Journal of Educational Controversy


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

IN MEMORIAM: Nel Noddings

We at the Journal of Educational Controversy are saddened to announce the passing of philosopher, Nel Noddings.  The announcement below from the Philosophy of Education Society reflects on her legacy.  

   PES Honors Nel Noddings’ Legacy 

Teacher. Philosopher. Public Intellectual. Mentor. Friend.

When Professor Nel Noddings died on August 25, 2022, the Philosophy of Education Society (PES) not only lost a luminary in our field, but also a dear and cherished colleague, friend, and mentor. A first generation college student, Professor Noddings was a champion for students who may not always feel that education systems were structured for them. Her philosophy of education colleagues will miss her presence, her friendship, her wit, her brilliance, and her leadership.

Nel Noddings was the Emerita Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University. Her scholarship conceptualizing and applying an ethic of care stands as a landmark contribution to the field, shaping conversations in philosophy of education, ethics, moral philosophy and feminist theory. Her work also shaped conversations and practices in schools, lifting up the moral and ethical dimensions of teachers’ work. Nel’s work was expansive; her books included Caring: A Feminist Approach to Ethics and Moral Education (1984), The Challenge to Care in Schools (1992) and Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy (2002), among many others.

Nel’s leadership was felt not only at Stanford, where she served as an Associate Dean and Acting Dean of the School of Education, but also more broadly in the American Association for Educational Research, where she spearheaded writing ethical guidelines for the field of educational research as a whole, as President of the National Academy of Education and the John Dewey Society, and in PES, where she served as president in 1991-1992. Nel was a thoughtful and prolific scholar who valued action. As one of her daughters wrote: “Her family welcomes you to honor her legacy with action. Don’t send flowers; read her work and talk with the people you care about.” Indeed. Read her amazing boundary-crossing work. Make sure your students read it too; this would honor Nel’s memory, as she was a skilled teacher and mentor. 

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