Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Toward a Field of Caring: An Epilogue

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Toward a Field of Caring: An Epilogue

Article excerpt

Mr. Chaskin and Ms. Rauner point out that, if we are to take the next steps toward making caring a useful concept and a working tool for policy and practice, then there are unresolved issues that must be addressed and specific actions that must be taken.

There are some common assumptions and a common orientation toward change that link the diverse body of research on youth and caring. To revitalize our society, researchers suggest, we must develop effective moral communities, or we will be doomed to increasing social fragmentation. First, we need strong families behind the children and supportive, effective schools. Second, we need leadership and a common commitment to caring in the schools. And third, both schools and families need the support of effective communities.

In addition to these points of agreement, however, unresolved questions remain. Ultimately, their resolution - or at least their further examination - is necessary if we are to take the next steps toward making caring a useful concept and a working tool for policy and practice.

The first questions concern the nature of caring itself. In the research on caring to date, caring has served as means, ends, context, and value. How should caring be considered? What impact can caring have ? How should caring be expressed in different settings? What can be expected of it? What is the relationship of caring to other behaviors and attitudes?

With the support of the Lilly Endowment, researchers have addressed many of these questions in work that seeks to develop measures of adolescent caring and to describe those personal qualities that are related to caring behavior in adolescents. In addition to looking at self-reporting of caring behaviors, this research attempts to explore how young people construct caring behaviors, how they see themselves demonstrating care for others, and how competent they feel in helping others. Moreover, many researchers have examined the extent to which caring competence in young people is associated with a sense of empathetic concern for others, pride and pleasure in helping others, and a strong moral dimension to their view of the world.

Other researchers are asking questions about how being cared for as an infant, a child, or an adolescent predicts one's ability to become a caring adult. …

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