University of Victoria (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Page: 65 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-49026-4
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2023.0032
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
The 36 nations of the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have identified personalized learning as a highly promising approach to education for creating caring, innovative, resilient, and culturally rich societies and PL is increasingly becoming an aspirational standard in K-12 schooling (Bernacki, Greene & Lobczowski, 2021; Bolstad; OECD, 2009/2018; Sykes, Decker, Verbrugge & Ryan, 2014; Waldrip, Cox, Deed et al., 2014). Yet, a systematic review of the literature outlining the key components/themes of Personalized Learning (PL) appears to be silent on the notion of caring relations (cf., Culatta and Fairchild, 2016; Shemshack, Kinshuk & Spector, 2021; Bernacki, Greene, Lobczowski, 2021). This gap is troubling, as relational caring has been positioned as the foundation for pedagogical activity (Noddings, 2002, 2012, 2015). The purpose of this paper is to argue that although the PL literature does not use the terms “care,” “caring” or the “ethic of care,” these concepts are firmly embedded in its defining components. I do this by illustrating the common threads that tie components of PL to the elements of care as identified by Nel Noddings, an eminent theorist in the ethic of care. Noddings discusses the significance of caring relationships in the classroom and differentiates the quotidian use of the word ‘care’ with teaching students to care for themselves, for each other, about ideas, and about the world; a type of caring which entails engrossing oneself in students’ concerns enough to be motivated to act on their behalf (Noddings, 2002, 2012, 2015; Rabin & Smith, 2013).

PL is premised largely on two key principles, the first of which dates back as far as Dewey (1938), i.e., that unique characteristics of students, formed as a result of their interests and experiences, should be of paramount consideration when designing curriculum and pedagogies. The second principle originates in social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978) emphasizing that individual students need to have significant input into how they access knowledge, construct new knowledge, and express their understanding of what they know, and that such knowledge co-construction occurs within social relations. The teacher’s role in PL is to engage in caring encounters (Noddings, 2002) with students and to initiate student participation within the learners’ zone of proximal development.

Findings of this review of literature revealed that Noddings’ elements of caring relations: listening, dialogue, critical thinking, reflective response and making thoughtful connections, intersected with several of the PL components and pointed to the importance of thoughtful questioning and prompting, encouragement of learners to think about their own thinking, explicit communication of care through demeanour, words and actions and positioning of students as caring agents of their own learning. During the presentation, I will illuminate how researchers and teachers can blend the notions of PL and the ethic of care to fulfill Noddings’ contention that care is the foundation of all pedagogical activity.