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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


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' 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.

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