Theses Doctoral

Teachers' Enactment of Complete Care in Times of Difficulty – and Why the Public Should Support Them

Quek, Yibing

My philosophically informed empirical project seeks to shed light on the importance of a teacher’s caring work in schools and the difficulties encountered in performing this work so as to elicit more collective action towards supporting teachers in their role as care workers. Teaching is one profession where doing good work has been made tremendously difficult by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, long before the pandemic, the working conditions for public school teachers have been far from supportive of the good work that they strive to do.

Focusing on U.S. public school teachers and their engagement in complete care for students, my project addresses two central questions: How does completing care in students look like in teaching? and Why should the public support its teachers? “Complete care,” a concept from care ethics that I examine and articulate in my project, seeks to guide care-giver(s) in caring relationships towards successfully meeting the needs of the care recipient, thereby promoting their well-being or flourishing. To show that teachers encounter several constraints in completing care in students, my study draws on a variety of empirical and philosophical sources, including the testimonies of eight public school teachers whom I interviewed in Spring 2021 on their endeavors of meeting the needs of students before and during the pandemic. The experiences of teachers working in a “corporatized” public school environment point to the moral challenges that a teacher could face in fulfilling their caregiving responsibilities to students. In light of the moral precarity that teachers can be exposed to from working in times of difficulty, I argue that the larger social order, where possible, should provide the conditions necessary for teachers to competently complete care for students in schools.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Hansen, David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 13, 2022