Sunday, May 07, 2006

Winding Up, Winding Down

The weekend winds down, and I begin to wind myself up for the week ahead. I accomplished a great deal this weekend, including having a nice nap each day in the hammock. Time well spent.

This week marks the end of my current teaching career. I must say, no matter how much I love my students---and I do---it will be a sweet relief to no longer have exams, lectures, overheads, power-points, and other detritus to deal with all year. I truly love the act of teaching---the moments of laughter, of watching a student "get" something crucial, the crystallizing ideas coalescing in understanding and synthesis---it is very gratifying. But on top of a full-time job that demands such energy and commitment, teaching has been a psychic burden which I am ready to shed.

Beyond the mechanics of teaching, and the preparation and responsibility involved, I have always found nursing school to be somewhat deadening. The rote memorization, the need to teach towards the licensing exam---it all makes the process less alive for me. Grading students on their performance on multiple-choice tests is a frustrating but necessary evil which sometimes precludes the desire to spend time delving deeper into issues which cannot be addressed on such standardized exams.

In my teaching, I try to impart my excitement, my fascination, my sense of justice and socioeconomic equality, my commitment. I try to use stories, scenarios, and anecdotes to illustrate the reality of patient-provider interactions and the mystery and subtlety of such relationships. Sadly, the reams of information needing to be reviewed and lectured upon often precludes such non-linear teaching, keeping us information-oriented, away from the realm of feelings and relationships. This is a hole in nursing education, and area which I think is often overlooked in the interest of the "harder" scientific aspects of nursing.

I will honestly miss teaching, but I'll be sure to find opportunities for teaching which do not necessitate my standing in a classroom and talking until my throat is hoarse. In my mind, there are many changes needed in nursing education which I will not address in this forum, but I recognize that there are areas sorely lacking and in need of attention, especially on the comunity college level. Some day, perhaps, as a retired nurse, I'll return to academia and give it my all, acting as a change agent to reinvigorate the education of nurses. For now, I will gracefully bow out of that world, and leave the teaching to others more comfortable with the process than me.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more about nursing school. I'm in my last year in a BSN program and cannot wait for it to end so I can learn how to become a nurse! Too bad for those students who will no longer have an opportunity to learn from you, based on your blogs and Sparkey's you appear to be a very kind and compassionate indivudual. Alas, teaching I'm sure can be a drain and thankless at times. Here's to enjoying some time for you and yours, pats and scratches to the pooches.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sallie.

Anonymous said...

A clearer understanding between reality & humanity was gifted to your students in small snapshots of your being. A perfect balance of compassion & knowledge was achieved. To share 'the wisdom of the body', not because it was required, but because of who you are - will not soon be forgotten. Long live the daily milkshake & the sabre tooth chicken