I had heard of existentialism but did not ever really understand it. In reading through Nodding's discussion I found that the description of how we make our own selves to be very interesting. "'Existence' is not mere brute life" (62) really sums it up quite nicely. To exist is more than simply being here and alive but the creation of our human nature and all that it entails. It is not pessimistic but rather contemplative of the realities of existence, "optimistic toughness" as Sartre put it.
I have found often in educational literature that we look at the world with rose coloured glasses and often forget some of the trials and tribulations that are faced by us and our students. There are many times when things simply do not work in particular circumstances. While I am not sure that I would put myself in the existentialist camp I do see how that philosophy is meant to turn the power of ones own sense of being back to the individual. If we want things to be better, we need to work to make them better.