A performative and poetical narrative of critical social theory in nursing education: an ending and threshold of social justice
In this article, a poetical and performative narrative is shared to examine how the use of stories to critically self‐reflect on oppression facilitates an understanding of critical social theory in nursing education and impacts social justice. A fusion of prose with a poetical narrative is employed; the latter is reserved to capture the immediacy of personal, emotive, and embodied storied experiences. This deeply intimate and dialogical story begins with a pedagogical experiment created to facilitate nursing students' understanding of critical social theory. Drawing upon Paulo Freire's work, the nursing teacher in a professional development course attempted to deconstruct power relations and cultivate an open and safe learning environment by sharing a poem that depicts her oppression. Students then anonymously wrote a word/statement about their oppression. The teacher created a composite poem from students' words and shared it with the class; it was a powerful moment that highlighted their shared humanity. As a way to further explore stories and consider how to preserve these words, a small group of students and the teacher formed the ‘the oppression group’. Towards the end, we conclude an unfinished story by realizing that the chains of oppression are loosening and humanity is surfacing. There is still a camouflaging of an authentic self. There are still stories to be told. The group is not yet certain if a social representation of an authentic self is possible and if all stories can be told. It has become apparent that the personal can play out in social justice as enacted in the classroom between teacher and students and provides an entry point into the development of the capacity to be social agents in nursing. The group simultaneously concludes the story with both an ending and a threshold of social justice.
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