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Critical Lessons
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  • Page extent: 328 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.65 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 373.1102
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: BF441 .N63 2006
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Critical thinking--Study and teaching (Secondary)

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521851886 | ISBN-10: 0521851882)

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Critical Lessons

Critical Lessons concentrates on the critical, reflective thinking that should be encouraged in high schools. Taking seriously the Socratic advice “know thyself,” it focuses on topics that will help students to understand the forces – good and bad – that work to socialize them. This book argues that critical thinking is necessary in both schools and society, and that it requires the discussion of controversial issues: how we learn, the psychology of war, what it means to make a home, advertising and propaganda, choosing an occupation, gender, and religion. Learning how to discuss such issues is vital for life in a liberal democracy.

Nel 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 publishing fourteen books – among them are 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 – she is the author of some 200 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, Educating Moral People: A Caring Alternative to Character Education, and Happiness and Education (Cambridge University Press).

   Noddings spent fifteen years as a teacher, administrator, and curriculum developer in public schools. She served as a mathematics department chairperson in New Jersey and as Director of the Laboratory Schools at the University of Chicago. At Stanford, she received the Award for Teaching Excellence three times, most recently in 1997. She also served as Associate Dean and as Acting Dean at Stanford University for four years.


Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
When hot for certainties in this our life!

George Meredith


What Our Schools Should Teach


Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
Information on this title:

© Nel Noddings 2006

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2006

Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Noddings, Nel.
Critical lessons : what our schools should teach / Nel Noddings.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-521-85188-2 (hardback)
1. Critical thinking – Study and teaching (Secondary) I. Title.
BF441.N63    2006
373.1102–dc22    2006004121

ISBN-13 978-0-521-85188-6 hardback
ISBN-10 0-521-85188-2 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for
the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or
third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication
and does not guarantee that any content on such
Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


Acknowledgments page vii
    Introduction 1
1   Learning and Self-Understanding 10
2   The Psychology of War 36
3   House and Home 64
4   Other People 93
5   Parenting 119
6   Animals and Nature 147
7   Advertising and Propaganda 170
8   Making a Living 198
9   Gender 224
10   Religion 250
11   Preparing Our Schools 282
Bibliography 291
Index 307


The writing of this book was aided greatly by ideas and feedback from lecture audiences at Rowan University, Richmond School District (Canada), the University of Rochester, Hobart William Smith College, the Norton Lecture at the University of Delaware, the East-West Philosophy Conference at the University of Hawaii, and Horace Mann School. Thanks, too, to the editors and readers of Phi Delta Kappan for comments on an early version of Chapter 2, “The Psychology of War.”

   For reading and commenting on several chapters or outlines, I thank Liora Bresler, Randall Curren, Harvey Siegel, and Steve Thornton. Conversations with Steve and with Lynda Stone were also helpful.

   I also thank Philip Laughlin, Helen Greenberg, and Helen Wheeler at Cambridge University Press for their continued interest and admirable efficiency.

   As usual – and always – thanks go to my students, children, grandchildren, and husband, from whom I continue to learn about issues on which our best critical thinking is required.

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