Feathers of Phenomenological Reflection
This exercise was designed to give visualization to how spoken words can be manipulated. Gossiping is a tactic used by bullies to impose harm on their targets. If we as nurses work to stop gossip in our work environment, we also will lessen the power that nurse bullies have over our work environment and us. By helping nursing students realize gossiping at work fuels a bullying environment, we as educators are taking the first step to help our new generation of nurses eliminate the bullies from our profession.
This exercise was designed to help nursing students understand that gossiping in the workplace is never acceptable. Even when the words spoken are intended to be positive, there is always a risk that someone who is a bully will maliciously reiterate the words out of context. Nurses must be conscientious of their workplace conversation and realize there is other less harmful subject matter than our colleagues that can be discussed at work.
Passive learning is no longer a productive method with modern critical thinking students. However, a mix of the phenomenology philosophy as described by Taylor (1993) with Johns’ (1998) reflective practice model offers today’s generation of learners the interactivity and creativity to keep them engaged in learning.
The goal of this blend of teaching was applied to realizing the potential harmful effect of spoken words. The topic of reflection was how bullies manipulate spoken words into gossip to harm their targets.
An introduction of the topic and key ideas was disseminated. Students then were given a worksheet that contained pictures of individual feathers with words on each. The top half of the paper contained a group of feathers with wording that made a positive statement about coworkers. The bottom half of the paper contained negative words that bullies might add to manipulate the positive statement into a harmful one.
Students were instructed to cut out the feathers and toss them into the air to mimic the words being spoken. After all of the feathers were settled, any feathers that landed upside down were turned over by students. Students then were instructed to look at the conversation the feathers revealed and read it out loud. A reflective journal entry or group discussion are two appropriate ways to evaluate student understanding of this activity related to gossip mongering.
- Johns, C. (1998). Opening the doors of perception. In C. Johns & D. Freshwater (Eds.), Transforming nursing through reflective practice (pp. 1-20). Malden, MA: Blackwell Science.
- Taylor, B. (1993). Phenomenology: One way to understand nursing practice. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 30, 171-179.