At the National League for Nursing Convention, held in Seattle in June 1989, there was enthusiasm for what is termed "The Curriculum Revolution" in nursing. What is a curriculum revolution? Why concentrate on curriculum reform? Is it really a "reform" or is it a needed evolutionary phase to attract and prepare the next generation of nurses? A recurrent and expanding theme is that the traditional curriculum models that helped nursing establish itself in academia may no longer be appropriate or adequate. Seeking alternatives that emphasize a more humanistic student-teacher interaction is being promoted.
The discussions sounded familiar to me. I completed my graduate work in education more than 20 years ago. I was influenced positively by the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers. One of his last books, Freedom to Learn, published in 1969, describes his philosophy about teaching and learning. In it he states that teaching is a vastly overrated function.
Shocking? Perhaps. But what does he really mean? He emphasized the role of the teacher as a facilitator of learning and pointed out that teaching as merely the imparting of knowledge makes sense only in an unchanging environment. Nursing, as are other human endeavors, is faced with an entirely new situation in education where our goal, if we are to survive, must be that of facilitating change and learning.
Educated persons are those who have learned how to learn, how to adapt and change, who realize that no knowledge is secure and that only the process of seeking knowledge can give a basis for security. This means a reliance on process rather than static knowledge and requires teachers to be committed to facilitating the processes of learning.
There is little that is new or unknown about the personal qualities attributed to teachers who facilitate learning. These qualities include realness as a person, evidenced by a willingness to enter into a relationship without appearing to present a defensive front. It includes respect, acceptance, and trust of the learner as a person. It includes empathetic understanding of the learner. It includes enthusiasm and celebration of the achievements of learners as incremental steps in their progress. It includes giving praise when earned and making suggestions with sensitivity and compassion. It includes modeling behaviors consistent with nursings values.
"The Curriculum Revolution" in nursing is a major step toward focusing on the processes of learning - how, why, and when our students learn, and how they feel about learning and their professional aspirations. Learning is an intensely personal matter, and as faculty, our role is to facilitate this process in a positive manner.
I hope that you have a successful and enjoyable new academic year, filled with the satisfaction that you have helped your students learn to learn.