(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).
Editor’s note: The following essay is an edited excerpt from an earlier version that was posted on Maha Bali’s blog.
“Committed acts of caring let all students know that the purpose of education is not to dominate, or prepare them to be dominators, but rather to create the conditions for freedom. Caring educators open the mind, allowing students to embrace a world of knowing that is always subject to change and challenge.”
(bell hooks, 2003, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, p. 91)
As someone who writes and speaks a lot about pedagogy of care, I have recently been asked several times, “What about the teachers? Who cares for the teachers?”
My answer is threefold. There are three types of care that teachers need and can get: care from fellow teachers, care from their own students, and equitable caring policies from their institutions. Can you think of others?
Here are some more concrete examples of the first two types of care I mention. I will say more about the third, equitable caring policies at institutions, in the next installment of this two-part essay.
Teachers Care for Teachers
This one is, by far, the one you (if you’re a teacher) can have control and influence to create and nurture. Nel Noddings writes:
“When … the cared-for is unable to respond in a way that completes the relation, the work of the carer becomes more and more difficult. Carers in this position need the support of a caring community to sustain them.”
(Noddings, 2012, p. 54).
In my own institution, the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo, we have a learning community for new faculty members, so that we meet several times during their first year, and we have an email thread going in between. Although we do give workshops in those meetings, the community is centered around the sharing of experiences and concerns, when we were in person and now that we are online.