Nel Noddings

Nel Noddings is Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita, at Stanford University. She is also a past president of the National Academy of Education, the Philosophy of Education Society, and the John Dewey Society. Having authored seventeen books including: Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education, Women and Evil, The Challenge to Care in Schools, Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief, and Philosophy of Education‚ Dr. Noddings has also written more than 200 articles and book chapters on various topics ranging from the ethics of care to mathematical problem solving. Her latest books are Happiness and Education, Educating Citizens for Global Awareness, Critical Lessons: What Our Schools Should Teach, When School Reform Goes Wrong, and The Maternal Factor: Two Paths to Morality (forthcoming, 2010). Her work thus far has been translated into 12 languages.

To learn more about Nel Noddings from her family and friends, visit her Reflections. To view photographs from Nel Noddings’s personal collection, visit her Photo Gallery.

Curriculum Vitae Suggested readings

Visit the video below to watch a short overview of the interview with Nel Noddings. Otherwise, see all six of the full interviews with Nel Noddings below.

Video Interviews with Nel Noddings:

Dr. Nel Noddings attributes her success as a first generation high school and college graduate to a supportive childhood in north Jersey, and attendance at a decidedly progressive school that emphasized art, music, and drama, and often assigned no homework. Noddings also credits two significant life events as fundamentally shaping her scholarship-the birth or adoption of all ten of her children and her first teaching experience in a 6th grade classroom. Become better acquainted with the Dr. Noddings by watching this clip.

Earning her Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics and physical sciences and her Master’s Degree in mathematics, Dr. Nel Noddings taught elementary and high school mathematics for 17 years before earning her Ph.D. in Education from Stanford. Discovering her interest in philosophy while there, Noddings wrote her dissertation on constructivism as a base for a theory of education. Since, she graciously opened her heart and home to young doctoral candidates in pursuit of their own research interests-a few even referring to themselves as her sons and daughters. In this clip, the now graduated educators remember Dr. Noddings.

Dr. Nel Noddings, earning numerous awards including three Awards for Teaching Excellence from Stanford, a Medal for Distinguished Service from Teachers College, Columbia University, and the American Educational Research Association Lifetime Achievement Award, has recently published her 17thbook in addition to over 200 articles on topics ranging from mathematical problem solving to the ethics of care. View this clip to hear Dr. Noddings’s reflections on other topics including critical intelligence, school choice, national standards, and the philosophical question of war.

Influenced by her elementary, high school, and post-secondary teachers-many of whom she can still remember by name, Dr. Nel Noddings has also been personally and professionally inspired by the work of Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, educational reformer John Dewey, and others. Learn more about Dr. Noddings’s suggestions for addressing community issues in this clip.

Sharing her words of wisdom, Dr. Nel Noddings reminds graduate students that the task of writing the dissertation is an academic exercise rather than a life’s work-students should produce an accurate, quality product, and then move on! Noddings also highlights the benefits of continuous reading and contact with university colleagues from other disciplines-and gaining new material and maintaining a healthy sense of humility and appreciation through lifelong learning. Find out more about being both an effective researcher and educator from Dr. Noddings in this clip.

In this clip, Dr. Nel Noddings responds to audience questions regarding parental involvement in curriculum, aspects of public education that are “going right,” student grading procedures, and advice for first-year teachers. While Dr. Noddings hesitates to define what makes a person “educated,” she cites the spirit of the 1918 Cardinal Principals of Secondary Education as a guide for modern educational priorities. View this clip to learn more about the values Dr. Noddings believes are timeless.

Amrein-Beardsley, A. (2010, May 4). Inside the Academy video interviews with Dr. Nel Noddings [Video files]. Retrieved from /inside-the-academy/nel-noddings

Dr. Michael S. Katz

Dr. Michael S. Katz and Dr. Nel Noddings became friends and colleagues as graduate students at Stanford University in the 1970s. A gardener whose greenhouse often contains exotic plants, Nel enjoys reading mystery novels, loves animals, and would rather spend time at her home in New Jersey than travel. Praised by Michael as “one of the most efficient people” he knows, Nel gives new meaning to the “do it now” philosophy. Describing her as a “consummate teacher-scholar,” Michael insists that Nel “never lets her status as a famous scholar and lecturer and author interfere with treating everyone with the same kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration that she would expect people to show her, regardless of her status or position.” Encouraging his own students to write to Nel “for suggestions or advice or even a critical reading of a paper,” Michael knows she will “always find time to respond…[n]o many how busy, people always come first for her.”

Vicky Noddings

Vicki Noddings proudly characterizes Dr. Nel Noddings as her official graduate advisor, mentor for all things mathematical and academic, garden boss, and mother extraordinaire! Recalling her mother’s display of humor on an airplane flight, a teenaged Vicky watched with embarrassment as her mother danced to imaginary music. Vicky smiles now at her mother’s willingness to break the rules when she ushered all ten of her children into a sold-out Star Wars film after buying tickets to an entirely different movie. Although Vicky is proud of her mother’s recognition with multiple teaching awards at Stanford University and had even compared Nel to one of Virginia Wolff’s super women in a college writing assignment, she is convinced that her mother’s greatest personal accomplishment is giving birth to her after a 10-month pregnancy. Vicky describes her mother as “ALWAYS there for anyone who needs her: for her husband, children, grandchildren, spare relatives, colleagues, pets, [and] plants….”

Dr. Lynda Stone

As her teacher and major professor in the School of Education at Stanford University, Dr. Nel Noddings continues to be a mentor and friend to Dr. Lynda Stone, Professor (Philosophy of Education) and Chair of Culture, Curriculum, and Change at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Now considered part of the Noddings family, Lynda is known as “Little Sister” or “one of the fourteen of ten-the oldest.” Both Lynda and her husband, James Marshall, enjoy spending time with Nel and members of her family. Lynda admits she would love “to talk with her each and every day-about gardening, about food, about books, about pets, about life.” Particularly fond of Nel’s cooking, Lynda enjoys her broccoli soup from the garden and the opportunity to discuss Nel’s latest projects and speaking schedule. Lynda strongly believes that Nel’s work on caring is “an alternative to Kant’s ethic” that “should be widely recognized within education-and of course in philosophy itself.” Furthermore, Nel’s “exceptional ability to write about very complex ideas in very understandable ways” makes her work “widely accessible, to multiple audiences.” Her “quiet, thoughtful composure” allows her to pose radical reform and get away with it! Lynda reflects on her own relationship with Nel, writing: “My own life has been forever altered by knowing her.”

Dr. Stephen Thornton

Having known Dr. Nel Noddings for more than 30 years, Dr. Stephen Thornton was once her graduate student at Stanford University who also considers himself a member of the Noddings family. Now Professor and Chair of the Department of Secondary Education at the University of South Florida, Stephen is mutually regarded as a “son” to Nel and her husband, Jim. Having spent considerable time with the entire Noddings family, Stephen can still recall the antics of the Noddings’s mischievous little dog, Fanny. Appreciative of Nel’s dry humor and “invariably considerate behavior,” Steve praises her for living “the continuity of caring which she writes about….”