When parents are asked what they want for their children, they usually answer that they want their children to be happy. Why, then, is happiness rarely mentioned as a goal of education? This book explores what we might teach if we were to take happiness seriously as a goal of education. It asks, first, what it means to be happy and, second, how we can help children to understand it. It notes that we have to develop a capacity for unhappiness and a willingness to alleviate the suffering of others to be truly happy. Criticizing our current almost exclusive emphasis on economic well-being and pleasure, Nel Noddings discusses the contributions of making a home, parenting, cherishing a place, the development of character, interpersonal growth, finding work that one loves, and participating in a democratic way of life. Finally, she explores ways in which to make schools and classrooms cheerful places. Nell Noddings is Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita, at Stanford University. She is past president of the Philosophy of Education Society and of the John Dewey Society. In addition to twelve books, she is the author of more than 170 articles and chapters on various topics ranging from the ethics of care to mathematical problem solving. Her latest books are Starting at Home: Caring and Social Policy (University of California Press) and Educating Moral People: A Caring Alternative to Character Education (Teachers College Press), both published in 2002.
Part I. Happiness as an Aim of Life and Education: 1. Happiness; 2. Suffering and unhappiness; 3. Needs and wants; 4. The aims of education; Part II. Educating for Personal Life: 5. Making a home; 6. Places and nature; 7. Parenting; 8. Character and spirituality; 9. Interpersonal growth; Part III. Educating for Public Life: 10. Preparing for work; 11. Community, democracy, and service; 12. Happiness in schools and classrooms; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
"Happiness and Education is especially commended to the attention of public and private school teachers, and administrative policy makers as informed, thoughtful, and thought-provoking reading."
--Library Bookwatch, The Midwest Book Review
"Happiness and Education is ultimately a critique of American culture, not just its educational system. But Noddings shows how the narrow curriculum found in most classrooms helps shape a culture with misguided priorities. Perhaps today's educational leaders would benefit from reading her book and exercising some critical thinking of their own."
"With her special combination of tenderness and sharpness of vision, Noddings makes us look squarely at some not so obvious truths. Happiness as a goal is much derided, except when it comes to our own lives and our own children. The painful contradictions that we force on our children and their families in order to avoid asking what truly matters are obvious as we confront children in their daily eagerness to find both happiness and meaning--in schools carefully designed not to answer either. Growing up and being educated today takes a very different look when seen through Noddings's careful perspective. Those of us trying to create schools that respond to her questions will read this book carefully many times."
--Deborah Meier, Principal, Mission Hill School, Boston
"Nel Noddings's beautiful book Happiness in Education is an incandescent joy to read. The educational landscape of the past ten years would be a very different one if voices as humane and wise as hers had been more widely heard. I have been hungering for a book like this and am grateful to Nel Noddings for providing it."
--Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities and Ordinary Resurrections
"The most important and influential philosopher on the concept of caring in education, Noddings beautifully synthesizes her admirable corpus in this new book.... In sum, reading Noddings is akin to earning a condensed, invigorating form of liberal education in philosophy, psychology, literature, and theology. Highly recommended."
"Noddings' thesis and argument that happiness and education not only can but should coexist must be taken seriously by everyone concerned about preparing children and young adults for a truly satisfying life in our democratic society."
--Catholic Library World