heartsandminds

explorations of a wanna-be difference-maker in nursing education and life in general

Wonder-less or wanderlust? Worker or nomad?

On the move by munir, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  munir 

Workers, soldiers and nomads… 3 exemplars proposed as outcomes from our current education system. Which should we value most?

I’d like to suggest that our learning spaces should absolutely encourage nomadism as Dave Cormier describes it, but allow for and encourage those who are, by nature, workers, to metamorphose. There are positive attributes in the worker, as well.

I’m applying Cormier’s ideas to my learning spaces which connect young adults and nursing art and science knowledge, but I think these ideas would apply also to younger learners in the K-12 system. A nursing student must show up on time for skills labs to practice in simulation under expert supervision to responsibly prepare to care for real live people. You as the general public will agree, I’m sure, that you’d rather not you or your family member be “the first time”. She must be able to deal with the structure of a clinical practicum, both in terms of time frame and scope of practice, and she must be willing to accept delegated tasks and complete them. She is only able to work in that setting under the terms of agreement between the facility and the learning institution; and she is able to do so because a licensed professional is taking responsibility. So, I would suggest that some “worker” characteristics are laudable. Indeed, it could be said that we all have to submit to somebody. Is submission is getting a bad rap here? Submission suggests humility, a positive moral attribute, in my books. Students in any program, under transformational leadership, might be willing, even inspired to accept tasks and complete them. This might be even more true if the facilitator makes it clear that foundations are being laid for later exploration and discovery.

If I am understanding Cormier’s proposition, then the nomad nursing student would ask plenty of questions in preparing for her clinical day and while in the setting. She’d likely use a concept map, as opposed to a linear care plan, to make connections between pathophysiology and symptoms and treatments. She’d be observing with a critical lens the power relationships in healthcare and bold enough to ask me, “why do we need to learn this?” or “if it makes more sense to me to do it this way, can I do it this way?”, or “why did that nurse just let that doctor talk to her/that patient like that?” She’d be searching out theoretical frameworks to help her understand lack of compliance with treatment plan. She’d be using social media tools to connect with others to expand connection-making and discuss ideas.

About Cormier’s description of soldier, I perceive this “handle” would apply to nursing educators who cannot let go of content and move toward a learning-centered approach, who are reluctant to use the tech tools and platforms that access the most current state of knowledge. They hold to an outdated view of knowledge that isn’t in touch with 2011 realty, where knowledge is almost constantly changing and rearranging.

As for nomadic learning, my teaching mentor made this a requirement in a prior course, in which 30% of our mark came from co-creating our curriculum on ning.com. This allowed for nomadic wandering after individual interests and passions. There were required readings each week to form a foundation of understanding on the topic, but after that we sought out readings from nursing and non-nursing sources, and media presentations from TED and youtube, and posted them online for discussion and critique. I believe this was a great approach, to introduce students who had been trained, for the most part, in a top-down, “produce a worker” model of education, and who may have faltered initially with no marked path whatsoever. (What I just said seems to suggest that I believe learners can be socialized into an approach to learning!) As I’ve mentioned previously in this blog, the exposure to the experience of connectivism, and community as curriculum, actually birthed in them a “wanderlust”, whether or not they’d articulate it as such. In undergraduate nursing education, I believe there is room to allow for pursuit of knowledge discovery along lines of personal interests and a diversity of choice in evaluative tools, as well. And indeed, we can shift or flip our learning spaces to be about inquiry and discovery as opposed to absorbing supplied knowledge.

The world will be better off with the different-thinkers, the questioners, those who march to the beat of a different drum, but discipline to stay a course and complete a task when the interest wanes is a quality you don’t want to be without either. I say let’s promote the positive aspects of each of these exemplars in learners and ourselves and move toward nomadism. God knows the wicked problems in health care will only be sorted by nomads!

Bamboo by funadium, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  funadium 

Did you know that most varieties of bamboo are rhizomatic!  I didn’t until just now.  Bamboo has many wonderful features.  It is lightweight and flexible,  highly efficient in converting CO2 to O2, and comes in a dazzling array of colors.  It is able to double or triple its mass in a single growing season.  Some varieties are denser than oak.  New shoots are edible in the spring. the pulp is useful for paper production and the culms for timber.  It is considered by some as the most important renewable resource of this century!  

 What do you think?  Does the natural speak of life and learning?  Are there more metaphors to be taken from the life of rhizomes and applied to the rhizomatic model of learning?

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One thought on “Wonder-less or wanderlust? Worker or nomad?

  1. Pingback: On reflection, | E-nurse Shauna

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