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Caring for the ethical ideal: Nel Noddings on moral education

by Roger Bergman *
Journal of Moral Education ()

Abstract

Nel Noddings is arguably one of the premier philosophers of moral education in the English-speaking world today. Although she is outside the mainstream theory, research, and practice traditions of cognitive-developmentalism (the Kohlberg legacy) and of character education (which is in public ascendancy), her body of work is unrivalled for originality of insight, comprehensiveness and coherence. Whilst Carol Gilligan's In a different voice (1982) introduced the ethic of caring into academic and public discourse, it is Noddings 'who has done most to outline a specific feminist position on moral education' McClellan, 1999 , p. 104), and whose influence extends to educational practice. This essay explicates Noddings's vision in sufficient depth to make the foregoing claims credible. Thematic focus is given to her attention to the ethical self or ethical ideal. The paper also examines Noddings's perspective on character education and the need to incorporate a morality of evil into any serious educational philosophy or practice. It is less a critical appraisal of that vision and perspective than an invitation to others to more fully engage with Noddings's writings. 1 ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR Copyright of Journal of Moral Education is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts) Nel Noddings is arguably one of the premier philosophers of moral education in the English-speaking world today. Although she is outside the mainstream theory, research, and practice traditions of cognitive-developmentalism (the Kohlberg legacy) and of character education (which is in public ascendancy), her body of work is unrivalled for originality of insight, comprehensiveness and coherence. Whilst Carol Gilligan's In a different voice (1982) introduced the ethic of caring into academic and public discourse, it is Noddings 'who has done most to outline a specific feminist position on moral education' McClellan, 1999 , p. 104), and whose influence extends to educational practice. This essay explicates Noddings's vision in sufficient depth to make the foregoing claims credible. Thematic focus is given to her attention to the ethical self or ethical ideal. The paper also examines Noddings's perspective on character education and the need to incorporate a morality of evil into any serious educational philosophy or practice. It is less a critical appraisal of that vision and perspective than an invitation to others to more fully engage with Noddings's writings. 1 ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR Copyright of Journal of Moral Education is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts)

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