During a recent sabbatical (spring 2013), the author investigated perceptions of care in a variety of teacher education programs at Christian colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. My purpose for engaging in this study was to ascertain whether there might be elements of care unique to teacher education programs at Christian institutions that reach beyond prevailing conceptions of care found in the feminist philosophical literature. In this article, I discuss prevalent views of care across sacred and secular lines, detail the research methodology employed in the current study, elaborate upon emergent themes and trends, propose a model of relational care upon which Christian teacher education programs might shape their communities, and identify care-related topics warranting further exploration.

With an ever-increasing sense of urgency, the educational landscape in the West has been dominated by a seemingly insatiable quest to attain academic supremacy on an international scale. While academic excellence is unarguably an exceedingly important goal, the unintended consequence of pursuing intellectual achievement at any cost has been an unbalanced shift in which the curriculum has become the focal point and the needs of the learner have taken a back seat (Freytag, 2008; Kohn, 1999). Framing education as a commodity rather than a process by which human beings can enlarge and expand their knowledge of the world and enrich their responsive interactions with others has significantly dehumanized the teaching and learning relationship (Spears & Loomis, 2009). Success has been reduced to quantifiable results on a handful of high-stakes assessments, and the centrality of caring relationships between and among teachers and learners in both the education of children and the preparation of responsive, effective teachers has gotten lost in the fray (Rabin, 2013). While a few stalwart educational theorists and advocates have been unwavering in their mission to keep care at the center of a responsive, high-quality educational experience for all students (e.g. Anderson, 2012; Goldstein, 1997, 2002; Noddings, 1992, 2005, 2012a, 2012b; Palmer, 1993; 2007; Rosebrough & Leverett, 2011), their voices are often overpowered by those who would elevate success over the development of whole persons through caring, responsive educational relationships. In an era that is necessarily characterized by high standards and accountability, how might teacher educators effectively prepare future instructors to care responsively for both their students and the curriculum?