In honor of our late mother, Nel, we remember how both she and our late father, Jim, were strong believers in the power of higher education.
Nel Noddings, a renowned educational philosopher, recalls seeing the dome at MSU from her elementary school classroom and knew at a young age that she wanted to attend MSU and become a teacher. She and her late husband Jim established the Nel and James Noddings scholarship, thinking of the many Montclair State students today who—like Nel—are the first in the family to go to school of modest means, in need of a scholarship. The scholarship is for individuals in their student teaching semester who are preparing to be math teachers.
In additional to being remembered as a philosopher, Nel was a feminist, a matriarch, and an engaged citizen of the world. Nel was a prodigious writer with more than twenty books and monographs in print that have been translated into fourteen languages including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish. She is best known for her ethic of care described in her first book Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics & Moral Education published by the University of California Press in 1984. In 2013 she changed the title replacing the word feminine with feminist. Her four decades of published work demonstrate the breadth of her intellect and interests as the following titles illustrate: Women and Evil; Constructivist Views on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics; Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief; Philosophy of Education (now in its fourth edition this textbook has been translated into 8 languages); Happiness and Education; When School Reform Goes Wrong; A Richer, Brighter Vision for American High Schools; and Teaching Controversial Issues: The Case for Critical Thinking and Moral Commitment in the Classroom.
Nel received her Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Physical Science from Montclair State College in New Jersey in 1949, a Masters in Mathematics from Rutgers University, New Jersey in 1964 and her PhD in Educational Philosophy and Theory from Stanford University in California in 1973. After more than twenty years at Stanford University, Nel retired as the Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Emerita and then taught at both Colgate University and Teachers College Columbia both in New York. Nel and her husband Jim had five children of their own and had served as foster parents several times before they began adopting and taking in friends and relatives. At the time of their sixtieth wedding anniversary in 2009, there were fourteen people present at the event who had at some point in their lives called Nel “Mom.” Nel’s husband Jim of more than sixty years died in 2012 at their last family home together at the beach in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Nel moved to Key Largo, Florida in October of 2021.
Nel and Jim converted their aspirations into action by providing much needed financial support through the scholarship they endowed in their names. We hope that you will join us in honoring their memory by making a generous gift to the Nel and James Nodding Scholarship.
Nel leaves a long legacy of supporting students and future educators at Montclair State University College of Education and Human Services. As an alumna and honorary advisory board member, she was incredibly influential to many at the College of Education and Human Services. The impact of her work will certainly continue, and, her voice will be important to shape the work of educators and scholars for many many years to come. Read more about Dr. Nel Noddings here:
Donor Impact Story: Dr. Nel Noddings ‘49
CEHS Announces New Leadership, Welcomes Dr. Nel Noddings as Honorary Board Member
Dr. Noddings as Keynote Speaker on Happiness and Education
The Noddings Family