worship pastor at the church we're at now! Portland is the ultimate "small world" city like that.
Arbor School and keep a journal of reflections on it. When I read the book, I had never taught at all. It was the summer after I graduated from college and I was heading off to Portland, Oregon to do this teaching apprenticeship (and not at all sure that I even wanted to be a teacher, but I needed to do something!). Everything Nel Noddings said seemed to run contrary to my own experiences, beliefs, and ideals of education. She seemed to have precious little appreciation for the humanities (particularly Classics and my beloved dead languages) and advocated that students should have a relevant and useful education, and if certain subjects are not going to be relevant and useful to them, then those subjects should not be forced upon them. She was anti-elitist, and I had just spent years living the life of the mind in a rather ivory tower (and ivory skinned) campus and had gone to a wealthy private school before that. I was personally affronted by everything she stood for. And yet, the more I wrestled with the book and wrote page after page sorting out what she thought versus what I thought, the more I realized that I could not just throw her ideas aside as so much constructivist mishmash. For one thing, Nel Noddings apparently had been very influential to Kit Hawkins, the founder and director of Arbor, so if I was going to be there for two years I'd better at least try to see things from Noddings' perspective. When I left high school, I did not have a very broad view of the world. St. John's took a crowbar and pried it open wider, and I had to read things that I did not agree with and discuss them thoughtfully with others (and sometimes change my mind about things). This book was the next step in the same process. While I still strongly disagree with some of Noddings' philosophical underpinnings (she is a "rational non-believer" and believes that caring for others is an evolutionary adaptation), I do agree with her fierce belief in taking each student as the "unit of consideration" and not trying to just teach to the middle and hope the higher and lower students will get something out of it. She is very relational in her approach to teaching, and I admire that and have always sought to emulate it. So, while I do not agree in all particulars (whether educational or philosophical) with Ms. Noddings, I certainly respect her work and appreciate all of the thinking it made me do.
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