ERIC Number: ED390860
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985
Reference Count: N/A
Caring Teacher-Pupil Relationship: Feminist or Phenomenological?
Morrison, Harriet B.
Nel Noddings'"Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education" (1984) represents a feminist view of the caring teacher-pupil relationship, focusing on the personal and social setting and speaking directly about the relationship. The works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty contribute a phenomenological perspective which is universal and culturally based and, in describing human relationships, implies a point of view on the teacher-pupil relationship. An exploration of the similarities and differences between these two views yields implications for education, the two parties in the teacher-student relationship, and their shared world. Both points of view relate to the existential interpretation of life and the importance of human relationships. In both, individual choice making constructs the solution to moral dilemmas. Both include concreteness and an emphasis on defining values, forming relationships, and signifying the impact of the individual on an experience. In contrast, while Noddings attends to society, its institutions, and their impact on human relationships, with special emphasis on the educational domain, Merleau-Ponty considers the interaction of culture, universal human tendencies, and the socio-political world. Individuality, the significance of decision making, and freedom appear less clear cut, more complex, and enigmatic than in Noddings' narrative. Noddings' focus is on the teacher-pupil relationship, but with many examples of mother-child rearing. Merleau-Ponty's perspective on intersubjectivity--the connection of all persons historically and culturally--provides a sense of universality to his person-centered philosophy. The Noddings version is directly applicable to American education. Merleau-Ponty's message must be sought, but when discovered, the question of relationships, particularly the teacher-pupil relationship, may best be seen in Merleau-Ponty's vision. However, specific characteristics and outcomes lie with each teacher and student linked in the education event. One seeking to identify the caring teacher-pupil relationship would profit by consulting both models--the personal and particular focus as well as the universal and cultural design. (ND)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Caring; Feminist Pedagogy; Merleau Ponty (Maurice); Noddings (Nel)