Friday, September 19, 2008

CCK08 Theory & Professional Agenda

My knowledge of educational theories is purely at the textbook level. The theories that I've actually lived are in the nursing field. I suspect that Connectivism will only be accepted as an educational theory if it is in alignment with the direction the educators have decided is best for the profession. For what it's worth, here's a short history of nursing in Ontario since 1970.

When the training was hospital-based and the hospital staff and patients set the curriculum, it was built around Virginia Henderson's 14 functions of basic nursing care. Nursing was low-paid, labour-intensive and considered similar to a religious calling. Students were paid a small stipend for their labour and had no tuition fees. They lived for free in nurses residence and ate for free in the hospital cafeteria. It was a popular choice for ambitious girls and often the only way girls from large families could get an education.

Nurses looked around and saw what tradesmen and policemen earned and decided the path to better working conditions was to transfer education from the hospital to the Community Colleges. In order to show that nursing was a real college program, Virginia Henderson was tossed out the window and the new curriculum was built around Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It took a lot of effort to get student nurses to recognize their hierarchy of needs would be better met if they studied professional development which was basically about nursing unions, professional associations, the best method of charting to protect themselves in a malpractice suite, etc. Students paid for their own books and tuitions and accommodation but with a combination of grants and loans anyone could afford to become a nurse and graduate with very little or no debt.

Now all graduating nurses are required to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the current theorist providing the curricular framework is Bevis. The 5 tools of Nursing Practice are Problem-Solving/Decision Making, Communication, Teaching/Learning, Caring, and Management/Planned Change. Nursing is a separate but equivalent body of knowledge in the health sciences with encouragement being given to pursue a Masters and a Doctorate in Nursing with the resulting increase in pay, status and power for the profession. Canada has gone from producing a surplus of nurses to depending on immigration to fill its positions and control wages.

I suspect education is the same as nursing. Either connectivism can be used to enhance the respect and compensation levels of teachers or it just won't fly regardless of its merits or lack thereof.

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