Universal Care Paradigm

The most common definitions of care (Gaut, 1992; Koloroutis, 2004; Watson, 1989, 2008) suggest a relational or intersubjective concept. This intersubjective concept is a human-to-human relationship in which two or more persons are affected by their meeting and interaction. In the care paradigm used for this text, care encompasses the ability to be fully present, authentic, comforting, empathetic, supportive, and compassionate, and to communicate a desire for well-being. Today's descriptive use of the term caring connotes one who is highly receptive and fully present. It includes a physical, cultural, transcultural presence and an affective and a nonphysical affective dimension. Watson (1989) describes this as a spiritual or metaphysical dimension. An example of such a complex care presence is seen in Vignette 4.1.

Vignette 4.1

I am an educator who is involved in my own spiritual self-awareness, and I see an invisible connection to all the students in my classroom. I like to use a preclass ritual for learner–instructor connection prior to entering the classroom and I typically use a candle or meditative prayer as I center myself. I think about releasing all my negative energy prior to entering the classroom and then I create a centering piece for the class. Today I will be reading a great piece by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Williamson, 1992, pp.190–191)

My goal is to connect beyond the content, and then move into the material for the day using care presence in the classroom that has verbal and nonverbal qualities.

Watson's philosophy and theory of human caring has been progressing for years (Watson, 2008, 1989) as she speaks to one's need to go inward to the self at a spiritual level in order to contribute to healing self, others, and the world. She states:

Inherent to these ideas is the notion of turning inward and regarding oneself and others with reverence and dignity, as spiritual beings, capable of contributing to their own health and healing as well as the spiritual evolution of self and civilization. (Watson, 1989, p. 224)
Teachers, in order to care at this deeper level, must have knowledge and experience regarding several highly enlightened issues, which are described by Watson (1989) and expanded here:

1. Having knowledge of human behavior and the human rational and irrational responses to actual or potential health problems

2. Having knowledge of individual needs and how a particular person might

view the world differently than oneself

3. Having knowledge of one's own limitations and strengths with regard to our ability to care

4. Having knowledge of how to interact at the subjective level, comforting,

being present, open, receptive, showing regard, and realizing the possibilities of the metaphysical realm

When nursing faculty have knowledge and experience in these four areas and bring these constructs into the classroom, they become affectively literate teachers. In the next section, I examine how to bring these four areas of knowledge and experience into the classroom through presence.

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