by Noddings would, I believe, be huge. Teachers, who choose to take this opportunity, would be able to analyze their own program in the larger context of the school rather than only in the isolation of their classroom. While Noddings does not specifically state this, it will be crucial, I believe, for regular dialogue to take place in schools that have organized in such a way. Noddings does not go into great detail about her ideas for reorganization; she submits them as catalysts for discussion, for putting forth her belief that the way our schools are structured must change i f we want schools that support caring. While I have no great love of current models of organization in schools today, I am under no illusion that they will fall easily. I would like to pursue Noddings' notion of cyclical administration a little. While Noddings does not expand upon her idea I think I might be able to paint some kind of a picture that may be feasible in school today. I can almost see the deep furrowed frowns on the foreheads of some readers. Do away with career administrators? Ask teachers to take on an extremely difficult role for one year with no formal training and possibly no experience? Chaos is bound to result! In actual fact, I tend to agree. Reading between the lines of Noddings' cursory treatment of this idea I do not believe that she truly means to displace every principal with a teacher on a rotating basis. I think, perhaps her notion of administrative tasks would most likely displace vice-principals. While I agree with Noddings' sentiments regarding the pitfalls of 36 the current system of administration I also know that in many schools today the role of principal is so complex that doing the job once every three years would be asking for trouble. How the principal chooses to define his or her job and conceptualize that practice is far more important and something that I will be expanding upon when I discuss the issue of my own practice. The picture I am going to paint, however, concerns the role of the vice-principal. The role of the vice-principal looks very different in every school district and indeed in every school. The value of this role changes with the seasons, or so it seems. The big problem, it appears to me, is that the purpose of the vice-principal role in relation to education has never been clearly established. Some see it as purely a training ground, a kind of administrative limbo (purgatory some might venture to say) that one remains in until the requisite amount of time has passed before entrance to a principal's office is granted by those higher in the hierarchy. Others see it as an administrative assistant to the principal and go-between from staff members to principal. Still others see it as a legitimate and essential part of an administrative team. Rarely is it officially recognized, other than in rhetoric, as a role requiring educational leadership. Whatever the view however, it is very clears particularly in times of restraint, that the value of the role is negotiable. If Noddings' suggestion has value why not look at the vice-principal role as one that could be part of the cycle of teaching/administration that Noddings describes? I believe that this would be possible because I have been in a school that organized, albeit loosely, in this way. At one point in my teaching career I was teaching in a school of approximately 400 children. The school was considered a fraction too 37 small by current district standards to warrant a vice-principal. It was however, too large to allow the principal to involve himself in all aspects of the school. This principal was one of a very small group of administrators in the district whose sense of self-worth in his job was not tied to the amount of power and control he held in the building. In fact, he was always looking for ways to allow teachers to take on leadership roles which would capitalize on their strengths and personal interests. The faith in people, respect, and caring shown by this administrator resulted in a school where most staff took on roles generally thought of as administrative. Over time more and more teachers became comfortable with taking on more responsibility for the school as a whole rather than only their classroom. They began to expect students to take ownership for the school as well and created opportunities for student leadership throughout the grade levels. Teachers also developed creative ways of releasing colleagues from classroom duties, when necessary, to complete projects or tasks of benefit to the school as a whole. The principal also provided money for release time whenever possible. Of course, not all teachers chose to involve themselves in the larger context of the teaching/administrative role that had been developed. Not all teachers were expected to do so as it was recognized that everyone does his or her best job at different levels of comfort. Open and continual dialogue, however, became commonplace among all teachers. Unfortunately, the organization that this school set up was not to last for more than a couple of years. Soon the school had reached the magic enrollment number needed for a vice-principal. At the same time as the vice-principal was appointed there 38 was a change in principal. The new administrator did not believe in relinquishing control and soon had the school running in a much more traditional, authoritative style. This change caused many teachers to choose to transfer to other schools, myself among them. While the organization that we had set up at our school was not formalized, it proves, I think, that changes in the way we view school organization and administration need not be catastrophic or chaotic but could very well improve education for children. I ended the last paragraph with the phrase "improve education for children." What exactly does this mean and what import does it have when discussing implementing an ethic of care in schools? Caring and education go hand in hand. Explicit in the concept of caring is that the academic well-being of the child is one very important aspect of the child's education. Schools were invented in order to educate children not to perpetuate a system or bureaucracy. A l l of what Noddings discusses in her writing is grounded in the notion of improving education for children. Noddings feels that one way of doing this is to de-emphasize the currently accepted model of organizing and administering schools. Another way of improving education, she feels, is to organize schools for continuity. "The structure of schooling today...may be pathological. It may work against creating, maintaining, and enhancing caring relation. I will argue now that caring relations such as parenting and teaching require continuity—continuity of purpose, place, people, and curriculum"(Noddings, 1991, p.4). Continuity is critical for the caring relationship to develop beyond what is possible in the occasional or temporary caring encounter. It is only through a long-term relationship that teachers are able to really come to know their students and ascertain who they are trying to become. Noddings .39 believes that children need to experience continuity of purpose, place, people, and curriculum. In the Challenge to Care Noddings writes of schools' "shallow response to deep social change"(1992, p.l). Noddings recognizes that children are experiencing instability in both family and community life. She feels that schools, for the most part, have not recognized the impact that this social change has on children in their care. It is for this reason that Noddings believes continuity at school is so crucial. Children crave stability and do better when they know what is expected from them, when they care for and about the people they are with, and know that they are cared for. This aspect of Noddings' philosophy was one that I accepted immediately when I read what she had to say. I had always felt very strongly that children needed to remain in one place and with one person for longer than the arbitrarily decided upon one year. I had to fight long and hard one year in order to keep most of a class together and with me for a second year. I started my teaching career as a special education teacher specializing in learning disabilities and behaviour disorders. I enjoyed the work but felt frustrated with the isolation and with the uneasy feeling I had that the differences I was making with the children in my caretwere not counting for much in the regular classroom which is where I felt these children belonged. For that reason, and others, I decided to apply for a position as an intermediate grade-level teacher. My application was successful and I started off the next September teaching a group of children in grades six and seven. Due to my training and experience with special needs children it was inevitable, and not unwelcomed, that I would receive a number of students who were suspected of 40 having various learning and behaviour problems. It was an extremely challenging but very enjoyable year. I felt that I had started to make some headway with a few of the troubled students in the group. I began to think that I might like to keep them a second year as I was starting to know them so well. I also thought that this would be a good idea for all of the grade six students. I was feeling dissatisfied with my progress with the grade seven children in my class as I felt that I was only just starting to understand them and their needs by the time the year came to an end. Keeping the grade six children through grade seven might alleviate that concern. Keeping the class for a second year was an idea that I thought the administration and other teachers would support, especially since I was proposing to continue working with the "problem ones." I was in for a nasty surprise. While the administrator was somewhat supportive in that she did not say no, the other teachers at my grade level were quite upset at the idea. The reasons they gave for objecting to my proposal were surprising to say the least. The biggest objection seemed to be the perception that by keeping the same children for another year I would have an "easier" class and a better year than they. They saw themselves as having to take new children and expected that I should have to as well. That, in their minds, was fair. They were also concerned that they would not have a chance at having some of the "good kids" from my group in their classrooms the next year. They saw this as "hanging on to the best" and leaving the "leftovers" for them. Of course, they conveniently forgot that I had taken and chosen to keep children that they did not want anywhere near their rooms. I was very upset by the petty and uncaring attitude 41 evidenced by people that I had considered good and kind teachers and people. What was going on? In hindsight, part of what I was experiencing was the result of a system gone awry. Many teachers have become concerned with personal power in the classroom as they feel they have none elsewhere in the school. These teachers, I believe, were feeling threatened by the fact that I was proposing to possibly take away one of the few loci of control they had in the building; the deciding of class lists. By keeping my children for a second year I effectively diminished the available pool of students to choose from. I think that they were also baffled by the desire to keep children another year in order to truly meet their needs. These teachers believed that it was a teacher's job to meet any given child's needs in one year and that if you could not do that you were not a good teacher. I was challenging their value system and they were extremely uncomfortable about it. I did end up keeping my class for a second year and it was a better year than the first, but not because it was "easier." The second year was better because my relation with those children was stronger and I was able to discover things about each of them that would have been impossible had I only kept them for one year. Some educators today—and I include myself among them—would like to see a complete reorganization of the school curriculum. We would like to give a central place to the questions and issues that lie at the core of human existence. One possibility would be to organize the curriculum around themes of care—caring for self, for intimate others, for strangers 42 and global others, for the natural world and its nonhuman creatures, for the human-made world, and for ideas (Noddings, 1995,p.675). Noddings believes that the ultimate aim of education should be to "produce competent, caring, loving, and lovable people" (1992, p. 174). To this end she does not believe that current school curriculum accomplishes this. Creating a culture of care in a school must also extend into the classroom curriculum. Why teach caring? Why not just provide moral education through modeling, practice, dialogue, and confirmation? Noddings provides a number of reasons why she thinks that instruction in caring is important: 1. Expansion of students' cultural literacy. 2. Themes of care help in connecting the various subjects. 3. Themes of care connect students and subjects to existential questions such as: What is the meaning of life? How should I live? Are there gods? 4. Sharing such themes build the person-to-person connection. 'When teachers discuss themes of care, they may become real persons to their students and so enable them to construct new knowledge' (1993, p.676). 5. Teaching care implies a continuous search for competence. Teaching care is '...not anti-intellectual. Rather, it demonstrates respect for the full range of human talents'(1993, p.676). Noddings believes strongly that the current conception of liberal education in schools needs to be reassessed and that curriculum needs a major overhaul. Noddings 43 also believes that organizing for themes of care in schools is an important step towards that overhaul and an important component for teaching children to care. While I agree with Noddings' premise that curriculum can, and perhaps should, change, I am far more in favour, and believe more in the power, of her notion of moral education. I will discuss this in the next chapter. 44 C h a p t e r 3 M o r a l Act ion as M o r a l Education Belinda is in grade four. Once again she has disrupted the classroom with a temper tantrum that involves screaming, throwing things and eventually running through the hallways threatening to run away. The classroom teacher, Karen is at her wits end. "You have to do something about this!" she says to me, not calmly or quietly; which under the circumstances is quite understandable. What am I to do? Whatever I choose, as an educational administrator, to do, or not to do, will have moral consequences for me and for everyone witness to my action. I have many different choices in terms of how to respond to the "Belinda dilemma" and each of those choices will affect the moral education of those around me. How so? One of the most powerful methods of teaching is through modeling. My moral choices will send a powerful message to those children and adults who are party to my action. I must be aware of this and use my privileged position carefully when deciding how I will act. "Perhaps the most important thing children learn from us is how to interact with people and other living things. Moral education, thus, becomes a high priority for all carers" (Noddings, 1993, p.4). In this chapter I will be discussing Noddings' notion of moral education and how that could tie in with my conception of caring moral action on the part of educational administrators. I will be illustrating, through story, the kind of conventional behaviour 45 that I have seen other administrators use which I believe is antithetical to caring and why I believe caring to be a much more human and educational response to the myriad situations and dilemmas encountered by principals and vice-principals every day. If I were to announce to the parents of the school where I work that I was going to initiate a program of moral education the resulting screams would quite likely reverberate around the city. The concern, most likely, would stem from the belief of many parents that moral education belongs in the home. Trusting the school to provide moral education that falls in line with parental beliefs and expectations could be difficult for large numbers of parents. Yet, as educators we are engaged in moral education every minute that we are in contact with children. We seem to be comfortable with allowing time in our curriculum to teach children the social skills we think they need in order to get along in this world. We spend time working with or chastising children when we see them behave in ways that run counter to our values. We make judgements as to what is appropriate behaviour, what is exemplary behaviour and in many subtle (and not so subtle) ways reward it. Why then would formalizing, giving a title to an activity that we engage in anyway cause such an uproar? I touched on my own discomfort with the word moral in chapter one. Much of what I had to say about my experience is also applicable, I believe, to how parents would feel. We all have our own ideas about what is moral and what that very word implies. For some people their personal sense of moral is rigid, for others it is non-consequential, and for still others it is so personal that they prefer it remain in control of the home. Schools are then left to educate for moral behaviour on the sly and couch the terms so as not to offend anyone. 46 What I have just said though, assumes that schools are purposely setting out to engage in moral education. This, in my experience, is not so. In order to purposely engage in moral education, an educator must recognize his or her own practice as moral and recognize that everything that is done or not done to and for children is moral. So, we are left with a dilemma. Moral education happens; sometimes purposefully, most times not. It is not much of a stretch to assert that purposeful education is preferable to non-purposeful. The question then becomes, how do we, as educators, deal with the moral nature of our practice in a way that benefits the education of children and yet, at the same time, does not create an untenable situation for parents? Nel Noddings proposes a form of moral education that attempts to address this very problem. For Noddings, moral education need not be, in fact must not be, a prescribed curriculum with learning objectives, materials, and methods outlined and published in a coil-bound teachers' guide (Noddings, 1984). Noddings' conception of moral education is inextricably bound to everything a teacher does. Moral education is education; it is part of the daily routine and not a discrete subject. How a teacher behaves around, talks with, looks at, and provides opportunities for a child are all part of what Noddings'terms moral education. Noddings does identify four critical components of moral education: modeling, dialogue, confirmation, and practice. I want to return now to my story to help explain what Noddings is suggesting by each of these four components to moral education, that is, educating children towards an "ethical ideal" (Noddings, 1984, p.49). 47 Modeling It's Day 100 in Marilyn's kindergarten classroom. Excitement is high as the children prepare to celebrate this very special day in their first year of school. Sasha and Thomas are finishing the 100 Day activity before joining the others at circle time. As Marilyn is settling the rest of the children a wail emanates from the corner of the room where Sasha and Thomas are working. Marilyn calmly moves to the children, assessing the situation as she approaches. "Thomas? Sasha? Can I help you solve your problem? " Marilyn smiles at both of them. The children tearfully explain what has caused the upset. Marilyn listens and quietly guides them to a solution that is acceptable for both. Marilyn returns to the circle where the rest of the students are just beginning to squirm restlessly. Marilyn picks up her guitar and a rousing rendition of "The Cat Came Back" soon fills the room. Primary teachers and, in particular, kindergarten teachers, are no strangers to Nel Noddings' form of moral education. Marilyn, one of the finest kindergarten teachers I have had the pleasure to work with, was continually aware of how her behaviour affected the children she worked with. Marilyn modelled the type of respectful problem solving that she hoped her students would learn to use in their interactions with each other. In the snapshot I just described, Marilyn looked not for blame but for a resolution that maintained the dignity of each individual. I have chosen to write of Marilyn to help 48 illustrate the component of modeling in Noddings' conception of moral education; the ideal of nurturing the growth of "acceptable children"(Noddings, 1992a). Modeling, is a notion that Noddings began explicating in The Challenge to Care in Schools (1992). In her earlier book, Caring (1984) Noddings addressed modeling but did not outline it as a formal component of moral education. In The Challenge to Care Noddings makes the assertion that "...the capacity to care may be dependent on adequate experience in being cared for" (Noddings, 1992, p.22). While few kindergarten teachers that I have spoken to ( actual fact, no kindergarten teachers) have heard of Nel Noddings, her beliefs and underlying assumptions about how children learn to behave and care for others seem often to be mirrored in the philosophy of many of those teachers. Marilyn demonstrated to me, on a daily basis, that she understood how important modeling is to the education of children. Let there be no doubt that kindergarten is education! I shudder when I hear a parent or anyone else state that kindergarten is just play, implying that it is somehow not education or even very worthwhile. In my time as a vice-principal I have observed many kindergarten classes in action. The amount of learning and teaching that goes on can be phenomenal. From what I have seen, kindergarten teachers, and primary teachers in general, have a much better sense of what I believe counts as education than many other teachers in our systems. I think that part of this may be due to the fact that kindergarten teachers, and most early primary teachers, tend to view the child as a whole person rather than someone made up of talents and/or problems that need to be diagnosed and addressed or fixed (Hearken back to William in chapter two!). Primary teachers also realize that children need to be shown, not just told, 49 i f we want learning to take place. The same applies to ethical behaviour. As Noddings says, "...we do not tell our students to care; we show them how to care by creating caring relations with them" (Noddings, 1992, p.22). Children learn by experience; they learn to care by experiencing being cared for. Marilyn made it a priority in her teaching to make sure that all the children in her classroom knew that she knew them and cared for them, even when they behaved in ways that concerned her. Marilyn, like Susan, searches for the better self in each one and models for them a way of being that will nurture that better self in each child. Modeling is not a difficult task, nor is it the panacea that some educators are continually seeking. Modeling requires only an open awareness to others, a desire to help them further their own ethical purpose, and an understanding that educators are models for children whether we choose to model behaviour that we would hope to be emulated or not. Practice My grade seven class was a hive of activity. All twenty-seven of them were busy preparing materials and gathering books in readiness for their next session with their kindergarten "buddies. " We had been meeting with the kindergarten class once a week for four weeks now and the older children were becoming very adept at preparing for the forty minute session. It was the grade seven buddy's responsibility to choose a book to share with the younger child and then have a follow-up activity ready for the two of them to complete together. While some of the older children had initially balked at the requirement to put personal effort into the traditional "read with the" activity, 50 most of them now were finding the time spent rewarding and were trying to outdo each other with the elaborateness of their activities. Kindergarten children were now being involved in dramatizing stories with costumes or puppets or making papier mache models, whereas three weeks ago drawing a picture about the story was standard fare. Ingrid, in particular, found what I can only call joy, in her relationship with five-year old Jeffrey. Ingrid had been at the school since grade six but still carried the emotional scars from having lived through trauma in a South American country. Ingrid's family was having a difficult time keeping the physical structure of the family together; I suspected that too little caring was happening at home for Ingrid. Ingrid had been in my class for two years now. In that time I had seen her develop from a scared young girl into an increasingly confident young adult. Ingrid and I had built a relation that I believe we both cherished. Ingrid had gained much needed experience in being cared-for. It was becoming clear to me that Ingrid was ready to practice caring for others. When the kindergarten teacher and I were deciding which grade seven student to buddy up with which kindergarten child, I made sure that Ingrid was going to be with a student who appeared to need something extra in terms of attention. Before the first session I explained to Ingrid that Jeffrey was going to need all of her patience as he tended not to be very cooperative. While I did not give Ingrid any personal information about Jeffrey, I made sure that she understood that Jeffrey was a child that would need special care. 51 Over the four weeks I watched Ingrid and Jeffrey. During that time a strong relationship was growing visibly between them. Ingrid was able to entice Jeffrey to try activities that he would have no part of in his kindergarten classroom. Ingrid obviously cared about Jeffrey, and Jeffrey knew it. Ingrid was engaging in the kind of practice that she needed in order to take on the role as carer when called upon. She was also modeling the kind of caring behaviour that Jeffrey needed to see and feel; Jeffrey was experiencing .being cared for. Ingrid was one of only a few students in my grade seven class who so easily and completely took on the role of carer, but it showed me that what I was doing with my students was right. I can label the activity now as practice; at the time I had no such word, only a strong intuition that children needed relatively risk-free opportunities to try out different ways of being with people. Noddings writes of practice as a way of "...inducing certain attitudes and ways of looking at the world. If we want people to approach moral life prepared to care, we need to provide opportunities for them to gain skills in caregiving and, more important, to develop the characteristic attitudes..." (Noddings, 1993, p.7). Confirmation / approached Wayne's classroom with some trepidation. I waited a few moments while he finished dismissing his grade one class for the day. As I was standing by the door I was obliged, quite happily, to provide end-of-the-day hugs to a steady stream of six year olds. Within a few minutes the classroom was once again peaceful although the 52 ravages of the day's enthusiasm were still highly evident. Wayne looked around at the mess, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Grade one. " I understood. Wayne was a fairly new teacher having graduated from university three years previously. He was ful l of energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge. His manner with children and his ski l l in teaching made him a magnet for parents and other teachers. I had had many requests in June from parents asking that their children be placed in Wayne's class the following year. I was concerned however, that Wayne was becoming burned-out by his own stratospheric expectations of himself. He was more than wil l ing to take more than his fair share of children who needed special teaching and I was about to hand him one more. I had just spent an hour with a parent who was going to be moving into the area within the week. She came in to discuss her son's special needs. Phi l l ip appeared to have a multitude of physical and behavioural difficulties. Phill ip required medication for his behaviour problems which reduced but did not erase his concerns; he had received ful l -time classroom assistant support at his previous school, which was in a small distict far outside of the urban centre. I explained to Phillip's mother that it was highly unlikely that the same level of support would be available here, but that I would phone the district office immediately in order to get the process started. As I suspected, Phil l ip was assigned half-time support which was to begin on Phillip's first day at our school, three days hence. 53 I explained to Wayne that I had no choice but to place Phillip in his classroom as his class was the only grade one setting in the school with space. Wayne was upset. He argued that he had more non-identified special needs children than anyone else in the school. I agreed with him that the make-up of his class was extremely challenging, but that I was obligated to meet the teachers' contract regarding class size which left none of us with any options. I left the encounter feeling that I had let Wayne down and was somehow setting him up for a fall. I knew that what was happening was not fair for anyone concerned and that there were other classrooms in the school that would have been very suitable, perhaps more so, than Wayne's classroom, yet my hands were tied. I spent the first few weeks after Phillip's arrival keeping a concerned eye on Wayne. He was carrying a tremendous load and I did not want him to collapse under the weight of both his job-related responsibilities and his self-imposed expectations. While Wayne was still concerned about the addition of another special needs child into his classroom he appeared to be enjoying Phillip's contributions and was actively encouraging Phillip to take more risks academically and socially. Wayne was giving Phillip his all, as he gave to every other child in his classroom. When I spoke to Wayne sometime later about his classroom and the addition of Phillip specifically, I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. Wayne still felt that he had far more children with special needs in his classroom than he could reasonably expect to help, but he was also very enthused with the progress Phillip had made in the time he had been in Wayne's classroom. As I listened to Wayne speak I recognized an attitude in 54 Wayne that I had before observed in Susan Smith. Wayne made a point of finding and encouraging the best in his students. Noddings would describe Wayne's action as confirmation. According to Noddings, "When we confirm, we spot a better self and encourage its development" (1993, p.8). While Wayne approached his teaching in a manner quite different from Susan, he did have in common with her a desire to find that part of a child that needed discovering and developing. Wayne listened to his students and discovered what their dreams and desires for themselves were. Wayne worked with them to help realize their "better selves" (Noddings, 1992, p.25). The concept of confirmation is an important characteristic of a care ethic. When a person behaves in a way that runs counter to a set of rules that person often is labelled as bad or wrong or....take your pick of any of a number of dehumanizing terms. Confirmation, on the other hand, demands that the carer look beyond the unacceptable behaviour of the cared-for to that part of the cared-for that can be confirmed as good. Noddings writes: Confirmation requires attribution of the best possible motive consonant with reality. When someone commits an act we find reprehensible, we ask ourselves what might have motivated such an act. Often it is not hard to identify an array of possible motives ranging from the gross and grubby to some that are acceptable or even admirable. This array is constructed in abstraction. We build it from a knowledge of the particular other and by listening carefully to what he or she tells 55 us. The motive we attribute has to be a real, a genuine possibility (Noddings, 1992a, p.25). The carer never gives up on the cared-for and never applies a label that is damaging. This is not to say that reprehensible behaviour on the part of children, or anyone for that matter, is ignored. In order to truly care I, as carer, must also help the cared-for work towards eliminating actions that are hurtful to herself or others. What I must not do, as carer, is decide that the cared-for is defined by her poor choices and actions. I must always look for and encourage the growth of the better self. Noddings can be, and has been, criticized for her choice of language. She writes of "the better self and of "actualizing that self (Noddings, 1984, p.64), but what does this really mean? While I do not disagree with Noddings* notion of confirmation I do, myself, find some of her language problematic. When Noddings speaks of the better self, I believe that she is really asking us not to stop at the child's outward behaviour but to explore the reasons why the child is behaving the way she is. Too often in schools staff respond to the action of the child with no thought as to why this behaviour might be happening. Children are notorious for being unable to articulate to themselves, much less to the adult authority figures in their lives, what it is that is bothering them. Much as babies cry because they have no other form of communication, children engage in behaviours because they do not have the capacity to take their feelings, examine them and then articulate their worry or need to an adult. When Noddings asks us to confirm the better self in the child, she is asking us to help the child uncover those feelings, look at 56 the origin of them and deal with the behaviour based on motivation rather than solely on the visible acts of the child. In order to do this however, Noddings claims that a relation of continuity, as we see in teaching, must be in place. Trust is also a critical factor in confirmation. It is worth repeating that confirmation cannot be done by formula. A relation of trust must ground it. Continuity is required, because the carer in acting to confirm must know the cared-for well enough to be able to identify motives consonant with reality. Confirmation cannot be described in terms of strategies; it is a loving act founded on a relation of some depth. When we turn to specific changes that should occur in schooling in order to meet the challenge to care, I will put great emphasis on continuity. Not all caring relations require continuity, (some, as we have seen, are brief encounters), but teaching does require it. (Noddings, 1992, p.25-26) Dialogue The four of us were seated around a table in the staffroom to decide upon the acquisition of new math texts; Mary and Steve who taught grade seven that year and Alison and I who were teaching grade six. This was the first time in many years that money had come available to replace the old, worn out, and horribly inaccurate texts that we were using. The market for math texts was booming, so there was a vast array from which to choose. We needed to discuss our style of math instruction, our philosophies, and, of course, the prescribed curriculum in order to make an informed decision that 57 would best meet the needs of ourselves and the students. At least this is what some of us thought. Steve had a different idea. He felt that since he was the only one of the group with a degree in math he should decide for us which text would be most suitable. The rest of us looked at each other unsure of where to go with this one. I asked Steve, out of curiosity, whether he had a particular choice of text in mind. He did, of course, and of course it was the one text that none of the rest of us felt that we could live with. Mary began to ask Steve some questions about what he saw as the relative merits of the text he chose over any of the others. Steve became quite incensed with what he interpreted to be questioning of his professional judgement. He glowered at Mary and hissed, "Well lady, I guess you are a much better teacher than I am," and then left the room. Looking back on that incident now, I recognize it as an opportunity for some enlightening dialogue gone awry. Nicholas Burbules (1993) would say that "antidialogue" is far more common in schools than many of us would care to admit. Burbules states that " appears that i f we were designing institutions from scratch with a primary goal of guaranteeing that there would be few incentives to pursue dialogue and even fewer opportunities to do so, we could not do much better than the typical public school" (Burbules, 1993, p. 162). What on earth was it that I was expecting out of a necessary conversation to help decide which textbooks to order? I think I expected a dialogue to occur that would allow a group of colleagues a seldom available opportunity to discuss what was near and dear to 58 all of us—our practice. Why should this be so difficult? Burbules would say that there are many reasons why dialogue does not occur, not the least of which is the authoritative nature of schools (Burbules, 1993,pp.151-162). Many voices are silenced in our system of schooling due to fears of losing authority or power or control by engaging in the risky practice of verbalizing thoughts and ideas and feelings that may not be shared by all. I would guess that Steve was feeling this way when he refused to enter into discussion about the text he chose. If he was concerned about having control over the choice then any discussion would necessitate him explaining his reasons for choosing the text and that might take away some of his power. Such an activity might expose his thoughts and ideas, a risk he was not willing to take. Whereas teachers tend to be reluctant to engage in dialogue with colleagues, many of them do, profess to understand the need to allow students time to do so. However, the structures of schooling get in the way here as well. "I know that children benefit from time spent in meaningful conversation with adults and peers. I just don't have the time to give to it in my classroom!" I have heard words similar to these ones over and over. In many ways this teacher's comments are right. Little time is left for any kind of important talk. Various interest groups in our society are continually demanding additions and changes to the official curriculum—a curriculum that is viewed by far too many, particularly politicians of every type, as the ultimate vehicle that is our children's education, rather than seeing it for what it is, merely a tool we use to educate, an arbitrary—Noddings would argue (1995)—and discrete set of skills and knowledge that 59 has been chosen for children to learn. I have a secret to tell...curriculum is not magic; it cannot transform a child or a society—only people can do that. Why does Noddings see dialogue as an important component of moral education? She says that, "Dialogue permits us to talk about what we try to show. It gives learners opportunities to question 'why', and it helps both parties to arrive at well-informed decisions" (1992, p.23). She goes on to say that, Dialogue serves another purpose in moral education. It connects us to each other and helps to maintain caring relations. It also provides us with the knowledge of each other that forms a foundation for response in caring. Caring (acting as carer) requires knowledge and skills as well as characteristic attitudes. We respond most effectively as carers when we understand what the other needs and the history of this need. Dialogue is implied in the criterion of engrossment. To receive the other is to attend fully and openly. Continuing dialogue builds up a substantial knowledge of one another that serves to guide our responses. (Noddings, 1992, p.23) Of the four components of moral education, dialogue is arguably the most difficult to foster in schools since it involves teachers giving up some control of the classroom and taking risks. The same holds true for administrators. Many educators see open dialogue as a possible avenue for others to see their weaknesses and judge them accordingly. While dialogue may be the hardest to implement, it is in my opinion, one of the most powerful tools that an educator has to educate children, colleagues, and themselves. 60 Administrator Behaviour and Moral Education "Their responsibility to act far exceeds their authority to command" (Cuban, 1988, p.61). "Because political action means striving to enact particular values embedded in goals, such action becomes moral action" (Cuban, 1988, p.77). Larry Cuban discusses at length the tension principals and vice-principals constantly feel in their work. Cuban describes administrators as being squeezed between the expectations coming from the district office and those emanating from teachers in the classroom. Throw parents, students, politicians and the public into the mix and the role of the administrator becomes increasingly complex. Everyone has an opinion about how administrators should behave; very few of those opinions overtly take into account the moral implications of administrator behaviour. The quotations above from Cuban's The Managerial Imperative (1988) touch on an awareness of that. In many respects the audience of the school administrator is much larger than that of the classroom teacher. It is, therefore, imperative that the administrator understand the role he or she plays in the moral education of children. Unfortunately it is my experience that very few principals and vice principals are "wide-awake", to use Maxine Greene's term (1978), to the implications of their behaviour and its attendant role in the moral life 61 of those observing. Maxine Greene talks about feelings of powerlessness in society. She states: I am suggesting that, for too many individuals in modern society, there is a feeling of being dominated and that feelings of powerlessness are almost inescapable. I am also suggesting that such feelings can to a large degree be overcome through conscious endeavor on the part of individuals to keep themselves awake, to think about their condition in the world, to inquire into the forces that appear to dominate them, to interpret the experiences they are having day by day. (Greene, 1978, p.43) I would argue, following along Cuban's line regarding the tensions inherent in the role of the principal and vice-principal, that this feeling of powerlessness is becoming more dominant among school administrators and that Greene's call to become wide-awake in terms of our moral life is one that we must heed. Greene goes on to say: The opposite of morality, it has often been said, is indifference—a lack of care, an absence of concern. Lacking wide-awakeness, I want to argue, individuals are likely to drift, to act on impulses of expediency. They are unlikely to identify situations as moral ones or to set themselves to assessing their demands. In such cases, it seems to me, it is meaningless to talk of obligation; it may be futile to speak of consequential choice. (Greene, 1978, p. 43) I would like to continue my story with my own attempts at becoming consciously wide-awake to the moral implications of my practice. It will probably come as no surprise that I have discovered that conscious awareness, of what I am doing and why I 62 am doing it, quite often causes more confusion than clarity. Why would this be so? And i f it is so, why on earth would anyone want to embark upon a road that is fraught with doubt, questions and general murkiness? The second question, I believe, is more easily answered first. Anytime we take seriously our decisions, our thinking and our deliberations, there will be doubt and concern. I, I believe, that as a principal or vice-principal I must take seriously all action I engage in, from minor discipline right up to "the media's on your doorstep" type of issues. If I am only thinking about how my behaviour affects others when the issues are big, and not when the issues are small or do not seem like issues at all, then I am sending a loud and clear message as to what my values really are. The message I am sending is, "I only care about the implications of my actions when my neck is personally on the line." While this may, in fact, not be true, the perception is a powerful learning tool for those around me. As an administrator I continue to be, first and foremost, an educator. The respect, or lack of respect, I show to a child who is trying to speak to me is a lesson. The way I move through the halls, greeting or ignoring children, teachers and parents, at the beginning of the day is a lesson. How children and staff view my interactions with staff is a lesson. Everything I do from the mundane to the critical will be observed, evaluated and stored in the minds of those around me. A l l of these lessons a child receives will , of course, shape the way the child learns to interact with others. In answer to the question of why anyone would want to embark upon the journey to wide-awakeness I would say because we have no choice. Being a school principal or vice-principal is a privilege, not 63 a right conferred by university degrees and fine-tuned interviewing skills, and as such the school administrator must be aware that his or her action has a significant impact on the moral education of children. The first question asked why behaving in a conscious manner should lead to messiness rather than clarity. Let me see if I can answer that question with an example from my experience. Ms. Taylor came up to me while I was in the midst of attempting to create some calm from the chaos of a rainy lunch break. I was organizing supervision for the games room, making sure there was enough paper at the drawing tables, and setting up the video machine for a lunchtime movie. I was attempting to accomplish all of this in the space of about 5 minutes. I knew from experience that if everything was set up and ready to go by the time the first child was dismissed from the lunch room the potential for misbehaviour was greatly reduced. I really did not have the time to chat with Ms. Taylor. She was however insistent. "I need you to move Janet from the afternoon kindergarten class to the morning kindergarten class tomorrow," she burst out. I asked her why, considering that the kindergarten changeover was going to occur in two weeks anyway. She told me that she was going to be starting work the next day and had no childcare for the morning. I thought about it, all too briefly, and said no, I could not possibly do that to Janet or the other children in both classes. Janet had started school late in the year and took a great deal of time to settle down and stop crying on a daily basis. It made me angry to think that her mother was prepared to throw her into a 64 classroom of strange children and perhaps make Janet go through that upset all over again. I told her that she would have to make other arrangements for two weeks until Janet's class made the changeover to morning attendance. Had I acted out of caring concern for Janet? It could be argued that way, I suppose, but I know that I responded without thought. The message Ms. Taylor walked away with was that I had no concern for her as a single parent desperately trying to support her child and that I had all the authority and power at my disposal while she had none. I had behaved badly, and I knew it. During the afternoon I consulted a more experienced colleague on this matter. I was still unhappy about the possibility of Janet moving classes and wanted someone to support the decision I had made. I did not receive that support. I was told to think about whether the trustees would support me if an appeal was made by the parent regarding my decision. As there was space available in the morning class I had no grounds for refusing the parent's request. I mulled this over and agreed that it was not worth the potential fallout. I called Ms. Taylor, apologized for my behaviour earlier that day, and advised her that Janet would be able to attend the morning class the next day. I briefly discussed with her my concerns regarding Janet's feelings but went no further. Case closed. Nowhere in the story I have just related did a true concept of caring come in. M y initial decision was made thoughtlessly and in haste. M y final decision was based upon the likelihood of personal consequences. My real concern with the outcome of this story is with the basis for the second decision. (Any experienced principal or vice-principal 65 knows, or should know,that it is just plain stupid to make decisions in haste. This is something that I must consciously and regularly remind myself of.) My concern rests with the fact that many principals and vice-principals accept the notion that decisions can be made based solely on policy, rules or the likelihood of being chastised from above. I call this the principle of "cover your rear." How would I have acted differently if I had been conscious of the implications of my actions and if I had acted out of caring concern? First of all, I would not have made a decision right then and there. I would have attempted to find some time to discuss the problem with Ms. Taylor properly. I was going to be finished my tasks in about 5 minutes; there was no reason why I could not have given this parent the time she needed then. Ms. Taylor needed to feel that I was concerned about her situation, that I cared enough to listen and attempt to help her. It is quite possible that I may have been able to help her with some solutions to her temporary daycare problem that would not have made it necessary to move Janet to another class. I needed to discuss with her my serious concerns around Janet's ability to cope with a new classroom. I needed to become part of the solution for Ms. Taylor, not just an add-on to her problem. I needed to do all of this out of care for the parent and child and not solely because a particular policy or rule had directed me. Acting in this way is messier than acting according to the rule book. When I act out of caring concern I need to take many factors into account; factors which may be conflicting and desirable at the same time. I need to weigh all of the information and consider how my decision will affect the individuals involved. I need to be very conscious about what is being modeled when I act. While my decisions may often fall in 66 line with what the "rule book" says, occasionally they may not. However, i f I know that my behaviour or decision is right and caring then I can live with that. Lynn Beck, in her book Reclaiming Educational Administration as a Caring Professional 994). speaks of three commonly held views regarding personal interactions in social structures of which school is an example. The first perspective values independence, autonomy, and self-expression coupled with maximizing the chances of individual success. The second perspective values efficient and effective operation of the social structure as the primary goal. This perspective is seen over and over in large organizations such as school systems. The third perspective holds "that the most appropriate reason for the formation of social structures is the promotion of human or personal development within the context of communities. The dominant values of this perspective are fraternity and compassionate justice, and the major ethical systems revolve around caring and the building of community"(Beck, 1994, p.2). While most, i f not all, school boards claim that human or personal development is their foremost goal the reality is that the second perspective that Beck describes often overpowers the spirit of that third perspective, which is caring. Cuban writes of the need for administrators to learn to balance the managerial demands with the human needs (Cuban, 1988). Perhaps, given the reality of schooling today this is the best I can hope for. The policies and rules will not go away, they are an important part of any organization's infrastructure. As an educational administrator though, I cannot allow them to direct my action at the expense of what I believe is right and good and caring. 67 What does count as right and good and caring? It has been my naive hope all along that Noddings' ideas would let me define those concepts for myself. Noddings' writings have certainly caused me to look carefully at what I value but it would be foolhardy for me not to look beyond what Noddings has to say in order to ground what I mean by caring behaviour. Noddings writes from one ethical perspective; it is certainly not the only perspective. In the next chapter I will be exploring Noddings' work in relief to educational scholars who come from two other major ethical perspectives of our times; deontological and teleological. I will also be exploring the specific criticisms of Noddings leveled by feminist scholars of ethics. In doing this I hope to make clearer the barriers and pitfalls administrators may face in attempting to model and encourage caring behaviour in schools. 68 Chapter 4 Car ing Challenged Jason was at my door yet again. He never seemed to arrive when it was convenient for me to adequately deal with him. It was almost as if he had a sixth sense that allowed him to recognize when to misbehave in class in order to get sent down to the office just at the precise moment when I was swamped with other issues. "What is it this time, Jason? This must be the fourth time this week! I can't keep taking time and attention away from everyone and everything each time you decide to act up in your classroom. Sit down, Jason! I'll speak with you when I have a minute." Caring is such a powerful word. It holds so much promise for so much good for so many children and adults. Caring is also very powerful in the expectations it sets up in the minds of those who espouse caring as an essential way of being with children. When one is unable to care, for whatever reason, the guilt that ensues can be crippling. I believe in caring and the power it holds. I also understand the limitations I have as a human being and how my own limitations often become barriers to the kind of caring behaviour I expect from myself. Joan Tronto asks important questions for me when she queries: '"What are the appropriate boundaries of our caring?' and more important, 'How far should the boundaries of caring be expanded?'" (1993, p.250). The snapshot story of Jason is a small and somewhat calm example of my limitations. There are times when the issue is not so small and I am not feeling so calm. These are the times I worry about, when caring is not easy or natural. There are times when I know that I am speaking to a 69 child in a manner that makes me cringe upon later reflection, and times when my frustration with the seemingly willful disobedience of a child will block all thoughts of a caring approach. Nel Noddings presents an ethic that seems to assume the best possible context where the carer is never tired, cranky, frustrated, or in need of care herself or himself. Noddings herself, however, says that "my description of caring was meant to be a phenomenological analysis of 'how we are' when we care and when we are cared for" (1990,p. 123). She does not directly address the issue of how to care when it is imperative that we do so but feel less than able. Educators are in this position regularly as most of our time is spent in the role of carer. We rarely have the luxury of taking on the position of cared-for, particularly with our students. The big question I am always asking myself is, how do I reconcile my conception of myself as carer with the real me that sometimes "blows it?" The guilt and self-recrimination that ensue are hardly helpful. Obviously, how I deal with my own feelings around my own behaviour is up to me. What I am trying to point out however, is that caring is rarely easy and usually takes conscious effort. In this chapter I would like to take a look at Noddings' ethic from the perspective of three different approaches to the study of ethics: deontological, teleological, and feminist. I do this in order to help with the understanding of Noddings' concepts by placing her notions in relief to other alternatives. I choose these perspectives for a variety of reasons; they are major ethical perspectives of our times, scholars within these perspectives have some important ideas that bear on Noddings' work, and Noddings herself has addressed areas she considers problematic that are inherent in each of the perspectives. I am not going to attempt a broad-brush stroke analysis of these approaches 70 but rather will attempt to situate Noddings in the larger conversations initiated by particular scholars who have the fortune, or misfortune, of being labelled as coming from a particular perspective. I also realize that I need to limit my comparisons even further; I cannot deal with all aspects of ethical theory. Accordingly, I want to focus on dialogue which I believe to be central to any ethical approach and which is especially important for Noddings. This chapter will also necessitate my having to leave my story temporarily since the discussion will be taking place in an arena outside of my day-to-day existence as an elementary school vice-principal. While I will be using stories from my experience to help exemplify the comparison between Noddings and other scholars, my own personal experience as a school administrator may or may not enter into the discussions. I wil l return to my story however, when I discuss the implications for my practice. I wil l be asking questions such as, what have I discovered that contributes to my understanding of my practice and what does not and, what does this mean in terms of my role as a caring professional? I will start by comparing the perspective of Robert Young with Nel Noddings as he is one of the few deontological theorists who attempts to situate his writing within an educational context. Young draws on the work of Jurgen Habermas to develop his conception of moral education. While Young believes in the use of principles for moral issues—often problematic for Noddings~he also appears to be sympathetic with Noddings' concerns as to how principles are applied. Noddings sometimes seems to reject principles; Young tries, instead, to reconceptualize them through the use of discourse. What Young means by discourse and what Noddings means by dialogue are not synonymous however and this has important implications for moral education. 71 I have chosen David Can to represent a teleological approach as he highlights the tension in Noddings' philosophy between the Aristotelian conception of the virtues and Noddings' notion of caring. Carr, who draws heavily on the neo-Aristotelian Alisdair Maclntyre, is particularly concerned with moral deliberation through dialogue. While Carr and Noddings share many ideas about moral education, they differ considerably about the purposes for dialogue. I hope to explore this difference. Comparing Noddings' work on dialogue to other feminists involves a shift in focus. Many feminist scholars such as Sarah Hoagland, Joan Tronto, Claudia Card, and Barbara Houston concur with Noddings' concern for dialogue and caring, but worry about how Noddings depicts the relationship between the partners in dialogue. These feminist scholars challenge, not the premise of caring, but Noddings' interpretation of it. Many feminist ethicists seem to feel that only complete deconstruction of current ethical thought wil l permit the construction of purely feminist ethical thought. Sarah Hoagland writes: " A truly radical ethics will challenge not only the masculine but also the feminine, for the feminine is born of a masculinist framework and so does not, at a deep level, represent any change" (1990, p . l 12). These scholars, however, raise many important questions regarding the possibility of Noddings' ethic contributing to dependency, guilt and oppression. The implications that this brings to bear on moral education will also be discussed. As the chapter title indicates this discussion will necessarily challenge the premise of caring as conceptualized by Noddings and how this conceptualization fits within traditions of moral education. What I will try to avoid however, is allowing the criticisms of Noddings' work to become merely a forum for deconstruction. Rather, I would like to 72 look at the various approaches for moral education in order to determine that which shows the most promise of applicability to schools and my own story. Noddings and Deontological Approaches Jason's story: Jason has been having a particularly bad week. Not only has he been working in my office for much of the time due to his disruptive classroom behaviour, but now he is before me accused of throwing one of his classmates up against a schoolyardfence and spitting in his face. The other student had apparently been taunting Jason about his inability to control his behaviour in the classroom and was encouraging other students to harass Jason as well. Jason, never one to refuse a fight, retaliated in the only way he knew how--with aggression. Young's perspective: Robert Young, following the writings of Jurgen Habermas, sees dialogue, or discourse as he terms it, as a critical part of teaching action. Young believes that teaching involves student/teacher discourse about the world when aspects of that world become problematic. Young wants children to learn to make rational responses to knowledge claims made by teachers based on thoughtful reflection and discourse and not respond to claims made by teachers based on the teacher's authority. Young feels that this latter type of response could result in "sowing the seeds of perhaps lifelong habits of acquiescence to authority" (Young,1992, p.48). Given the opportunity, that is, taught the competencies needed for discourse, Young believes that "it is possible for children to argue just as 73 validly as adults, within constrained problem situations. Further, i f children do not engage in critique as they learn, they may not have the courage for critique later" (1992, p. 60). What then would Young make of Jason's situation? It seems to me that Young may analyze Jason's situation as one where Jason feels completely out of control. Out of control of his behaviour certainly, which in fact is only a symptom, but more importantly out of control of his ability to cope with the world. Jason, it would appear, has not had the opportunity to act rationally when problems arise. Jason has never been taught to question, to reject, or to demand more information before a decision is made. It is quite probable that Jason has rarely been encouraged to use speech as a vehicle for problem solving. Jason possesses none of the competencies necessary for the kind of discourse Young believes is so critical for the intellectual and moral development of the child. Jason does not understand that any one person's claim may or may not have validity; he reacts to the surface content without making any attempt to understand whether the claim is justifiable. The fact that so many children who exhibit severe behaviour problems also exhibit language processing problems would probably not be of any surprise to Young. Children and adults, who are not able to understand the structures, subtleties, and deeper meaning of language are unable to challenge what is said and therefore can only react to the surface meaning. Jason is one such child. Young would undoubtedly expect that teaching of the communicative competencies be started right away in order to allow Jason to attempt to reason his way through his world. Noddings' interpretation: Noddings, while I am not sure that she would disagree with Young's possible 74 analysis of Jason, would most definitely be extremely distressed at the thought that Jason was behaving in a manner that evidenced a possible lack of caring concern on the part of others for his moral education. For Noddings, I believe, Jason's problems most likely stem from a lack of experience in being cared for and in learning to care for others. If Jason had received such education it is less likely that he would be reacting in such a manner to the taunts of his classmates. In fact it is less likely that his classmates would even have had any fodder for the taunts. Noddings' response would be to continue, or begin as the case may be, concerted efforts to care for Jason and help him recognize that someone cares deeply about him. Noddings would engage in dialogue with Jason regarding his needs, wants, and aspirations but it would be a much more conversational style of dialogue than that of Young's classroom discourse. Or would it? For all of their apparent differences, (Young tends to be classroom specific, Noddings is not constrained by four walls; Young speaks of the generic learner, Noddings demands intimate knowledge of the individual child; Young's conception of dialogue is an end in itself, dialogue for Noddings is one piece of a larger picture) it is interesting to note the commonalities in the perspectives of Robert Young and Nel Noddings. Young and Noddings-shared conceptions: Central to the theories of both Young and Noddings is dialogue, behind which is the absolute importance of the child's relationship with the teacher. Noddings' beliefs regarding the seminal nature of relationship have been well documented in earlier chapters. Young speaks of distorted communication which can compromise the teacher/student relationship. The use of authority and coercion are examples of ways that teachers, often unintentionally, can create barriers to discourse. If the students are not 75 given the opportunity to reflect on and challenge claims made by the teacher then they are only accepting those claims because of the teacher's position or because of the teacher's skills in persuasion. Because of this Young believes that it is incumbent upon the teacher to make sure that children are given the opportunity to act as true members of the discursive relationship; to do otherwise would be to devalue the student. A relationship of trust, honesty and mutual respect will need to be built between teacher and students in order for meaningful discourse to occur. While it is true that relationship is important to both Young and Noddings it needs to be pointed out that for Young this relationship appears to be developed and remains within the formal learning situation of the classroom whereas for Noddings the teacher/student relationship relates to all of school life and in some cases, where appropriate, beyond. Noddings and Young-differing perspectives: In order to properly discuss the differences between Noddings and Young it will be necessary to take a brief look at the work of Jurgen Habermas. As I mentioned earlier, Young draws heavily on Habermas and his discourse ethics. Noddings in her writings has directly presented several criticisms of Habermas' conception of discourse. One of the qualities of Noddings' work that initially attracted me was that she deals in ethics as daily concrete practice that helps guide my action on the scale of the personal and particular. Much of my frustration with other ethical theories was seeing beyond the abstract and general and trying to apply them to the here and now of my life and practice as a vice-principal. Noddings accuses Habermas of being too abstract, but I do not believe that Habermas would have a great deal of difficulty with some of what Noddings writes about as he too is concerned with people in relation, particularly when 76 engaged in his ethical discourse (Coulter, in press). Habermas's theory also has links to caring within his notion of the lifeworld and the unproblematic values and beliefs of a particular community in communicative action. Noddings however, feels that Habermas's discourse has little relation to real life. She writes: One set of objections focuses on the artificiality of conversation in Habermas's theory. Michael Walzer(1990) notes, rightly I think, that what Habermas depends on is highly idealised conversation. It is not the rough-and-tumble conversation of real people. Participants must understand that certain moves are forbidden by the very logic of argumentation. Anything that closes off debate is antithetical to the whole enterprise. Hence competent participants do not make dogmatic assertions, put self-interest above logic, attack person instead of arguments, or insist that personal stories carry more than a modicum of weight as evidence. Such a highly constrained conversation has little resemblance to real conversation. (1994, p. 108) The point Noddings appears to be trying to make is that how can such a conversation as described above have any bearing on day-to-day life in general, and school life in particular. Clearly what Habermas and Young mean by discourse and what Noddings means by dialogue is important. Noddings believes in the power of dialogue but insists that it must be tied to the participant's experience. Noddings characterizes Habermas's discourse as a form of learned argumentation that is highly formal and constrained (Noddings, 1994). Noddings appears to feel that the required competencies, such as the ability to reason logically, be reflective, and recognize tactics used to disrupt the process, only serve to exclude many from meaningful dialogue. She says that the consensus demanded 77 by Habermas "cannot guarantee moral Tightness or goodness" (1994, p. l 10). In contrast, Noddings sees her form of dialogue as akin to natural conversation; a conversation however, where the participants are more important than the topic. Noddings, in her quest to ensure that dialogue holds a powerful place in the moral growth of children, does insist that in dialogue the: participants must be reasonably good people—people who try to be good, who consider the effects of their acts on others and respond to suffering with concern and compassion. Secondly, the adults must care for the children and enjoy their company. When children engage in real talk with adults who like and respect them, they are likely to emulate those adults. Even i f the purpose of conversation is rarely explicit moral education, matters of moral interest will arise. Adults and children will express themselves, and opportunities for exploration, debate and correction will arise. (Noddings, 1994, p. 114) Finally, Noddings has chastised Habermas for his seeming reliance on Kohlberg's developmental theory to describe the levels of competence that are necessary before entering into moral or ethical discourse (1994, p. 108). Noddings' interpretation of Habermas's discourse ethics is very concerned with his demand for particular competencies; competencies that seem to have a developmental bent to them. Noddings' biggest complaint with this is that the type of discourse described by Habermas would have minimal benefit in terms of moral education. Noddings writes: If the Habermas-Kohlberg complementarity represents a competence theory, then we have to acknowledge that the implications for moral education may be few and relatively minor. Teaching may speed up transition from one stage to another, but people should—under merely adequate stimulation—pass from one 78 stage to the next. (1994, p. 108) Moral education, for Noddings, deals mainly with the adult/child relationship and the moral growth of that child. Habermas's discourse ethics, to many readers (apparently including Noddings), assumes an adult/adult relationship where particular moral developments have already been attained. Robert Young has ably laid to rest this concern for me in his discussion of the teacher's role in preparing children for discourse (Young, 1992, p.58). Young feels that children are just as capable of argumentation as adults—the difference lies only within the relative complexity of problems encountered and the manner in which children have been taught. Perhaps then Habermas's demand for competence can be met by children through a thoughtful change in methodological focus. Young, in further interpreting Habermas for the classroom, also argues for students having a reasoned understanding and "participating as interlocuters—thinking dialogue partners" (1992, p.36) and also challenges the notion of "superior cognitive authority of the expert or teacher" (1992, p.37). This, to me, seems to connect Habermas's discourse, with Young's help, to Noddings' idea of dialogue in the moral education of young children. Practical implications: So, what can I draw from this discussion that is applicable to my role as a vice-principal? In order to do this I need to go back to some of the original questions I posed much earlier on in order to honestly analyze the possible contributions of Young's work to my practice. From the beginning of this story I have been concerned with looking at a caring approach to school administration and have wondered how this approach might influence 79 my action. I also posed the question of why do I think caring is a better way of being, or in other words, what's the point? Noddings has unequivocally stated that the main purpose of schooling should be to educate children towards a life where caring for themselves, others and the world around them is of the utmost importance. Noddings includes caring for academic excellence( the definition of which I would love to tackle, but which will have to wait for another time) as part of her vision of what education should be. It seems to me that as an education system we should be educating children to strive to be good people who care about one another and who care about the world around them. Part of being an effective member of society I would argue is developing and utilizing individual intellectual abilities in order to have some ability towards action. Schools also, of course, have an obligation here. Caring is not a nebulous, feel-good kind of concept. Caring demands a great deal from the individual but also expects that the results of caring will far outweigh the demands. A caring teacher not only expects the best of each individual in terms of their own interaction with others, but also cares that each child is educated academically in a manner that truly taps into their potential. In that sense the academic standards set by a caring teacher are going to be very stringent indeed since all children will be expected to excel as individuals. What's the point, I asked? The point is clearly to educate children to reach their own potential in all areas of their lives and to do this in a manner that is respectful, inclusive and caring. No small task, yet an enormously valuable one. As an elementary school administrator it is my job to ensure that this is happening, which is why my interactions and relationships with the adults who are in positions of influence over children are so critical. Let me return now to Young and the discoveries I have made about his work that 80 could influence my practice. One of the big problems with the education system that I have tried to highlight within my story is the potential for abuse of power which can range from minimal to damaging in the extreme. I have described these experiences in order to exemplify what I believe is "not-caring." It is in this area that I believe that Robert Young has much to offer to education. If, as he suggests, we were to start teaching children to question claims made by authority figures, when the basis for those claims is only that a figure of authority has made them, then we may be able to help children begin to recognize for themselves when abuses of power are occurring and seek help if needed. This could be a scary thought for many educators; the very idea of children running around expecting, even demanding, justifications for statements made by their teachers! Of course, along with the right to question comes the responsibility to question the idea without disrespecting the person. This is a lesson many adults could learn, never mind children! Young supports my belief that part of our responsibility as educators is to help children make sense of their world. Questioning knowledge claims is one way, dialogue (discourse for Young) is another. Explicit in dialogue for both Young and Noddings is the relationship with the student. Young reinforces for me that relationship is critical i f our hope is that children will learn to discuss from a position of trust. Young believes that teaching children the skills necessary for critique or argumentation should be an important component of the curriculum. I am concerned that there could be a risk of depersonalizing the experience by relegating discourse to mere methodology. On the other hand however, Young does make his discourse explicit for children—and adults by implication—something which Noddings' conception of dialogue does not appear to do. 81 Noddings and Teleological Approaches Jason's story: Jason was watching the after-school floor hockey game going on in the gym. He had played last week but was banned from this week's game because his aggressive behaviour last week had resulted in another child getting hurt. Jason decided to start loudly heckling the kids who were playing. His actions resulted in a verbal warning from the staff member who was running the game. Jason, true to form, carried on, but louder. The staff member sent him out of the gym. As I watched Jason stomp down the hallway and kick open the outside doors I couldn't help but wonder, for the umpteenth time, whether Jason truly understood why he always ended up on the outside of any group. It was heartbreaking to watch. Carr's perspective: David Carr (1991), following the neo-Aristotelian Alisdair Maclntyre, writes of the need to educate children in the virtues necessary for a moral life. Carr makes the strong statement: "it is necessary to try to make the point as powerfully as possible that anyone who takes upon himself the responsibility of educating children, cannot logically dissociate himself from the practice of moral education" (p. 256). For Carr, as for Noddings, the responsibility for the moral education of children lies not just with teachers nor just with parents, but with everyone. Where Carr diverges from Noddings however is in his conception of the good and the right. For Carr the vision of the good is set and is based upon an ethics of virtue. He 82 argues for moral deliberation, but this deliberation is not about what can be considered good ends but rather about how those ends can be achieved. Carr explains it this way, "I was occupied with the fairly limited task again of trying to show that the purpose of practical wisdom in moral matters is less that of establishing what is the morally right thing to do and more that of determining the appropriate form which moral conduct should take for the effective achievement of right moral ends" (p. 253). For Carr, as for Aristotle, the virtues, such as compassion, honesty, integrity, fairness, and courage, are ends in themselves, our goals for educating children. Once these virtues are acquired, or even during their development, practical or moral wisdom is used to help the moral agent decide upon the best course of action commensurate with the virtues. Noddings, however, would not be able to agree with Carr that moral ends are predetermined even when those ends are described as general virtues that "are the templates upon which the general contours of moral life are modelled" (Carr, 1991, p. 5) and not specific principles. For Noddings, both the ends and the means of moral action are dependent upon the particular situation and most importantly the relationship of the carer and cared-for within that situation. With respect to Jason it seems fairly clear that Carr would argue that Jason has not been offered, in an explicit way, moral education for development of virtues. Jason's models in life, it appeared to us, had taught him more about suppression than about proper expression of human emotion. It was also possible that Jason has been acting out of an absence of feeling for others. Carr feels that moral failure could easily be attributed to a lack of connection to others and not simply an inability to suppress negative emotions. Carr's point: I have taken the view that some definite initiation into those virtues or qualities 83 ordinarily acknowledged in the familiar human discourse of fundamental human association must lie at the heart of the moral education of all children and that parents and teachers who fail to acquaint their children with these fundamental dispositions of moral life are seriously reneging on the full educational implications of their roles as parents and teachers, (p. 6) Carr goes on to write that moral virtues are "goals of personal aspiration inspired by some objective conception of human flourishing or of what it is to live well" (p. 253). Perhaps, in Carr's eyes, Jason needs to have a concept of what a good life would look like for him. Once Jason has a conception of a good life then he would presumably be able to see a need for the virtues. It is quite likely, at this point, that Jason has no such vision or possibly even any understanding of why he would want to think of one. I wonder i f children such as Jason are able to go through life at home and at school without connecting to any model of acceptable moral behaviour. Is it possible that Jason, and other children like him, always have the bad fortune of being enrolled in classrooms with teachers who are morally vacuous? Both Nel Noddings and David Carr expound upon the need for moral education. Carr, again in line with Noddings' perspective, appears to feel that modeling is a powerful tool and: ...that moral education cannot be regarded as just another subject in the curriculum like physics or maths and that any pedagogy appropriate to its promotion is hardly susceptible of analysis in terms of techniques for the transmission or communication of academic theories or information. The supreme human value and significance of the moral virtues can be recognized only in their power to transform lives for the better in terms of individual character and social relations; we appreciate the worth of qualities of moral 84 character by observing how they operate in the lives of others, (p.9) It is impossible to believe, in my view, that teachers on the whole are behaving in amoral ways and that the intervention of scholars such as Carr and Noddings will induce them to change. Carr and Noddings would no doubt agree with me. I must then believe that most teachers do model admirable characteristics for their students even though they may also deny practicing any kind of moral education. Many children, I am sure, pick up on this modeling and incorporate it as part of their educational experience. Children like Jason, however, do not appear to do this. Since I do not believe that children such as Jason are partially the result of bad luck in terms of placement with teachers who model no admirable qualities of character, then moral education is far more than simply modeling the desirable behaviour. Once again Carr and Noddings would undoubtedly agree. In spite of my earlier claim about the good intentions of most teachers, I have seen teachers who otherwise present as kind and caring individuals turn against children like Jason in subtle (or not so subtle) ways. What I mean by this is that I have seen educators who will display admirable qualities of character and who will go out of their way for many needy children but when faced with a child who exhibits very few likeable characteristics will , out of frustration or upset at the effect the child may be having on the classroom environment, treat that child badly. This treatment will generally take the form of rejection or indifference. Early in this chapter I wrote about the difficulty of caring when caring is not easy or natural. The example I have just given speaks to that concern again. Perhaps then, as educators, we should not only be charged with the moral education of all children but also with the need to be keenly aware how the behaviour of our most difficult children can affect how we approach them. Carr claims that it is impossible to force anyone to be honest, fair, considerate, or 85 tolerant and "...moreover, it goes without saying that nothing I can say or do is likely to make them so i f they don't want to be..." (p. 261). I hope that he does not mean by this that children can, of their own free will , choose to become dishonest, cruel, and intolerant. It is my belief that children do not exhibit those characteristics out of choice, they have just never experienced, in sufficient quantity or quality, positive characteristics that wil l help meet their needs. Like Noddings and Young,Carr would almost certainly give priority to dialogue within his notion of an ethics of virtue. In Carr's view the conception of a virtuous life is the background for moral deliberation. Implied within this conception is dialogue. Can-has this to say: Moral thought does not operate in a vacuum, but from some particular perspective—from within the context of some substantial conception of the virtuous life. Thus whereas the modern view sometimes appears to be that no one who has already been trained in or habituated to a particular pattern of moral conduct is in a suitable position to reflect rationally on moral matters, Aristotle's view was that no one is able to deliberate about moral life unless they have acquired by experience and practice some clear understanding of the nature of the virtues. (1991, p. 254) This view leads me to believe that Carr would say that Jason, as he currently stands, cannot act compassionately, or even attempt to, unless he has some instruction and practice with what compassion means. Can believes in instruction of the virtues for children. He is not wonied that indoctrination may occur, but does recognize that this is a concern for others. The initial training could be objected to only on the grounds that it is 86 indoctrinative~but in training a child to be honest, self-controlled or considerate it is absurd to speak of indoctrination when there exist no alternative dispositions to truthfulness and self-discipline into which we might sensibly be said to be initiating children in the name of proper socialisation or education, (p. 254) Noddings' interpretation: Noddings is very wary of the notion of virtues and writes: As we have seen, caring is not itself a virtue. The genuine ethical commitment to maintain oneself as caring gives rise to the development and exercise of virtues, but these must be assessed in the context of caring situations. It is not, for example, patience itself that is a virtue but patience with respect to some infirmity of a particular cared-for or patience in instructing a concrete cared-for that is virtuous. (1984, p.96) For Noddings the conception of virtue is conceived within each new or continued act of care. Moral goals are redefined in each caring encounter and are not predetermined by "virtues" as they are defined by Carr. Noddings dismisses Carr's notion of virtues as too abstract: "When we discuss the ethical ideal, we shall be talking about 'virtue', but we shall not let 'virtue' dissipate into 'the virtues' described in abstract categories....The virtue described by the ethical ideal of one-caring is built up in relation" (1984, p.80). Noddings may find much in what Carr has to say that she can agree with, but using the virtues as a starting point for moral action is not among them. In the case of Jason, Noddings' moral action would start at the point of relation—relation with Jason. Where Carr would emphasize the instruction that is necessary to help Jason conceptualize a better life for himself, Noddings would emphasize the caring relationship that would 87 involve working towards that better life but also provide Jason with the support he needs to get there. The support I am describing would include confirming the best in him, not accepting the reprehensible, modeling caring concern, looking for ways to provide Jason with the practice he desperately needs in caring for others, and engaging in dialogue with him. Noddings and Carr—shared conceptions: As stated earlier, Noddings and Carr would, I believe, agree on much that the other has to say. One of the strongest points of agreement that I have found is in their belief that moral education is an unavoidable part of school life. Carr writes that it is as important for teachers and parents to "...attend as much to the cultivation of a child's natural sympathies and attachments towards others as to the discipline of his selfish instincts" (1991, p.253). Carr, in line with Noddings' thinking, sees care for others as part of the realm of morality and also finds it impossible to suppose that morality is driven by duty and obligation alone. Carr dislikes Kant's view of moral rationality because "...of the sharp wedge that it drives between the ideas of moral judgement and natural inclination" (1994, p. 193). Care, in Carr's interpretation as I see it, involves parents and teachers caring that children acquire the moral virtues. This may be somewhat analogous to Noddings' concern that parents, teachers and any others who cross a child's path care that the child learns to care for self and others. Another area in which Carr and Noddings seem to be in agreement is in the power of modeling. Modeling, for Noddings, is one essential part of moral education and is complemented by confirmation, practice and dialogue. Modeling, for Carr, is far more powerful than trying to instruct children directly in acquisition of the virtues. Carr writes: 88 The good teacher who is also by implication an effective moral educator is not the one, however, who is constantly extolling these virtues, so much as the one through whose conduct these virtues shine forth as examples to those in his charge and who is constantly concerned to encourage these qualities in others. (1991, p.259) While Noddings and Carr may argue that the outcomes of modeling may be different, in my view, the classroom practice—the "what does it look like?"—would be indistinguishable. I say this based on what they have both termed "natural inclination." I believe that teachers (most people for that matter) are inclined to treat one another well and how this behaviour looks(e.g. politeness, consideration, helpfulness, etc.) is similar from one person to the next. Philosophers may wish to make fine distinctions in definitions that pertain to their particular theory but this has very little to do with what is actually practiced in schools. Noddings and Carr—differing perspectives: Noddings has a number of concerns with what neo-Aristotelians such as Carr have to say. While her arguments are mainly with conceptions of community, which I will not be addressing here, she also has some important points to make regarding Aristotle's notion of the virtues. For Noddings the concept of virtue is built up in relation and is situational. Virtue in her eyes is conceived within each new or continued act of care. Noddings gives this example: The holy man living abstemiously on top of the mountain, praying thrice daily, and denying himself human intercourse may display 'virtues,' but they are not the virtues of one-caring. The virtue described by the ethical ideal of one-caring is 89 built up in relation. It reaches out to the other and grows in response to the other.(1984, p.80) Taking Noddings' example and relating it to Jason I can convert the 'holy man' to the educator I described before who, though he may display the virtues of honesty, integrity, and compassion, never displays these within a relational encounter with Jason. Jason may be able to watch these virtues in operation from afar and yet have no idea that these virtues could have any bearing on his life since he has had no direct experience, within a relationship, with them. Noddings' main concern with an ethics of virtue, I would then posit, is that it does not stress caring encounters (which implies relation) with others. This changes the nature of dialogue between teachers and students. For Carr, dialogue is focused on attaining the telos of a virtuous life; for Noddings, dialogue is about constructing that life. While deontologists like Young and Habermas would criticize the parochialism of Carr and Maclntyre in selecting moral ends, Noddings would, I believe, be more concerned about the lack of concern for situation involved in choosing those ends. Practical implications: > Dialogue is a common theme that runs implicitly through Carr's discussion and explicitly through Noddings'. For Carr the purpose of dialogue is to determine the type of action that needs to be engaged in in order to achieve particular ends that have already been determined to be good. The purpose of dialogue for Noddings is to determine not only the action but also the ends since she does not appear to believe that means and ends can possibly remain static. This is an important distinction and one that I believe that educators need to consider. I have found, in reading Carr, that this apparent lack of 90 concern for determining ends would have, I believe, a negative impact on established curriculum in that he does not seem to see a pressing need for change or at least for ongoing evaluation. Carr appears to be unconcerned with the content of curriculum as he feels that the main goal of education should be to educate children in a moral life. He Would much prefer that his child learns from a teacher who exhibits the virtues than one who is only able to convey specific content. I agree, but I am sure that Carr would be as dismayed as any of us i f any child was subjected to a teacher with no knowledge whatsoever to convey; his assumption is that a good teacher can properly teach the expected content but more importantly is able to develop the moral growth of his or her students. Noddings, for her part, agrees with Carr that the main purpose of schooling should be to "encourage the growth of competent, caring, loving, and lovable people" (1992, p.xiv). Noddings, however, does not feel that the positive moral growth of children erases the need to develop curriculum that is meaningful and purposive. Indeed, one of my points will be that we cannot separate education from personal experience. Who we are, to whom we are related, how we are situated all matter in what we learn, what we value, and how we approach intellectual and moral life.(1992, p.xii) Where Carr seems to see a clear distinction between moral education and curriculum, Noddings sees no such obvious delineation. Moral education is part of curriculum and is part of a student's life—separation does not exist in Noddings' mind. Dialogue then, for Noddings, must encompass all of that which affects the growth of our children: moral action, curriculum and life choices, to name only a few. So what does Carr have to say that could contribute to my understanding of my 91 job as vice-principal? It is encouraging for me that Carr recognizes that moral education is an unavoidable reality of life both in schools and homes. He sees it as part of the responsibility of parents and teachers to educate children in moral behaviour through educating for virtues. While I can agree wholeheartedly with Carr that moral education is unavoidable I have quite a bit of difficulty with educating children towards some predetermined set of behaviours that have been deemed to be good. I would hope, of course that children, and adults, would exhibit many of the virtues Carr speaks of, but as a result of seeing and coming to their own understanding that particular ways of behaving fit with a caring attitude. Carr's notion of the virtues seems, to me, to run the risk of becoming behaviours that are exhibited for the sake of exhibiting them and not necessarily because a reason has been discovered and accepted by the individual for acting that way. It seems to me that Noddings' theory allows for more personal choice and that duty and obligation, both notions that Carr rejects when used as the sole driver of moral behaviour, could—in spite of Carr's rejection—easily become catalysts for moral choice. As an educator I am much more comfortable with allowing the virtues, as Can-describes them, develop as a natural outcome of modeling, practice, confirmation, and engaging in dialogue about a caring approach. Noddings and other Feminist Approaches Criticisms and concerns: So far the direct challenge to Noddings' conception of caring has been fairly mild. That is to end. Feminist scholars, as a group, are more disparate than alike. The group of feminist scholars in the area of ethics is no different. Within this group, however, there are particular and common themes of critique that arise from various authors when 92 discussing Noddings' work. In general, the feminist scholars that I cite agree with Noddings' challenge to deontological and teleological approaches; they differ with her in defining a feminist alternative. In particular, each critic is concerned about the dangers they see in Noddings' depiction of a caring-and dialogical-relationship. They identify four hazards: tendencies for fostering guilt and dependency and susceptibility to exploitation and parochialism. The over-riding perspective that seems to link these themes is a concern on the part of these feminist scholars that Noddings has failed to adequately challenge what they call masculine ethics and that, as a result, women in particular are still vulnerable even within the parameters of Noddings' ethic of care. Even more broadly, it becomes clear upon reading various feminist critiques of Noddings' conception of caring, that there is an overwhelming concern with what caring really means. I started this chapter with a brief look at the difficulty involved when caring occurs in real-life as opposed to being explained, criticised and defended in the literature. I touched on the issue of the feelings of guilt I experience when I am unable to care in a manner that I expect for myself. I see this as a definite danger to implementing a caring approach in schools. I stated in an earlier chapter that many educators tend to be overachievers who set unrealistic expectations for themselves. This type of behaviour is reinforced through positive feedback from colleagues and evaluations from administrators. However, this attitude of overachievement can be a very self-destructive thing when these same educators set out to consciously adopt an ethic of care. Teachers generally feel an enormous sense of responsibility for their students. Consciously adopting an ethic of care, without fully comprehending all of the nuances that Noddings insists must be in place for true caring to occur, could easily add to 93 overwhelming feelings of responsibility and guilt. Blythe McVicker Clinchy, in her critique of Women and Evil , raises the concern that Noddings may be underestimating "...the self-destructiveness of women's 'obligation to respond'" (1990,p.l29). It does not seem to make sense to talk about a person as being someone who cares a little bit, or someone who usually cares. When we talk of caring we speak in absolutes. There are no degrees of caring; either you care or you do not care. For the educator who chooses to adopt an ethic of care, perfection in terms of thought and behaviour is implied. Barbara Houston (1990) describes what she terms a "moral paralysis" that can occur when the carer is caught in a situation where he or she feels bound to care for those who are hurtful and abusive. Houston goes on to say: " worry is that if the one-caring sees her moral worth as wholly dependent upon her capacity to care for others, or contigent upon being in relation, then she may opt to remain in relations which are harmful to her" (1990, p. l 17). This is an issue for schools as the egos and identities of many teachers are tied into their relationships with their students creating, in my opinion, unhealthy relationships. I have also seen this type of relationship, which generally carries with it issues of power and control, between staff members. Houston's example points to the difficulty of Noddings' description of her ethic as a phenomenology. It seems to me that a phenomenological explanation is very useful for looking backward and describing an event as, or after, it happens, but it is much less useful when thinking about an event (the act of caring, specifically) before it occurs. When talking about implementing a caring ethic in schools we naturally must discuss the pre and current conditions necessary. Noddings, in my view, does not satisfactorily address this need. Other critics (e.g. Hoagland, 1990; Houston, 1990) have also written of their concerns around the issue of a caring ethic inducing guilt and dependency which then 94 leaves both the cared-for and the carer open to exploitation. The major complaint seems to centre around the concern that caring runs the risk of fostering relationships that are vulnerable to exploitation. Sarah Hoagland (1991) raises the concern of a mother who cares for her son. Hoagland points out that the only requirement for Noddings' version of reciprocity is that the cared-for acknowledge the caring. This could result, Hoagland fears, in a perpetuation of women being expected to always take on the role of carer. Hoagland writes: "I am not convinced that a child, especially a male child, who receives one-caring from his mother will ever learn to be one-caring himself. Rather, as is more consistent with my observation, such children learn to expect more one-caring— unidirectional—from all females" (1990, p. 110). This example of Hoagland's illustrates for me the point I made earlier about educators needing to understand the various nuances of Noddings' ethic. Hoagland's concern is a valid concern-not just for mothers—but for anyone who consciously, and even more so unconsciously, takes on the role of carer. It is very easy to get lost in the role and forget that caring, as an ethic, is much more than simply meeting the obvious physical and emotional needs of the other. I know this through personal experience. What Hoagland forgets is that it is also the responsibility of the carer to be concerned for the cared-for's moral development. In direct response to Hoagland's worry, Noddings writes: The great emphasis on moral education in Caring also blocks the complaint of exploitation. Everyone must learn to care, and an ethic of caring reminds us that we are responsible for each other's moral development. It matters whether I induce caring or not-caring or exploitative responses from you. But my responsibility does not reduce yours. Properly, caring applies to a relation, and 95 parties in both roles contribute to its maintenance. (1990,p.l23) This very emphasis on the caring relation is the concern of other critics such as Tronto and Card who worry about a narrow, parochial focus. Joan Tronto (1993b) takes issue with Noddings' perspective when discussing caring as an ethic. Tronto outlines, what she calls the "dangers" of caring, which are paternalism and parochialism. She feels that these dangers serve to narrow the perspective and distort a notion of caring in the broader sense. Tronto sees paternalism, a clear and present danger in schools, and parochialism as supporting individualism when one is caring. Tronto writes: "Further, care is perceived in such particularistic and local terms that it is difficult to envision how this concept can help with the broad task of redefining moral and political boundaries" (1993, p.102). Claudia Card, in her critique of Noddings, espouses a similar sentiment: "...resting all of ethics on caring threatens to exclude as ethically insignificant our relationships with most people in the world, because we do not know them individually and never wil l" (1990, p,102). While I tend to agree with Tronto and Card in the broader sense, I do see an ethic of care's strength, when placed in the context of schools, as coming from its focus on the local and particular. If engaging in parochialism means that I am blind to the outside world of thought and action, then I agree it is a danger. If however, it can be taken to mean that I must focus on that which is close and immediate in order to provide the best care that I can for the children that I work with, then I see it as, quite possibly, a good thing. Practical Implications: I would like to take a look now at how I believe the feminist group would approach Jason's problem. I stated at the beginning of the chapter that the feminist group 96 is a disparate one so I will attempt only a general discussion incorporating the larger issues of concern, namely: dependency, exploitation and guilt. Probably the most significant difference between how Noddings might approach Jason and how the feminist group would has to do with a more long-term perspective. It is quite conceivable, to me, that Noddings and the feminist critics may resolve the immediate dilemma in a similar manner. The feminist critics, however, would be asking a great many questions regarding the nature of the relation between Jason and the carer. This group would be looking for evidence of dependency on the part of Jason. Questions they may ask could include: Is Jason able to take responsibility for his actions? Can he resolve problems without the intervention of the carer? Is he truly learning to care for others from this experience? The feminist critics, for the most part, would be rather sceptical that the responses to those questions would be entirely affirmative given the approach to caring espoused by Noddings. They would also want to check very closely what the attitude of the carer is: Is she able to place this incident within a larger ethical framework or is she so totally immersed in this caring relation that perspective is lost? Is there evidence of an overwhelming sense of obligation and guilt within the context of this relation; is Jason, or anyone else taking advantage of the carer's natural inclination to care and i f so is the carer able to see this? These questions, for me, are extremely important and need to be reflected upon by any person finding themselves, by choice or circumstance, in the role of carer. One of the main purposes I originally had for embarking upon this investigation was to try and discover ways to implement and evaluate caring as a way of being with children and adults in schools. I specifically wanted to look at myself, as an administrator, attempting to adopt an ethic of care to help guide my interactions with 97 students, staff and parents. I quickly discovered that moving to a consciously caring style was extremely difficult. In an earlier chapter I described the difficulties encountered when deviating from accepted administrator behaviour. Critics other than myself have voiced their discomfort over Noddings' apparent lack of concern with " institutions constrain or encourage our ability to care" (Liston, 1991, p.210). I thought at first, and in many ways I still do, that this would be the major stumbling block to establishing a caring attitude in schools. However, I discovered other issues that needed to be explored before I could state that I had weighed all of the positive and negative aspects of caring and was willing to declare that "the challenge to care" was a challenge that should be taken up in schools. Previously mentioned critics, such as Card, Houston and Hoagland, have brought up the worry that Noddings' premise of caring leading to caring can actually lead to dependency and an expectation on the part of the cared-for that there will always be someone to care for him or her (e.g. Hoagland, 1990). While I agree that this may be possible, I agree only to the extent of considering a situation in which caring occurs in isolation with no thought to the moral growth of the cared-for. Having said that however, i f there is no thought to the development of the cared-for then it must be argued that caring has not occurred. Obviously then, more than just the input of the carer and the acknowledgement by the cared-for must occur for the cared-for to learn to become one-caring. As I stated before, this is what many of Noddings' critics fail to consider. Some F i na l Thoughts on Jason I would like to continue my story with Jason. My interactions with Jason epitomise the encounters that cause me the most discomfort. While the incidents 98 described throughout this chapter occurred, they are not typical of all of my encounters with this boy. Generally I am able to take the time he needs and listen to his concerns, as well as that of the teacher or other offended party, and hopefully make him feel cared-for yet fully accountable for his behaviour. I have many, many caring encounters with Jason in which I model a caring attitude. I could stop there and walk away feeling satisfied, but I would not be practicing an ethic of care i f I did that as it must matter to me that Jason also learn to care for others. Herein lies another of my concerns with implementing caring in schools. Gregory Smith in his critique of The Challenge to Care in Schools writes: "In many respects, Noddings' vision of schooling is a vision for children who live in a healthy and supportive society. At issue is how we get from here to there" (1994, p.117). What Smith seems to be implying is that for many children in our schools being cared for, in the manner Noddings describes, is a foreign experience. These children enter our schools, in many cases, with a concern for survival. Caring for these children is extremely difficult because they have had years of learning how not to trust or believe. I have discovered that a large percentage of these children, as they get older and particularly if they have been subject to some nasty life experiences, are less willing to be cared for. It is generally accepted that most children who come to school with a vast background of exposure to print learn to read quickly and easily. Children for whom reading is a common and pleasurable experience in their homes bring to school with them an attitude that paves the way to academic success. I would like to extrapolate those findings to caring i f I may. It makes perfect sense to me that children who come to school with a wealth of experience in caring and being cared-for at home will benefit enormously from the form of moral education Noddings suggests. Conversely, children 99 who arrive with little background take a much longer time learning and accepting what caring has to offer. Part of the difficulty with moral education at school is that it is not necessarily reinforced at home, particularly in the case of children Smith alludes to. Smith questions how we get children from where they are to where we would like them to be. This question is one that is continually asked when referring to the learning of children who are at risk. The answer in my mind would be slowly, gently, and with care. Jason is not one of those children who refuses to accept my care, although he wil l put up a pretty good fight at times. I have found Jason open to certain aspects of Noddings' version of moral education, particularly confirmation. When I, or any other adult at the school, makes a point of making explicit to Jason the things that he is doing well and why he is doing them well, Jason responds with increased effort and apparent pride in his abilities. Jason also responds in this way when a kindness, on his part, to another person is recognized and celebrated. Jason is slowly building up a bank of experiences that confirms that he is a person of worth who has much to offer. Jason is 9 years old and has already seen a side of life that few of us would care to experience. It is doubtful that I will see a monumental change in Jason's ability to care during my time with him. I have, however, faith in the knowledge that Jason has experienced being cared-for and is beginning to discover and develop his own areas of competence through the confirmation of those that care for him. Why do I see caring as an important way of being in schools? Why do I continue to battle attitudes that I consider hurtful to children? Why do I feel that adopting an ethic of care is better educationally? These are only a few of the questions that have been rattling around in my brain since I decided to take a serious look at caring and its implication for schools. Gregory Smith has begun to answer my questions as clearly and 100 as concisely as anyone I have read. Smith writes: ...schools devalue a significant share of the population. Instead of serving as a means to draw individuals into shared membership in the society as a whole, schools offer a differential membership depending on whether or not children demonstrate the skills and dispositions valued by the school. This may be one of the primary reasons behind the public's failure to support public education. For too many people, the schools have not supported them. An educational process genuinely directed toward the cultivation of caring would provide that support and encouragement for all children. (1994, p. 115,italics added) So who are these children who do not measure up to the values held by the school? I would argue that more rather than fewer of our children do not fit into the rigid structure that has become our schooling system. Children who disrupt the classroom, children who fight, children who are late, children who do not do their homework, children who question authority, children who are loud, children who are quiet, Jason.... all of these children, and many more, cause a disturbance, to a greater or lesser degree, in school. These disruptions have been met by the development of rules which require enforcement...and on it goes. What to do then? Certainly I am not advocating allowing children to run amok with loud, disruptive and possibly dangerous behaviour. What I am advocating however, is a different look at children and their place in the organization of school. As educators in schools we need to begin valuing children as individuals who deserve our care and support and not just as small people who need to be reined in and trained. I believe that caring is an excellent way to approach this challenge. I know that as I say this I run the risk of instilling the wrath of many educators. How dare I imply that educators are not a caring lot? In many ways, the institutionalization of 101 schools has prevented or discouraged educators from acting in truly caring ways. There are so many rules and regulations and expectations that often the emotional well-being of children gets lost in the daily shuffle. Lynn Beck has also noticed this. She writes: "Although few educators are against it and most believe that they practice it, caring as it relates to schooling remains an elusive concept" (1992, p.455). Schooling as we now know it does not easily allow for caring, at least in the form that I believe Noddings intends. As an administrator I am in a unique position to influence the behaviour and attitudes of the adults and children with whom I work. This admission is not earth shattering. The issue for me is how to use the privileged position I hold to model and encourage caring in others. It is also important that I hold myself accountable to approach my work with children in a caring manner but without the self-flagellation that comes with guilt when my actions do not always match the ideal I hold of caring. I have gone on about why caring is needed in schools. I have discussed some of the challenges to caring. Given the problems how would I propose to establish an ethic of care in school? I turn now to the final chapter and attempt to place the discussion of the previous chapters squarely in the here and now, the reality of schools. 102 I Chapter 5 Accepting the Challenge to Care The man in front of me bore an uncanny resemblance to the Grade 5 teacher down the hall. This person however, had a face that was bright red and perspiring and hands that were tightly clenched. He had, in tow, a child who apparently was the cause of the strange transformation of Mr. Jones from mild-mannered classroom teacher to the vision that was barely in control before me. "Robert will not disrupt my teaching anymore today! He must learn to behave or he will not be allowed to return to my classroom!" With that, Mr. Jones turned on his heel and stomped down the hall and back into his classroom. Robert and I eyed each other carefully. How do I, as a school administrator, go about battling attitudes that expect children to conform to a particular rigid standard within school? How do I perform that balancing act that shows I value the learning environment in the classroom and understand that serious disruptions cannot be tolerated with the belief I hold that we cannot treat any child like a product that can be thrown away or stuffed in a closet i f it proves to be defective in some way? For me this is the critical starting point to implementing an ethic of care in a school, the modeling of how to care for our most difficult children while at the same time not allowing their noxious behaviour to adversely affect others. 103 Implementing a care ethic in schools is ultimately for the benefit of children. The reality however, is that as a school administrator, the success of any kind of change wil l lie in my skill as a teacher of teachers. Throughout my story the focus has primarily been on my relationships with children. I would like to shift that focus now and look carefully at how my role as a vice-principal can influence adults in a school towards accepting the challenge to care. Using Noddings' model of moral education as a framework will help aid in my discussion. I will use this framework since there is an obvious connection, for me, when talking of the moral growth of adults—the search for "wide-awakeness" (Greene, 1978)--and the moral growth of children. The learning of children and adults can be inextricably intertwined. This in fact, for me, is part of my definition of what makes a good school. For each of Noddings' components of moral education I will talk about what I would do to support this approach and the barriers I might possibly have to overcome. Model ing June, our school's teaching assistant, was disgusted. "These children need to be taught some respect. I can't ever come into the office without tripping over kids! They should be outside of the building during lunchtime; they have no business being in here causing confusion." I promptly engaged some of those 'bothersome' children in conversation to let them know that I welcomed their presence and was pleased that they felt comfortable in their school. June was not impressed. Modeling, a critical component of Noddings' conception of moral education, shows staff, students, and parents whaf I believe in with regard to the treatment of others. 104 Modeling is the action that goes with the words. I can say I believe in a caring approach but that is meaningless unless I actively demonstrate for others what I mean by that. Noddings puts it this way: For example, professors of education and school administrators cannot be sarcastic and dictatorial with teachers in the hope that coercion will make them care for students. I have heard administrators use this excuse for 'being tough' with teachers—'because Icare about the kids of this state'—but, of course, the likely outcome is that teachers will then turn attention protectively to themselves rather than lovingly to their students. (1992, p.22) Modeling caring behaviour must extend beyond the children to all of the adults in a school. As a school administrator I am in a position to influence the behaviour and attitudes of many people towards caring for children; modeling is a powerful way of doing this. Brian McCadden also made a call for adminstrators to recognize the importance of modeling when he wrote: There is too much work still to be done concerning changing the mind-sets of teachers, students, parents, administrators, and teacher educators before wholesale changes to caring school structures can be attempted. Rather than implementing a caring program, experientialists might be better served by modeling caring for others in their work, through living caring lives, and through continuous dialogue on what it means to care. (1996, p.345) In order to promote consideration of a caring approach in school among staff and parents, I have found it necessary to be as explicit as possible regarding my thinking about how we should be treating children and each other. Modeling a caring approach is crucial. However, I have realized that without some form of regular dialogue about my 105 practice it is unlikely to be considered by others as applicable to their practice. It has been my experience that other staff members may recognize what I am doing, may comment positively on the caring nature of my actions and still continue to act towards children in ways that are contrary to an ethic of care. Why would this be so? When considering what we know about learning it should not be surprising that modeling alone will not bring about the desired result. Imagine a classroom where all the teacher does is model the learning with no discussion, practice or feedback. Would we be shocked when little learning occurs? Of course not. It is the same, I believe, when attempting to change adults' harmful, or at the very least less than helpful, ways of managing childrens' behaviour. Certainly caring ways of addressing problem behaviour need to be modeled, but discussion, practice and feedback also need to occur for any impact on the practice of others to be seen. I feel very strongly about the importance of establishing a caring approach in schools because no matter which pro-social programs we teach children in the classroom (e.g. Second Step, bully prevention lessons), unless children see the adults in their school lives acting in ways that mesh with what the programs are telling them, no meaningful learning will occur. If children are taught to recognize and reject bullying behaviours from their peers, yet are subjected to bullying behaviours on the part of teachers, or other adults within the school, the message will be confusing to say the least. Many children will learn that it is not acceptable to treat other children badly when you are a child, but that it seems to be perfectly acceptable when you are an adult who wields some authority. My point in all of this is that modeling is extremely important but it cannot stand alone in order to effect meaningful change. Modeling is the "doing" that goes with the "saying." It may be possible to model the type of attitude and action I would like to see 106 others practice, but I also must be prepared to talk openly and honestly with those others about what I am doing and why. I must also provide feedback and opportunities for others to practice the kind of caring behaviour that I value in schools. Dialogue Our fundamental educational problem today is not one of turning schools into better engines of increased economic productivity and growth, or of finding more and more directive ways to inculcate students with a body of "basic facts" that we presume they need to know. It is in finding ways to involve schools in creating and maintaining conditions in which inclusive, democratic, and open-ended dialogue can thrive. (Burbules, 1993, p.151) As with modeling, dialogue~the open and honest talk I just referred to— cannot stand alone. Talk without action is like a song that has words but no music. Dialogue is the sense-making, the attempt at understanding our actions and the effect those actions have on ourselves and others around us. Dialogue with adults, and children for that matter, involves a sincere interest in hearing what the other has to say. Dialogue cannot occur i f any one person has decided at the outset of the conversation what the outcome will be. In order to implement true dialogue with adults in schools I, as a teacher leader, need to take a very close look at my own assumptions and beliefs around the administrator-staff and administrator-parent relationship in school. Administrators who focus on their own power are unlikely to encourage dialogue. If however, administrators are willing to build a relationship of trust 107 with staff and parents then dialogue has a better chance of occurring. The relational aspect of dialogue is very important. Noddings makes it clear that relation is ontologically basic to an ethic of care. In light of this, it stands to reason that i f I value caring then I must also value the quality of relationships I maintain within the school. Robert Starratt has this to say about relationships between school administrators and teachers: "The administrator who is concerned with nurturing the growth of teachers will have to ensure that teachers experience the relationship with the administrator as one of regard, mutual respect, and honest contact between two persons" (1991, p.196). I would extend Starratt's observation to include all staff members in a school, teaching and non-teaching. It is a far too often overlooked fact that within a school teachers are not the only adults with considerable influence upon children. Gaining the trust of staff members, I believe, is a critical first step to developing dialogic relations with them. I have discovered that staff members who trust me also allow me to get to know them in terms of who they are, what they believe in, and what their hopes are for themselves and the children they work with. I discover this about them through dialogue; they will also discover my beliefs and hopes for the adults and children I work with. I cannot state it any more strongly than this: I must know the people I work with. Without knowledge of the person I cannot hope to create a truly caring relation with them that, I believe, will ultimately result in their developing more caring relationships with their students. So what does my dialogic relationship with staff members have to do with the moral education of children in school? The key word is relationship. Children are very observant and will watch not only my interaction with them but also my interactions and corresponding relations with others. My interacting in a caring manner with the adults in 108 the school is another way of modeling caring behaviour for children. Of particular concern for me however, is how my interactions with difficult staff members are perceived by children and adults. I must take extra care to ensure that my manner is respectful and caring even if the relationship itself may be on shaky ground. It is clear to me that dialogue is one ingredient essential to effecting change in a school towards a more caring style. In fact, a lack of meaningful dialogue, I would argue, is the one great barrier to caring in schools. What then is the barrier to dialogue? What stops educators from engaging in conversation about that which has so much meaning for them? The one hindrance that I see to sustaining any kind of dialogue is safety. There must be a safe place, emotionally as well as physically, for dialogue to occur. This safe place that I am speaking of really means that a climate of trust has been built up through relationships among the adults who work with children in school. How do I create this safe place? I create it slowly and carefully and start by modeling the type of discussion I would hope to engage in with others. I will expose my thinking and take risks in allowing others to know that I do not have all the answers and that I too struggle with what is the best way to act. I will invite others to talk with me about my concerns and hope that eventually they will share theirs with me and discover that they will not be negatively judged for making explicit their feelings, worries and concerns around children and education. I would like to take some time to expand a little on the barriers I see to dialogue occurring in schools. While I have mentioned the need for relationship building and providing safe environments where discussion can happen I have not discussed the difficulties presented by the job I do. I have alluded to the fact that today's administrator is being forced by the particular demands of the job farther from children, but what I have 109 not yet mentioned is that these same demands also make extended contact with teaching and support staff difficult. Noddings speaks of the importance of continuity of people, place and time. In order to develop strong relationships with the people I work with I need to spend time with them. It is a very simple formula that often is so hard to effect. A l l administrators need to decide for themselves where their priorities are going to lie with respect to use of time. I have chosen to use my time in interacting with people. The paperwork is never ending, but somehow always gets done whether I make it my first priority or my last. I made a conscious decision early in my administrative career that I was not going to allow the demands of an impersonal system to override the absolute necessity of keeping in close contact with the most important element of education, namely the adults and children who make up schools. Whenever I begin to feel overwhelmed by district demands (e.g. facilities, accounting, maintenance) I stop and ask myself a basic question: What am I here for? The answer of course is that I am here to assist in the education of children and that this is where most of my energies need to lie. When looked at from this perspective I discover that I have less difficulty finding the time necessary to give to the people around me. Another barrier to promoting dialogue in schools that I have not really touched on is the issue of confrontational staff members. The current union climate in many districts has resulted in some staff members taking on an "us against them" mentality that in my experience rarely has anything to do with providing good educational experiences for children. In most schools in which I have worked this element is relatively small and has little influence over other staff members. However, there are some schools in which the balance has been tipped and where a climate of distrust is pervasive and many voices are silenced. Not having had personal experience in such schools I can only hazard a guess, 110 but I would not be surprised i f it was found that the quality of education in such schools was lacking. Being an administrator in such a school would entail a great deal of time and energy in relationship building. In such a school dialogue may take several years to occur as an element of trust and desire to .share must precede it. I do not want to leave the impression that unions are responsible for all our woes in schools, it is more that the current labour climate in education is a relatively new phenomenon with which both union and non-union staff are still trying to come to terms. Perhaps as time goes on the often acrimonious nature of labour relations will ease and develop into one of cooperation and, dare I hope, a focus on the children we are here to educate. Conf i rmat ion When we engage in confirmation with children we attribute "the best possible motive consonant with reality" (Noddings, 1992, p.25). When we engage in confirmation with adults we are doing the very same thing. Confirmation however, is more than merely pointing out and celebrating the "good stuff, it can only be truly effective when it is grounded in relation. Noddings has this to say: "It is worth repeating that confirmation cannot be done by formula. A relation of trust must ground it. Continuity is required, because the carer in acting to confirm must know the cared-for well enough to be able to identify motives consonant with reality" (1992, p.25). Confirmation, when speaking of adults, can take many forms. Not letting acts of poor judgement or occasional bad behaviour become the definition of the person is one example of this. Of course, as Noddings herself points out, this does not mean that we accept or ignore behaviour or action that is reprehensible, it means only that we do not 111 castigate others with no thought to allowing for the possibility of changing attitudes and ways of acting. In chapter 41 discussed concerns raised by Joan Tronto regarding the danger of paternalism that she feels can be inherent in an ethic of care. Engaging in confirmation with adults may be an excellent example of where the danger of paternalism can become very real. It is important to remember that as an administrator I can try to act as the mirror for someone else, but not as the seer. I cannot allow myself to fall into the trap of thinking that I know best. In the end it is others who must decide for themselves what forms of action they will pursue; I can only point out to them the better self I may have seen or suspect is there. When confirming the best in children I can actively teach them to recognize caring ways of behaving; with adults I can only respectfully suggest. How far I am able to go with this will be wholly dependent, I believe, on the depth of my relation with them. Why would I want to go to the extra effort required to engage in confirmation with staff members and possibly even parents? My first answer to this question is because it is the caring thing to do and because it models a caring concern for people, but beyond that I also realize that how the people in the school feel about themselves and the job they are doing, positively or negatively as the case may be, affects the climate or tone of a school. Confirmation has as its goal the intention of helping people develop and strengthen positive, caring ways of interacting with other people. This, in turn, can only positively affect the culture of a school. It has been my experience that many, i f not most, parents look first to a school's culture when trying to decide upon the best place for their son or daughter. I field more questions about how our school treats children than I do about academic programs. I also know, from experience, that staff (myself included) tend to be far happier working in a . 112 school that has a warm, positive climate than in a school that may have a reputation for academic excellence but is cold and unwelcoming. This, I believe, tells me a great deal about what people value about schools. I referred, in a previous chapter, to Daniel Liston's comments about how organizations "constrain or encourage our ability to care" (1991, p.210). As an administrator I need to be very cognizant of the current climate of the school I work in; particularly i f it is in any way antithetical to a caring climate. Noddings speaks strongly in terms of what we, as educators, must do in our attempts to create caring schools. Liston has pointed out a concern that I have also held concerning Noddings' apparent lack of understanding of the nature of schools as organizations. Liston writes: "Noddings briefly examines the structure of elementary and secondary schools, but she doesn't seem to give due recognition to how our ability to care can be radically constrained or facilitated by our social institutions and social structure" (p.210). It is all well and good for Noddings to demand caring structures, but the administrator who does not carefully analyze the nature of the climate in his or her school and work with it to slowly bring about change is, in my opinion, doomed to failure. I have to remind myself however, that school climate is not a tangible object that can be seen or felt. School climate is really only jargon for the overall effect of how people in a particular organization operate within that organization in terms of relationships with each other. Poor or non-existant relationships will undoubtedly lead to unwelcoming or, in extreme cases, hostile climates. Schools in which caring relationships are valued and practiced cannot help but have that reflected in the overall climate of the school. The point I am trying to make is that a climate of care cannot be imposed from the outside by an administrator. In order to experience a climate of care it 113 is essential to lay the groundwork of care in terms of relationships and moral education, including confirmation, that Noddings writes of. Many times I have wondered whether this way of acting is really making a difference. The unsolicited feedback I receive from parents, staff and visitors about the school very quickly erases my fears. Comments such as: "I wish my school felt like this when I was a kid," "The warmth in this building is tangible," and "I can't believe the change in the last few years. What we have here is special." While none of the commentators point to reasons for the feeling in the school, the fact that these kinds of comments are occurring more frequently tells me that something worthwhile is happening-that something, I believe, is care. Practice Educational practice is assumed, in many minds, to be a caring practice. Parents, the public, the media, and students, to mention only a few, expect that the teachers they encounter will exhibit the qualities that are associated with what Noddings calls caring. I feel comfortable making this statement as I have had the sorry experience on far too many occasions of adjudicating between differing perceptions, on the part of a parent and teacher, as to what those qualities should be and whether or not the teacher possesses them. When parents particularly, feel that their child's teacher is not a caring individual they can become very distressed. These parents may say that the teacher is not covering the curriculum or that their child is not learning, but most often they will say that their child is not happy. A child who is unhappy is a child who is not well set up for learning. The practice of caring, and conversely the lack of caring, can have a profound influence on education. Ironically this has not been the major focus of the media which tends to treat 114 education as the acquisition of a commodity rather than the pursuit of worthwhile and caring lives. The politicians and public in response to media reports, worry about the apparent lack of standards and accountability in education. Solutions are devised for problems that are never clearly defined. When one solution does not work another is put in its place, but no one, in my experience, seems to be very much interested in discovering whether there really is a problem at all. I would argue that while education is certainly not problem-free it does not need to concern itself with raising standards or increasing accountability for the quality of product in order to do a good job. It seems to make more sense to be looking at why some children and some schools are not achieving and address the particular reasons for that (which may have very little to do with curriculum and instruction) rather than trying a blanket approach (such as raising standards and pushing for more testing) that does nothing to help solve the deeper underlying concerns. Noddings would argue that the simple act of caring would go a long way to addressing so many of the concerns plaguing our schools today. Those who believe that the liberal arts curriculum should be transmitted to all children often focus so intently on subject matter that they ignore the relational nature of teaching and learning. Noddings argues that without attending to the creation of educational environments in which students can experience a sense of communion with other learners, the engagement that is a necessary prerequisite to mastery will in most cases not develop. (Smith, 1994, p. 112) That creation of educational environments that Smith refers to is, for me, the greatest educational benefit of the practice of care in schools. It should not take much of a leap to understand that children who are cared for, listened to, respected, and generally made to feel worthwhile are going to approach academic tasks with a heightened sense of "I can." 115 Adults too benefit from working in an educational environment that fosters a sense of personal accomplishment and pride in what is being offered to others. I would now like to shift from my discussion to a topic that I have found to be one of the largest barriers, personally, to establishing a caring ethic. I am referring to discipline, which I define as the attempt, by adults, to influence a child's behaviour to fit particular norms within a school community. Discipline "It's time that we had a Code of Conduct at this school. Children need to know exactly what's expected of them and that consistent consequences will be applied when they step out of line." While I had heard this type of comment before, I was very distressed because this time it was coming from the mouth of a teacher that I had felt was a caring individual who valued problem-solving discussion with children over a 'one size fits all' system of punishment. What was it, I wondered, that caused so many educators to desire, or think that they might want, perfectly managed control of children's behaviour? The one issue more than any of the others—rightly or wrongly—that will cause the greatest tension for any caring administrator, I believe, is differing conceptions of what constitutes discipline. Wrapped up in the issue of discipline are all of the values held so dear by many people within the educational realm; values such as justice, individual rights, personal safety, and respect for persons, to name only a few. Many interpretations of these values, and what to do when those values are compromised can be in direct opposition to a caring approach to discipline. Skills in classroom management have always been a valued component of 116 teaching. Certainly they are important since it is extremely difficult to maintain a discussion with students or engage in instruction i f one or two others are putting all their energies into disrupting whatever flow has been established in the room. Where it becomes problematic however, in terms of caring, is when classroom management becomes a vehicle for exerting control over a child and when that control becomes the end to be achieved. I have seen it turn into a vicious escalating cycle for many teachers whereby they attempt to exert control over the student, the student is obliged to maintain some dignity by reacting in some manner, which then forces the teacher to attempt to exert more control either themselves or through the school administrator. I have often wondered, but never really discovered, where this apparent penchant, or preference for punitive discipline or control on the part of many educators has come from. In my experience, it is a common method of "dealing with children" in many schools. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that punitive discipline is usually quick and highly visible; it looks as i f something of substance is being done. Caring discipline, on the other hand, involves time and discussion and a variety of interventions but rarely results in punishment. A caring approach to discipline is less tangible in many ways and certainly far less exciting for observers. Teachers and parents appear to want action that shows what they perceive as leadership and that brings the offending event to a strong and decisive resolution. Caring does this but in a quieter and many times slower way than many teachers and parents would like. Caring discipline should, as its primary focus, involve interventions that promote pro-social learning. Alfred Kohn made this point about the ineffectiveness of punishment when he wrote: "at best, punishment teaches nothing about what one is supposed to do—only about what one is not supposed to do. There is an enormous difference between not beating up one's peers, on the one hand, and 117 being helpful, on the other" (1991, p.500). As Kohn states, punishment alerts the child to what not to do next time; pro-social interventions, on the other hand, are aimed at helping children understand what they should do. A caring administrator needs to be aware that attitudes toward discipline that can include punishment for the sake of control are common and people who espouse this approach to children's unsettling behaviour quite often believe that it does make a difference and that children need it. These people want to know that justice has been served, meaning that the "guilty" party has been punished. They see this as an important message to send to the other children as well. Administrators who choose to take up the challenge to care need to confront and challenge such attitudes, not a comfortable task, yet an essential one. ' I would like to relate a story from my practice that I hope exemplifies a little of what I mean by caring discipline. I have stated previously that modeling is a critical component in the moral education of children. However, without opportunities for practice children (and adults as I have already argued) are less likely to put into practice the behaviour they see being modeled. This is where the direct education of children becomes tricky for administrators. While some administrators, particularly vice-principals, do teach in classrooms many do not, making direct contact with children an activity that needs to be scheduled. This may seem to be a sad commentary on the state of education today, but it is the reality that far too many educational administrators are being forced, by the demands of their jobs, further from children. The one contact with children however, that is unlikely to be taken away from the role of administrators is working with children who exhibit difficult behaviours. Previously I discussed caring discipline as involving the use of pro-social interventions rather than punishment. 118 Carefully chosen interventions can be a perfect opportunity for allowing children to practice caring behaviour. Let me give my example by telling Rachelle's story. Rachelle came to my school in October of her grade 2 year, or I should say her 7th year of life as she had never been to school with hundreds of other children before. Up until this point, Rachelle had been home-schooled with her younger brother in the quiet of their kitchen. Family circumstances were forcing Rachelle's mother to return to work and consequently enrol Rachelle, and her 5 year old brother, in public school. It became painfully clear within a few days that Rachelle, while excited at the prospect of being around other children and making friends, had no idea as to what the behavioural norms were in this new place. Rachelle exhibited behaviours, that while no doubt were manageable in the home with immediate intervention, were quickly escalating to out-of-control actions in the "please wait your turn" world of school. Rachelle and I became well-acquainted within a very short space of time. While I did not believe that Rachelle's behaviour issues were as a consequence of having been home-schooled, it was apparent that Rachelle was used to receiving adult attention the moment she needed it. This could not happen at school, at least not with the rapidity she had become accustomed to. This led to Rachelle to feeling frustrated and unable to cope with her feelings; this was undoubtedly frightening for her. In a vain attempt to gain the attention she was used to Rachelle would employ many disruptive, and at times bordering on dangerous, behaviours in order to bring an adult running to her. The usual adult reaction was to quick-step Rachelle into my office. "She ought to be suspended." This comment made its way back to me through the grape-vine which often, unfortunately, substituted for open and honest dialogue. I knew that this comment was being spoken out of frustration and not caring concern for the 119 child, but it let me know that Rachelle was not going to be given much leeway for her behaviour in her classroom. I decided that I was going to have to try and teach this child, through my use of disciplinary interventions, alternate ways of behaving to help her reach her goal which was undoubtedly to feel safe, secure and cared for. I made sure that Rachelle apologized when necessary (trying to make sure that she understood why she was apologizing, of course!) and helped her try to make right what she had been responsible for making go wrong. Beyond this however, I also had to teach her what to do instead of hitting and hurting or yelling. Rachelle had no idea what to do when another child made her feel sad or angry, her first response was to lash out. I had to provide Rachelle with support structures to help her practice alternate ways of behaving. To do this I had to elicit the cooperation of her classroom teacher in allowing Rachelle to come directly to me if she felt explosive or even just overwhelmed by the demands of a large classroom. When Rachelle came to me we would plan ways for her to deal with her problem. Rachelle would go back into the classroom, try it out and I would check with her to see how it had gone. Initially Rachelle would come to me after she had exploded and we would go the round of apologies and restitution before we could get to the "what could I do insteads." Eventually however, Rachelle began to recognize the warning signs and would slip out before she reacted. As time went by (most of the year in fact) Rachelle began to need my support less and less in helping practice new ways of acting. I firmly believe that i f I had simply suspended Rachelle or given her punitive consequences I would never have seen a noticeable change in her way of interacting with others because no one would have been teaching her how. While Rachelle's story sounds straightforward and logical, in reality it was very hard for me to operate this way. Caring discipline takes time-in Rachelle's case it took 120 all year. As a vice-principal, even though I was the only on-site administrator, my teaching load was 70%. It does not take much thought to realize that I was not often readily available whenever Rachelle needed me. I had to put procedures in place to make sure that I could accomplish what I needed to with Rachelle without compromising the education of the children I was teaching at the time. These procedures meant that Rachelle needed to have a place to go where she could wait for me without causing disruption to other classrooms or the office staff. She also needed to have meaningful activities to do in that place to keep her occupied. These activities, along with the necessary materials, had to be readily available for Rachelle to access on her own. The classroom teacher needed to be comfortable with the fact that Rachelle might be gone longer than the teacher would have liked when she left to see me. I needed to acknowledge for Rachelle that I was aware that she was there and then give her a commitment as to how long I would be before I could come and talk with her. Of course, i f I had not believed that my interventions with Rachelle were going to make any difference in the long run it would have been hard to justify the amount of extra time and energy needed to put those procedures in place. I had faith however, that Rachelle's visits to me would eventually decrease in frequency, which is what happened as Rachelle began to learn and practice new behaviours. Providing children with practice in caring behaviour takes more thought and intentionality of purpose in that opportunities for practice need to be carefully sought out or arranged for some children. Helping children understand what motivates them to choose certain ways of acting could help them intentionally choose positive ways. Rachelle, for example, needed attention and sometimes needed a quiet space when the stimulus of the classroom became too much. Teaching Rachelle positive ways of 121 meeting those goals was what she needed to help her behave in a manner more in line with the norms of school. Those few children who intentionally, time and again, choose negative ways of acting probably need more intensive and particular interventions than any school administrator can hope to give. These children however/still need to know that they are cared for. Personal Reflection The day had been a long and exhausting one. There had been a silent battle going on between two staff members over some issue that made no sense to me. It had poured with rain all day, necessitating the planning of activities for more children indoors at lunchtime. This just about put June over the edge. David had picked a fight with Jason which had spilled over into the classroom and eventually resulted in Jason trying to run away. The babysitter had phoned to tell me that my house had been broken into. Ifinally lost my patience after listening to June's umpteenth complaint about how noisy the children were and that she couldn't be expected to get any work done with the racket that was going on. I ended up not doing a very goodjob of modeling caring behaviour. When I first began to investigate caring and its bearing on my practice I would spend many hours wrapping myself in layers of guilt. I had decided that i f I was going to espouse caring as an essential way of being with children in schools then I had better be the most caring person that school had ever seen. I felt that I had no right to talk about an ethic of caring i f I could not fulfill all of its requirements myself. I realize now that I was taking Noddings' philosophy to heart without allowing a 122 touch of reality to creep in. Noddings speaks of the ethical ideal, and it is just that—an ideal. The reality, while no less demanding, is somewhat different. I have come to the understanding that guilt from failure to reach impossible goals may be paralyzing. M y sense of debilitating guilt is one of the dangers of a caring approach recognized by the feminist scholars I discussed in the previous chapter. Guilt, as I have experienced it, can be a very powerful and potentially destructive force. Thankfully I learned to control it ...most of the time. A n ethic of care has at its heart an emotional component that is not as readily apparent in other ethical perspectives. As a result caring touches an emotional chord within those of us who believe in its power. This emotional component cannot be done away with, but it can be put in perspective. I cannot stress too strongly the importance of frequent, ongoing personal reflection when looking at my practice as a caring one. Reflection is necessary in order to keep ethical tabs on myself but also to establish personal boundaries and to keep up the fight against guilt and the building of outrageous and unrealistic expectations for myself. Concluding my Story I have identified and discussed some issues that I believe schools will face when working towards a conscious caring style. I have discussed concerns around discipline and the conflicting values that are at work within schools when dealing with this topic. I talked about the critical importance of relationship building, with children certainly, but also with adults. School climate I described as a kind of measurement tool to ascertain whether the hard work as establishing a caring culture was having an effect. Noddings' notion of moral education is a theme that has run throughout this story and was again 123 discussed in this chapter in terms of educating adults towards caring action. Caring's influence on education was a necessary component as the whole purpose of schooling is to educate our children. What we need to become very clear about however, is what it is we are educating our children for. The final issue I presented was one of personal care. I put forth the idea that care for oneself through setting boundaries and reflecting on practice is essential. Children belong in schools. This may appear to be a simple statement that needs no interpretation. I have discovered however, over and over that no statement about children, schools and education is ever simple and is always open to a wide variety of interpretations. Confronting attitudes about childrens' place in school is something that I found extremely difficult to do; yet it has also been very gratifying when I see adults starting to question their own beliefs and assumptions around where children fit in this organization we call school. For far too many educators, children should follow the Victorian model of being seen and not heard. While I may be stating the case a little too strongly it is true that in many schools children are not allowed in the building during particular times during the day and may only enter when formally invited by their teacher. This I find as ludicrous as waiting to be invited into your own home. Children should feel a strong sense of belonging when going to school. This cannot be accomplished when children are banned from the building and educators do not instill in children a sense of ownership. How do I, as an administrator, confront these attitudes that I see as antithetical to what caring and good education should be about? There are a number of things I can do, not the least of which is modeling the type of behaviour towards children that I believe is right. I need to show others that treating children with respect and expecting that in return and by insisting that they be allowed to 124 have a stake in their school and that it will not result in chaos and pandemonium. I must make my own beliefs and values explicit which can only be done satisfactorily by voicing them and explaining my justifications for them. I need to promote dialogue that attempts to unearth what is believed to be the purpose of education and dialogue that works at justifying that belief. Dialogue needs to occur that discusses how we, as educators, meet our obligations to educate aU children. When I first set out to write this story about the impact of Nel Noddings and caring on my practice I hoped to discover a number of things. One of the most important of these was understanding how to create a public space for dialogue. It has become very apparent to me that in order for caring to truly take hold and grow within a school, dialogue must occur regularly. Every barrier to caring I discovered could almost always be addressed by two actions; modeling and dialogue. Modeling can be relatively easy; initiating and sustaining meaningful dialogue will be considerably harder. I looked at competing notions of dialogue in the previous chapter with Noddings going head-to-head with the Habermasian concept of discourse and disputing Carr's notion of the role of means and ends in dialogue. Regardless of which perspective is "right" it is obvious that dialogue of some kind must take place among all players engaged in caring encounters. In schools this means that adults and children must enter into conversation. With children this can be relatively straightforward; it needs to become a pedagogical habit that is valued and given time within and outside the classroom walls. Dialogue between staff members is somewhat more problematic due to egos, confidence issues, and the apparent lack of understanding of the need for dialogue. Nicholas Burbules writes of the difficulty of developing the capacities for dialogue in schools: "Because the development of the communicative virtues is time-consuming, 125 deeply personal, and intertwined with other emotional as well as intellectual factors, formal educational settings are not well equipped to develop them when they are lacking" (1993,p.l52). Creating an environment of trust and a feeling of caring in a school will necessarily be a precursor to initiating purposeful dialogue on caring and education. However, in order for caring to become a way of being that will survive beyond my tenure I will need to make sure that dialogue is sustained and rigorous without being threatening or destructive. I need to create an environment where people feel that their ideas and concerns will be listened to and respected; only then will they begin to attempt the type of dialogue envisioned by Noddings. In my story I have looked at my role as an educational leader and my responsibility for the moral education of children. I have tried to conceptualize caring in a way that makes it accessible to others who may consider that a caring practice makes sense educationally. I have tried to describe my practice as it relates to Noddings' ideas and I have looked at how other ethicists might approach some of the dilemmas I face as an educational administrator. Finally I have attempted to outline some of the issues that I have faced in moving myself and the school I work in towards a more caring way of being in the hopes that it may help others consider the barriers and benefits to caring in schools. M y own conclusion from all of this is that establishing an ethic of care in a school can only serve to enhance the educational possibilities for children. Noddings argues: "We must take public responsibility for raising healthy, competent, and happy children. I wil l argue that the school must play a major role in this task, and I will argue further that the school cannot achieve its academic goals without providing caring and continuity for 126 students" (1992, p. 14). The challenge that Noddings puts forth is a formidable challenge, yet one that full of so much hope for so many children. It is a challenge that I have accepted: the challenge to care. 127 References Arendt, H . (1958). The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Beck, L . (1992). Meeting the challenge of the future: The place of a caring ethic in educational administration. American Journal of Education. 100. (August) 454-496. Beck, L . (1994). Reclaiming educational administration as a caring profession. New York: Teachers College Press. Burbules, N . (1993). Dialogue in teaching: Theory and practice. New York: Teachers College Press. Callahan, R. (1962) Education and the cult of efficiency. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Card, C. (1990). Caring and evil. Hypatia. 5. no.l, (Spring). 101-107. Carr. R. (1991). Educating the virtues. London: Routledge Clinchy, B . M . (1990). [Review of the book Women and evil]. American Journal of Education. 99. (November). 128-131. Coulter, D. (in press). Teaching as communicative action: Habermas and education. The handbook of research on teaching. (4th edition). Courtney, M . andNoblit, G. (1994). The principal as caregiver. In A.R. Prillaman, D.J. Eaker, and D . M . Kendrick, eds., The tapestry of caring: Education as nurturance. New Jersey: Ablex Press. -Cuban, L . (1988). The managerial imperative and the practice of leadership in school. New York: State University of New York Press. Fenstermacher, G. (1990). Some moral consideration of teaching as a profession. In J. Goodlad, ed., The moral dimensions of teaching. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge, M A : Harvard University Press. Greene, M . (1978). Landscapes of learning. New York: Teachers College Press. 128 Habermas, J. (1990). Justice and solidarity: On the discussion concerning stage 6. In T. Wrea, ed., The moral domain: Essays in the ongoing debate between philosophy and the social sciences. Cambridge, M A : The MIT Press. Hoagland, S. (1990). Some concerns about Nel Noddings' Caring. Hypatia. 5. no.l , (Spring). 109-114). Hoagland, S. (1991). Some thoughts about "Caring". In A . M . Jaggar, ed., Feminist ethics: Problems, projects, prospects. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. Houston, B. (1990). Caring and exploitation. Hypatia. 5. no.l, (Spring). 115-119. Kohn, A . (1991). Caring kids: The role of the schools. Phi Delta Kappan. 72. (March). 496-506. Liston, D.P. (1991). Perspectives on women, caring and knowing: Issues for an educational agenda. [Review of the book Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education.] The Review of Education. 13. no.3-4. 209-212. McCadden, B . M . (1996). Can caring survive school restructuring? The Urban Review. 28. no. 4, 337-347. Noddings, N . (1984). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkley, CA. : University of California Press. Noddings, N . (1989). Women and evil. Berkley, C A : University of California Press. Noddings, N . (1990). A response. Hvpatia. 5. no.l, (Spring). 120-126. Noddings, N . (1991). Caring and continuity in education. Scandinavian Journal Of Educational Research. 35. no. 1, 3-12. Noddings, N . (1992). The challenge to care in schools: A n alternative approach to education. New York: Teachers College Press. Noddings, N . (1992a). Shaping an acceptable child, In A. Garrod, ed., Learning for life: Moral education theory and practice. Westport, CT: Prager Publishers. Noddings, N . (1993). The caring professional. Paper prepared for the Seven Oaks Symposium Series, Winnipeg. Noddings, N . (1994). Conversation as moral education. Journal Of Moral Education. 23. no.2, 107-118. 129 Noddings, N . (1995) Teaching themes of care. Phi Delta Kappan. 76. (May). 675-679. Noddings, N . (1996). On community. Educational Theory. 46. no. 3, 245-267. Shogan, D. (1988). Care and moral motivation. Toronto: The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Smith, G. (1994). [Review of the book The challenge to care in schools]. Urban Education. 29. no.l . fApriD. 109-118. Starratt, R.J. (1991). Building an ethical school: A theory for practice in educational leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly. 27. no. 2, 185-202. Tronto, J. (1993a). Beyond gender difference to a theory of care. In M.J . Larrabee, ed., A n ethic of care: Feminist and interdisciplinary perspectives. London: Routledge. Tronto, J. (1993b). Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. London: Routledge. Williams, B . (1985). Ethics and the limits of philosophy. Cambridge, M A : Harvard University Press. Young, R. (1992). Critical theory and classroom talk. Great Britain: Longdunn Press. 130 


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