During the period 1970 to 1990, extraordinary theories and philosophies by educators and scientists asked the academic world to be more accepting of the power of the subjective. These same educators and scientists also suggested there is a serious risk in ignoring this domain. The most significant risk for those rejecting the subjective is that one's objectivity is really an illusion rather than a closer approximation of reality and truth—it becomes a small adoration on our path to truth.
Any search for new knowledge begins with some form of subjective experience, which consciousness then attempts to describe, catalogue, and comprehend by comparison with other previously catalogued and comprehended descriptions of experience. The metaphoric ladder thus constructed may reach lofty intellectual heights, but its lowest rungs inevitably rest on very subjective, perhaps even archetypal ground. (Jahn & Dunne, 1997, p. 217)
There is hope for educators and researchers who want to expand their knowledge of affective education or other subjective experiences. Valuing the subjective and integrating this with objective information helps us find additional knowledge that supports our understanding of this form of teaching. Quantum mechanics helps us have a healthy respect for an integrative approach that is best termed integrative inquiry, using crystallization as a way to interpret its multifaceted data to create meaning.
This chapter contains information that may shake the reader's sense of stability and his or her previous trust in the objective methods currently in place for guiding nursing practice and education. Go down this rabbit hole only as far as you feel safe. We will return to the ideas and principles that stem from these constructs as we progress in this text. As we move into the intersubjective truths, we will uncover more value and use of the principles stated here. This will give us a place to explore the idea that educators can
partner with students in a way in which they know they are learners and teachers at the same time. Understanding the subjective at this level will offer us a greater chance of using this knowledge for such a purpose—and a sense of love will also be present. This awareness would give teachers a new sense of using care pedagogy and what they might be capable of when presenting affective teaching methods for their students. Vignette 3.2 is an example of bringing quantum mechanics and affective methods to the classroom.
As I get ready to teach my next class, I read these lines to prepare my thinking: “When crossing a river, remove your sandals. When crossing a border, remove your crown” (White Hmong Proverb). As I walk to the classroom, I touch the door jamb, which is an action or ritual I have chosen to remind me that I have crossed the border to sacred ground. This is a place where the students and I will partner in our entanglement of knowing—an intersubjective knowing that will be knowledge building and insightful knowing for all of us.
I step away from the PowerPoint, the podium barrier, and expose my whole body as I speak of the blunt aggressive language a psychotic patient used with me in my past—and I know the aggressive tone was for his sense of safety and had nothing to do with me. As a new nurse, I was not certain it wasn't an attack on me, so I went off to recalibrate my own energy before returning to the unit. I was able to return, and provided an example to the students of how I valued the patient's needs and my own as I gave him space, time, no shame, and no personal projections related to my own vulnerability. I asked him if he could take his medication now, and I would check on him later as I stayed connected to him with a quiet tone, in a pleasant voice, and in a nonthreatening way.
The students are not sure they can do this as they start their mental health clinical rotations next week. I asked them to pair up, to look at each other, but give each other space. One is to talk about something he or she finds exciting and the other is to stay present and connect primarily nonverbally. They can ask a question, but they are not to use the word, “why.” Two minutes is a long time to stay attentive. Now they need to discuss what that felt like for those 2 minutes. Many types of reactions were felt, and I wanted to hear if the one talking felt heard. If not, what caused the distraction? If yes, how did he or she believe the other student's therapeutic-self showed?
I ask the students to own their therapeutic-self, and to get to know it better. I ask them to be honest with any discomfort they may be feeling, and be willing to say what it is. And, I ask them to avoid words that generate a defensive response in others (e.g., the word “why”). They can write down these personal insights in their reflection books and digest what they have learned about themselves. I also jot down some notes about what I am learning just before I prepare for the next topic.
It is time to release fear of the subjective, to embrace it and bring quantum mechanics into the nursing profession with the use of intention and rituals. This will free us to think differently, which would include how to conduct research on teaching in new ways.