Nel Noddings to Win AACTE Book Award for Education and Democracy in the 21st Century

AACTE has chosen Nel Noddings’ book Education and Democracy in the 21st Century to receive the 2015 AACTE Outstanding Book Award. The award will be presented at the 67th AACTE Annual Meeting Welcoming Session, Friday, February 27, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

Published by Teachers College Press, the book thoughtfully brings John Dewey’s work into the current era, exploring the relationship between schooling and civic polity in the age of “disruptions” in education.

Exploring each topic from multiple perspectives and with the kind of critical thinking for which she is famous, Noddings challenges educators to discard the “20th-century thinking” that still dominates education discourse–characterized by a heavy-handed focus on standardization, accountability, and competition–and urges the field to work instead toward larger aims of a cooperative global democracy. She identifies three “great life domains” that 21st-century schooling must address–home and personal, occupational, and civic–and devotes a chapter to “educating for” each of these domains, as well as a closing chapter on “Critical Thinking on 21st-Century Education.”

Margaret Crocco, chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University’s College of Education, nominated Noddings’ book for the award. “As I read the book, I was struck by how very different the shape of teacher education might be were we to take seriously the goals Noddings articulates,” Crocco writes in her nomination letter. “At the present moment, many of us feel that we are ignoring the civic aims of schooling and focusing almost exclusively on its occupational aims.” Of Noddings’ explicit rejection of schools’ predominant emphasis on “intellectual development academically conceived,” Crocco notes, “Many would disagree with this position, and yet thoughtful readers may find her argument compelling.”

AACTE’s Committee on Research and Dissemination, which reviewed the books nominated for the award, agreed. Reviewers were drawn to Noddings’ novel thinking on topics such as “choice” in public education and shared Crocco’s assessment of the author’s “facility with connecting contemporary issues of educator preparation and schooling with fundamental questions about democratic education.” They also agreed that although (or perhaps because) this book is unlikely to resonate with policy makers in today’s competition-driven environment, it ought to be read by every educator.

Crocco offered two related rationales for honoring the book with AACTE’s award: First, it “would signify to those working within and outside of education that we have not lost sight of the importance of both humanistic and democratic values in education.” And second, it could “give courage and direction to so many educators and teacher educators who feel disempowered and disenfranchised by the contemporary educational reform movement.”

Noddings is Lee Jacks Professor of Education Emerita at Stanford University. Author of 19 books and hundreds of articles and chapters on a variety of topics, she is also past president of the National Academy of Education, the Philosophy of Education Society, and the John Dewey Society.

At AACTE’s Annual Meeting, Teachers College Press will be featuring Noddings’ book in the Conference Community Center, in Booth #305.

For information on AACTE’s awards program, including lists of past winners, visit

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