The Legacy of Paulo Freire


For those who have followed this project for a while, you already are aware of the influence of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, whose book “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” has influenced not only this project, but the work of many of us involved with this project.  Recently I became aware of a number of YouTube videos about Freire and his work, some Freirein Portuguese, but many in English! Viewing them reminded me of the importance of returning again and again for inspiration that arises from these ideas — inspiration that keeps our gaze on what is possible and that overcomes the distress that comes from some of the discouraging events that surround us every day!  I will post one of the short videos below, but also want to be sure that everyone knows about the online “Paulo Freire Formation” course offered by the Freire Institute.  Here is a brief description of what this course is all about:

This is an in-depth online programme for activists, organizers and volunteers committed to social transformation. It provides training for those wanting to become more effective change agents. The six courses are taken online but with live input; those progressing to the next part of the programme will have the option to attend a 5-day ‘Intercultural Formation Meeting’. Courses can be taken flexibly according to your needs.

Freire wrote his “Pedagogy” book in the late ’60s, and it was published in English in 1971.  The importance of his ideas has only increased over time, and many important scholars and activists have continued to build on his work, including a number of feminist scholars including bell hooks.  Her book “Teaching to Transgress” contains a full chapter in which she examines Freire’s work and its lasting and significant contribution to feminist thought.

For me, Freire’s ideas have a close connection and deep meaning in terms of our ongoing exploration of what it means to care and to be cared for.  Freire, in his later years, talked more and more about the concept of love – particularly what he called “radical love” – which is quite similar to Margaret Newman’s ideas of love as the highest form of expanded consciousness.  Freire never wavered in his belief that real social change could become a reality, with the essential element of radical love – the coming together of all forms of love – as the underpinning for social change.

So watch this brief video to become more familiar with these ideas, and if you want more, just search for Paulo Freire on YouTube and/or Google, for more than a bit of inspiration!

Historic Wilma Scott Heide eBooks now available!


Wilma Scott Heide

Wilma Scott Heide

Two books of major significance to the modern women’s movement are now available as eBooks – “Feminism for the Health of It” by Wilma Scott Heide, and “A Feminist Legacy: The Ethics of Willma Scott Heide and Company” by Eleanor Humes Haney.

Wilma Scott Heide was bom on February 26, 1921 and died on May 8, 1985 of a heart attack. One of the most respected of feminist/human rights scholars/activists in the world, Dr. Heide was a nurse, sociologist, writer, activist and lecturer. During her lifetime she actively demonstrated intellectual force, caring and commitment in articulating the women’s movement imperatives for society. She served as visiting professor and scholar at several universities, consultant to various state education associations and innumerable colleges, churches and many branches of the government, education and social organizations. In 1984 Wilma described herself as: Behavioral Scientist at American Institutes for Research; Human Relations Commissioner in Pennsylvania; Chairone of Board and President of NOW (1970-1974); Professor of Women’s studies and Public Affairs at Sangamon State (would-be) University in Illinois; Feminist and Humorist-at-Large

These two books were originally published in 1985 by MargaretDaughters, a small independent feminist publishing company founded by Charlene Eldridge Wheeler and Peggy Chinn.  They named their company after their mothers, both of whom were “Margaret.”  They met Wilma on the occasion of an International Women’s Day celebration Heide-Coverin Buffalo, New York where Wilma was featured as a guest speaker.  Her dissertation, titled “Feminism for the Health of It” had never been published in book format, and the eager Margaretdaughters publishers were thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this important work into book form.  Shortly after, they connected with Ellie Haney, who had been planning a biography of Wilma’s life that highlighted the amazing and inspiring feminist philosophy that grounded Wilma’s work.

Wilma challenged the patriarchal status quo with an inimitable humor, keen intellect, and a steadfast feminist commitment.  She was the third President of NOW, during which she actively led the organization to turn away from the homophobic “lavender menace” Legacy-Cover2messages of the earliest years of the organization.  She led a number of actions of civil disobedience, several of which contributed significantly to moving the Equal Rights Amendment out of committee and into the nation-wide U.S. constitutional review process.  She insisted that newspapers cease segregating the “help wanted’ columns by “male” and “female” – a change that is possibly one of the most influential in expanding economic opportunity for women.

Even though she did not practice nursing for most of her career, she never waivered in her identity as a nurse and her commitment to the deepest values of nursing that are today reflected in the Nursing Manifesto – caring, the right of all people to a high level of health and wellness, the essential element of peace in realizing health for all, and the imperatives of consciousness and action to bring about real change.

There are elements in both books that may seem limited or inadequate given the perspectives we have today, but both remain significant and current not only for their historic value, but for the light they shed on today’s persistent political and social challenges for women, for nursing, and for health care.  I am thrilled to have brought these works forward into the present in accessible, affordable formats!  I hope you will visit your preferred eBook provider now and consider making them part of your library!

New! Emancipatory Nursing text just published!


Indeed, for the first time ever, we have a text that is devoted to what we have named “emancipatory nursing!”  The “we” I refer to are the 3 editors of this text – Paula Kagan, Marlaine Smith, and me (Peggy Chinn). The text is titled “Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis.” The text is published by Routledge in their series Emancipatory text“Routledge Studies in Health and Social Welfare” and is available from the publisher, as well as on Amazon (both hard cover and Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (both hard cover and Nook).  The price is a bit daunting, but the publisher is offering a 20% discount code with the attached flyer!  If you are associated with a library, let your librarian know about this book so they can add it to their collection!

The contributors to this text are among the most prolific and renowned critical scholars in nursing, and the chapters that they wrote for this book are original works that have not appeared anywhere else in the literature.  For some, they have created entirely new perspectives and ideas that reflect current insights and accomplishments.  Others build on their previous work, but extend their thinking into new territory. The book begins with a forward by Joan Anderson and an Introduction by Paula, Marlaine and me in which we define the fundamental concepts of emancipatory nursing that emerged from our own work as well as the insights of the book’s contributors.  The first Section focuses on philosophy and theory underlying emancipatory nursing, followed by Sections on research, teaching and practice.

As one the book’s editors and a huge fan of the writings that appear here, I am not in a position to provide a qualitative review of the book that might be considered “objective.”  But I can offer my own “subjective” related to this book! The experience of reading each and every chapter, from the first drafts through the final revisions based on editorial reviews, was one of the most challenging and inspiring experiences of my career.  Throughout the process I kept wishing that what I was reading was already published and available!  Now that these works are in fact in print and available, I hope you will have the opportunity to share this experience!  When you do, please return here and offer your comments and responses!  We will make sure that any author you wish to respond to sees your comments and has a chance to respond!

The nursing revolution will not be televised: Part III, the work of consciousness evolution


If you are following these postings, you may have begun to wonder, ” well how can I, an everyday nurse, take on the enormity of changing myself; I have always been this way, these are engrained patterns, and I don’t know how to change”. I have outlined a few steps here, though the reader is encouraged to also discover their own healing path.

I. Start looking at the basics of your human needs.

Most nurses have some exposure to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and the more we learn about psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), the more we know the importance of  laying the foundation of good health behaviors in order to achieve “self-actualization” or consciousness evolution; we can also use this model to begin to visualize that as we move toward your own growth, healing, and self-actualization experiences, we can then prepare to support others (ie our patients and our colleagues) to do the same. From a PNI perspective, if the base of the hierarchy is not addressed, we will be in a physiological chronically stressed state, leading to not only feeling bad and functioning poorly, but also toward an inflammation state and a genetic-chromosomal expression that leads to illness and disease.

Many nurses need to start with attending to the basic physiological needs. As research has shown that most nurses get an average of only 6 hours of sleep before any given shift, for many nurses, this will be the way to begin: first, learn to honor your sleep in order to best care for your own PNI and set the stage for consciousness evolution. Additionally, with erratic schedules and nurses’ long 12 hour shifts, diet and exercise habits that are proven to support a strong PNI, personal stress resilience, and consciousness evolution, may be missing and this useful information is never readily available for the people in need.

As one begins to build a strong physiological basis for themselves, they are better prepared to address the safety needs stage of Maslow’s hierarchy: I believe this is of great importance to nurses, because on a daily basis, our safety issues and boundaries are pushed by our patients, patients’ family members, colleagues, and administrators alike. However, if we don not have our own basic physiological needs met, we may not progress toward addressing our safety needs and moving into a space where work group relations can be addressed and managed.

Nurses may choose to work with a wellness counselor, support group, or health-nurse coach to begin to manage and create a healthy lifestyle. We need to recognize that these habits are hard to create, but with continued support, we can create lasting healthy lifestyle behaviors.

II. Look to the Literature: Self-help and self-care tools abound

In the curriculum I have enacted in the RN- BSN program I have developed, it has become clear that nurses need specific tools to undertake the self-care and healing journey. Luckily, one does not have to look far to find these tools. Some recommendations I feel comfortable making to nurses, educators, student nurses , and whole groups of nurses looking to share this work together include:

Cheryl Richardson’s (2012) The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time. In this book, individuals and/ or groups can work together to reflect and create real change in their lives. This particular book walks the reader through affirmations, to creating healing space, and learning to set limits with the “absolute no” process.

Another great work to support nurse’s on their healing journey and consciousness evolution process is Joan Borysenko’s (2012) Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. In this book, Dr. Borysenko, a pioneer in the research that emerged from Harvard’s Mind Body Institute, shares her own burn out scenarios and a step-by-step reflective process to help readers revive by examining their childhood roots of burnout, personality traits that may predispose us to burnout, and the revival process needed to move beyond burnout.

Creating work groups or informal groups that can share this healing process may be helpful, though certainly one can also work through this process on their own.

For those looking for what I might call a deeper journey toward the state of evolutionary consciousness a text entitled Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening (2008, Ken Wilber et al) may prove to be a challenging and useful endeavor. This book walks one through the lived process of addressing psychological shadow issues, while also focusing on the mind-body-spirit processes needed to support evolutionary consciousness growth.

III. Seek out counseling

As most nurses know, we want to support the healing of others through caring, which is the heart of nursing practice. But if this task becomes one of control and co-dependence, our workplaces may even morph into lateral violence as we reenact the patterns of our dysfunctional family’s and painful childhood experiences. Through work with the right counselor, we may find that we are able to identify these patterns, observe them, heal them, accept them, and detach from them as we create new ways of being. At this juncture, we then create new patterns for coping. Additionally, tools such as EMDR can help one to create new neural pathways of peace and well-being to attend to when life is stressful, rather than continuing to enter into old habits of fight or flight ad the ensuing dysfunctional behaviors that tend to dictate our reactions in unhealthy manners.

IV. Evolve your consciousness: The ancient tools

For many centuries, people have searched for ways to relief their suffering and find ways to grow spiritually and evolve their consciousness. We are only now coming to the point where we can link these endeavors to the PNI response; organizations such as the Harvard’s Benson- Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and the Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and The Institute of Noetic Sciences have taken the lead in this area.
Working toward mindfulness, using tools such as meditation and yoga help us to evolve our consciousness toward higher states and recognize our unity with others and the universe at large. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on  purpose, in a present way, while remaining non-judgmental and non-evaluative toward both the inner and outer environments. The video below from UCSF’s Osher Center provides a clear background on this process which directly relates to managing stress and evolving.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences around this process of personal consciousness evolution and the power it may have to transform our lives and realize our healing-caring nursing practices.

To Challenge and to Cooperate


Most readers of this blog are already aware of the IOM/Robert Wood Johnson report on the Future of Nursing that was issued in October of 2010.  You may recall my post about the report last June – in fact, there were 16 replies to that post – a record for this fledgling blog!  The replies were thoughtful and brought to the fore exactly what is most badly   needed in nursing – challenges about not only the report, but the assumptions underlying it.  So I would like for us to focus once again on this initiative, not simply because of the terrific discussion it raised on this blog, but because it is generating a substantial degree of action.  Part of the action component is built into the funding plan that accompanied the original report, which actually strengthen the possibility that something will come of it!  But of course the action components need to be watched closely.  The challenge for me, and I suspect for many others who entered the discussion in June, has to do with a fundamental question: “Who benefits?”

During the August conference of INANE (International Academy of Nursing Journal Editors) in San Francisco, the 130+ nursing journal editors and publishers heard a presentation by Susan Hassmiller, the Senior Advisor for Nursing for the Center to Champion Nursing in America.  In response to her presentation, the group decided to initiate a coordinated effort across as many nursing journals as possible, to further the possibilities for the achievement of the report’s recommendations.  So far, the INANE web site has a listing of editorials and resources that have appeared in various nursing journals over the past year or so; in the spring of 2012, many of the journals will carry focused messages about the report, articles, and other content that provides evidence and resources for their readers in moving forward.  I would encourage folks to browse this list … it is impressive, and many of the editorials are well worth looking up and reading.  Also, if you want to see Susan Hassmiller’s presentation from the INANE conference, you can find it here (scroll down to the Friday 8:00 session).

So my question for readers of the Nurse Manifest blog: can we both challenge and cooperate?  I fully agree with many of the challenges that came forward in our discussion in June, including skepticism about the source of the report, and the fact that the report’s recommendations are in fact what we might call “lame.”  However, the cold hard truth is that the recommendations of the report, which of course should already be reality, are far from real.  If we were to achieve the report recommendations as reality, do we not have a better outlook for achieving not only the fundamental goal of better health care and better nursing care, but also the ideal of seeing nursing at the center of health care policy-making.  If we simply sit on the sidelines and challenge the report, then we isolate ourselves from the places where mainstream change might be possible.  If we simply cooperate with the report without questioning some of the assumptions and directions, then we ourselves may all too easily be drawn into an abyss of the status quo.  So bottom line, to me, there is no simple way forward.  But I favor moving forward, challenging ideas and actions where possible to be heard, and with as much cooperation as possible with those who follow a more mainstream path than many of us follow!