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Exploring transformative learning and the courage to teach a values based curriculum
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Margaret Mcallister
Teaching is a complex art that takes courage to commit to, particularly in the face of stressed students, crowded curricula, tensions in preparation for the graduate role, and ongoing educator shortages. My colleagues and I have been taking on this challenge by imbuing our teaching of nursing with more passion. As Parker Palmer (1998, p. 144), the renowned educationalist once said: “The growth of any craft depends on shared practice and honest dialogue among the people who do it. We grow by trial and error, to be sure – but our willingness to try, and fail, as individuals are severely limited when we are not supported by a community that encourages such risks”. The vision that I have is for nursing educators to come together in communities of practice to talk about the challenging aspects of nursing and ways these challenges can be reframed and reapproached through education. This work is underpinned by the pedagogy of Transformative Learning (TL). At its heart this pedagogy is interested in problematic practices that keep afflicting a discipline such as nursing, and in pondering and revising the educational solutions. In nursing, our biggest problems are where stigma, inequality and inertia persist to make vulnerable communities experience more illness and hardship than others who are more privileged. TL treats students as critical agents - who have the potential to rethink problems and change practices. TL aims to make space within the classroom and online for a dialogue that is affirming so that students believe in their own capacity to make a better world for all people.