Transforming learning: teaching compassion & caring values in higher education

Just published this article which argues for the importance of teaching caring and compassionate values in health & social care education in order to support high quality care for service users and resilience in staff.  These kinds of skills are central to professional practice and in providing the skills to work effectively and reduce stress, burnout and compassion fatigue in the workplace.


As a result of reported failings in the care of people in the health and social care sector in the UK, HE providers who produce professionals to work in these areas are being challenged to address caring values in the student body. As values are subjective and affective, this requires the learning environment to not only promote critical thinking and the development of professional competencies, but to facilitate personal growth and change within students at cognitive, emotional and spiritual levels. As the latter dimensions are frequently ignored in education, this is very challenging: it requires a curriculum that supports students to understand, reflect on and, if necessary, restructure their own caring values in order to develop a transcendent lens i.e. the ability to put others before their own self interests and that of the organisation in which they work. It also requires students to develop the skills to challenge others in situations where caring values are not achieved or sustained. This can only be accomplished as a co-produced phenomenon, as it requires students who are prepared to engage in the process and educators, in both HE and practice settings, who are able and willing to role model appropriate skills and facilitate a learning relationship in which students can grow. However, if the true wisdom of caring values is to be realised in everyday practice, then this kind of transformational learning has to be supported at wider structural levels, and this just may be its Achilles heel.


To cite this article: Teena J. Clouston (2017): Transforming learning: teaching compassion and caring values in higher education, Journal of Further and Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2017.1332359

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