The Caring Social Studies Teacher: Part II

This is the second part of an article about the theme of caring while teaching social studies. The first part can be found at The Caring Social Studies Teacher: Part I

Fourth Theme: Inequality of Opportunity

The fourth theme, the inequality of opportunity, truly shows how diverse the action of caring is. The numbers of inequalities are too numerous to cover in this essay, but there are obvious discriminations that should be examined. First, there are clear inequalities in regard to race. The privilege of Whiteness continues to this day in part to the overwhelming population of White faculty in schools, and segregation of students (HRT, 53). Racial inequality in schools is one with a long historical context, for example, “in 1900 only 52% of Black children ages 10 to 14 living in the South were attending school, compared with 76% of White children” (HRT, 98). Along with clear racial discrimination, there are also issues with access to technology, types of teachers allowed to teach, and tracking students (HRT, 71, 73-79, 101). Not only are there different actions that would fit the definition of caring, there are also different types of caring a teacher much show because of discrimination. A caring teacher may find that their practice challenges specific demographics. For example, low-economic students, and students with challenging home lives, are unable to complete homework. A caring teacher must then find ways to give these students the same tools to complete assignments and master content.

Fifth Theme: Teaching As Adaptive Experience

Similar to theme three, theme five focuses on the relationships between students; furthermore, this theme focuses on how teachers revise their practices to meet their purposes for teaching (HRT, 4). Teachers must continue to develop their expertise because they do not “operate in the domain of things that are eternal, that is, the domain of fixity, necessity, and absence of change, but, rather, in the domain of the variable, the domain of actions and consequences, of change and possibility” (HRT, 34). A caring teacher must focus on the individual goals of the student and how they can best fit into society. For example, in a history course, students should not have to memorize the same exact historical facts. A teacher can revise what each student learns by asking about their interests, which will lead students to learn about different perspectives and histories. In this scenario, a teacher could provide problems for students to solve, and the students, with their collective knowledge of diverse perspectives, would solve problems through an open dialogue.

Sixth Theme: Interactive Nature of Teaching

The sixth and final theme is the interactive nature of teaching. This interaction is made up of the student, the teacher, and what is being taught. All three influence one another and changes to one side can completely alter the entire teacher-student interaction. For example, what if a student told their teacher that they believe Algebra was useless and they did not see a point in learning it. Some teachers may reprimand the student and/or give them a generic retort, but a caring teacher would think about their relationship with the student and think on how they could improve the situation. The student may have enough autonomy to drop the class. If this were the case, the teacher may ask themselves the following questions; “Should we [the student and I] talk further? Are students excused from algebra by negligence rather than informed choice? Does the student really know what he’s doing? Would it hurt if I pushed a bit harder?” (Noddings, 102).

Final Conclusion

Throughout this article, caring was compared to the themes highlighted in the The Handbook of Research and Teaching and shown to be of importance to social studies teachers. There is a lack of research that considers the relationship between teachers and students. Images of teachers and studies of the practice of teaching will be incomplete until they incorporate the reality of the caring relationship between teacher and student (HRT, 49).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *