The ethics of care as a basis for the coeducational curriculum


Care is an essential right to sustain life. All people need it to have a decent life. In Spain, more than 75% of the people who provide care to dependent people 
are women . In the rest of the world the proportions are similar .

In a social and cultural context based on inequality, care is understood as women’s work. In addition, it is a job that does not have social prestige . A paradigm shift is necessary to recover the value of care as a right for all people.

The best way to achieve this change is through an education based on the ethics of care. For this, care must become a social responsibility and form part of educational practice. This forces us to review and readjust the curricular content and promote knowledge and knowledge that go beyond the merely academic.

Educate in equality

In the current educational system there are attitudes and values ​​traditionally considered to be typical of boys or girls, despite the fact that they are formally considered equal.

For example, regarding the diversification of professional options, young women have opted for studies related to professions considered feminine, in the administrative, health, assistance to dependent persons, tourism, hairdressing, etc. branches; Although currently the presence of women is increasing in engineering and computer science university studies, it is not yet possible to speak of a balanced participation .

A formally egalitarian educational system does not guarantee real equality when the transmission of said values ​​and attitudes persists. Since there is no education devoid of values, it is necessary to make them explicit and recognize them.

In Spain, moreover, the coeducational curriculum is a requirement of the education law.

Care centers

One of the most relevant authors in the ethics of care is Nel Noddings , who highlights the need to implement measures from the ethics of care in the educational field to build an education theory free of gender bias.

Noddings proposes organizing the curriculum around care centers. In them, teachers carry out their function from a dimension that is not only academic: they adopt a role of caretaker, suggesting, inspiring, negotiating and fostering dialogue with students to collaboratively build decisions.

His proposal has four strategic elements:

  1. Modeling: constitutes the core of care pedagogy since learning to care is the response to a care experience. Therefore, it is essential that teachers guide and show the importance of caring for students.
  2. Dialogue: Through dialogue, both parties show themselves capable of a relationship based on care and allows the person who cares to know the needs, expectations and concerns of the person being cared for.
  3. Confirm: Confirmation is an act of affirmation, of positive reinforcement, so that we recognize a better self and stimulate its development. Confirmation by the teaching staff requires that there be a relationship of trust, sensitivity and respect where the reasons and facts are known.
  4. Practice: through practice you learn through the experience of caring. Teachers must act as an experienced caregiver and accompany students in their own learning of care.

Other necessary measures

In addition to day care centers, there are other measures that can be taken to facilitate equal education:

  1. Prepare academic and extra-academic content free of gender bias, to avoid the perpetuation of roles and stereotypes that generate any type of discrimination.
  2. Work on values ​​of peace, equality, respect, tolerance and freedom within the democratic principles of coexistence.
  3. Recognize the contributions promoted by feminist economics and ecofeminism.
  4. Incorporate comprehensive sexual affective education, which must be oriented towards knowledge of sexuality, the development of affective capacities and healthy practices to avoid models of subordination.
  5. The inclusion of the genealogy of women, recognizing their social, scientific, historical and cultural contribution to the development of humanity.
  6. Give value to the reproductive and care sphere, based on a critical vision of reality, through a critical analysis of the reality of care tasks. For example, through the INE Time Use Survey, a table can be prepared with indicators to measure co-responsibility, detect workloads and whether they are fairly and equitably distributed, both based on their specificity and personal possibilities and the labor availability of the people in the family unit. In this way, care work is made visible and care relations can be studied with a gender perspective.
  7. Promote self-esteem and personal autonomy among students.
  8. Acquire skills and abilities to organize society in caring for people and the environment, transversally in all subjects and educational stages, following the provisions of Education for the Sustainable Development Goals: learning objectives .
  9. Generate spaces for boys and girls to acquire knowledge and skills to care for and be cared for.

The ethics of care offers a new collective imagination where women and men face the same rights and responsibilities. In addition, it makes it possible to question and make visible the sexual division of labor and to seek new experiences and calls for the co-responsibility of all people when it comes to assuming care tasks.

Discrimination Free Citizenship

Thanks to this approach, we can recover the transformative value of Human Rights in order to promote a new model of citizenship guaranteed for all people, particularly for women and girls.

Only after an in-depth analysis of the educational objectives and practices will we be able to advance in the integral development of people and in the full satisfaction of their needs. From school we can prevent, and even eliminate discriminatory behaviors, attitudes and actions and violence against women.

It is an educational model that goes beyond the merely academic and promotes a new model of citizenship free of any type of discrimination.

Author Bio: Helena Aparicio Sanmartin is Professor of the subject of Education, gender and equality policies at school, of the MU in Interdisciplinary Intervention in Gender Violence at the International University of Valencia