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In the Heart of Teaching: A Two-Dimensional Conception of Teachers’ Relational Competence

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Research reveals that teachers’ relational competence is crucial for successful education. However, the field is still small and largely unexplored, and arguably needs a better and more precise theoretical starting point. This article seeks to help establish such a starting point, aiming to outline a relational framework based on the philosophies of Nel Noddings and Martin Buber. It proposes a two-dimensional conception defining teachers’ relational competence as: i) an immanent phenomenon, implying that the teacher is directly involved in an interhuman relationship, with an attitude of natural care, and ii) a transcendent phenomenon, meaning that the teacher manages social relationships, with an attitude of ethical care. The article ends by discussing the practical implications of the work.

Keywords: Noddings, Buber; natural care; relational pedagogy; teachers’ relational competence; the interhuman

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2017

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  • Educational Practice and Theory is a bi-annual, independent, refereed journal which, since its launch in 1978, has become an important independent forum for original ideas in education. It publishes innovative and original research in the area. Its focus is both applied and theoretical and it seeks articles from a diverse range of themes and countries.
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