The impact of the ethic of care on the teaching and learning of science by middle school science teachers and EL students
Rackley, Rhonda Kay
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Among the challenges of immigration is the need to educate students who are learning English and other content simultaneously. Immigrant students face difficulties regarding culture shock and depending on the reason for their immigration they may have suffered from religious or political intolerance. When these students enter classrooms in the United States, how should teachers best instruct them? There will be difficulties across the curriculum, but often science presents a special difficulty depending on a students’ background. Teachers are not always aware of how to help these students. In this case study two middle school science teachers, Iris and Calla, were interviewed and observed to determine what impact the ethic of care had on their teaching of science and the learning of science by their English Learner (EL) students. Both teachers were considered to be caring teachers by their colleagues, immediate administrators or ESOL program officials. Through interviews of the teachers, classroom observations, interviews of some of their EL students and a student questionnaire it was determined that Iris did act from an ethic of care but Calla, a very loving person, acted out of a virtue of care or a relational ethic. The implications for future research are that by acting from an ethic of caring, students benefit by mastering content and skills and teachers are provided a powerful pedagogical tool.