Learning to Unlearn


To move into new domains of learning and knowledge there is a need for revolutionary thinking to be confident enough to rise to the challenge of moving into the unknown. Education from school to university and then into workplace, is normally planned and structured around a developmental trajectory as a persons skills, knowledge and experience increase. But what about the future and learning, if we don’t know the skills or knowledge that we will require, how do we unlearn any irrelevant information? This could be termed as a deimplementation process of learning. The process of unlearning becomes an important process in our learning skills repertoire.

From the organisation viewpoint comes the focus on becoming ‘learning organisations’, but maybe this could be supported with seeking new logic and a process of unlearning. “Unlearning is not about forgetting. It’s about the ability to choose an alternative mental model or paradigm” (Bonchek, 2016). The skill is recognising mental models that are no longer relevant or effective. This reflexivity of working with uncertainty could be benefited by utlising already well used practices such as self reflection, which could focus on considering any of our biases we hold and allowing change to occur as we move forward.

This post was inspired by the Twitter conversation below, thanks to @precordialthump.

Keywords: Unlearning; Reflexivity; Transformation; learning.


Bonchek, M. (2016).Why the Problem with Learning is Unlearning. Harvard Business Review.

Klein, E. J. (2008). Learning, unlearning, and relearning: Lessons from one school’s approach to creating and sustaining learning communitiesTeacher Education Quarterly35(1), 79-97.

McGregor, A. (2018). Unlearning: The key to the unlock 21st Century problems? International Teacher Magazine (ITM).

Authentic, Engaging & For The Learning

Authenticity is key, don’t worry too much on making everything beautiful and perfect is the message when creating online resources. Visualisation is important to grab attention, and imagery can portray powerful messages but follow the substance over style to start with. Authenticity can be seen in a range of ways from the delivery, to the content created with the target audience in mind for a personalised approach to education. Yes something more visual may be more eye-catching and engaging but we don’t all have the skills, resources or time to create such masterpieces (slide-ology). Just add this skill as part of your professional development or outsource it to an expert.

Focus on authenticity, engagement, participation, collaboration and learning new skills. Try to forget about worrying about the type of learning management system or password protection in the learning environment. Technology develops so fast that why not go with the free and open technology to prevent wastage of valuable money? It’s an expensive lesson when technology does not meet your training needs, becomes quickly outdated and requires specialist training for staff to understand and engage. Also if the resource was quick and cheap to make, your more likely to update and replace this resource than an expensively created one that you hang onto and over time becomes obsolete. In the real world, consider where you, your colleagues and students are communicating, it’s likely not in a learning management system. In everyday lives we use social media to network (socially and professionally), so why not engage and set some learning tasks in the online domain? Provide support to guide discussion around the topic and maintain confidentially (check your employer and national body social medial compliance rules if your the facilitator).

Learning Networks

Don’t forget using different media and resources can allow greater connection and engagement to a wider community of students, professionals and experts. Become a global citizen, who want’s to work in silo’s anyhow?


Dedicate some reading time from the resource section below, focusing on the potential benefits of how an open pedagogical approach can benefit learning for both student and educator. David Price (OBE) book on education OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learning the future is a fantastic look into the school, higher education and workplace of the future.

Inspiration: Take a look at this bio on Sir Tew from Wikipedia and using open access in education, “The end of throwaway assignments and the beginning of real-world impact for student editors”.

Skills Learnt

  • Digital literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Engagement
  • Creating
  • Authorship



#InternetAsThePlatform, #PersonalLearningNetwork, DigitalLiteracy, #FOANed, #FOAMed


DeRosa, R. (2016) My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practice. Actualham.

Blackall, L. (2016) No LMS- an argument for when your institution comes to reviewing their Learning Management System. Leigh Blackall Blogspot.

Price, D. (2013). OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learning the future. Crux Publishing Ltd. [sample here]

University of South Australia. (2013) Resourcing and Materials – Teaching and Learning Languages: A Guide.

Wikiversity (2015) Human Vision and Function.

Gestalt Theory in Healthcare

Pattern or Form

The main premise of Gestalt education theory is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In a Gestalt approach, it is believed students are able to comprehend a concept in its entirety rather than broken down into segments.

“A person’s ability to organize and transforming what is taught into a general pattern (or Gestalt). They believed that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and breaking the behavior into its components, generally destroy the whole concept of behavior” Aliakbari, Parvin, Heidari, & Haghani (2015).

Gestalt theory can be considered part of the phenomenology approach to education in that the learner comes with perceptions and relates to past experiences which have a significant impact on their approach to learning. Education is delivered with relation to the learners real life experiences and this is when learning happens best.

Say What You See

“The gestalt effect is the capability of our brain to generate whole forms, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of global figures instead of just collections of simpler and unrelated elements (points, lines, curves, etc) (Wikipedia, 2017).

The Gestalt theory of learning presents information or images that contain gaps and elements that requires the learner to use critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Gestalt in Healthcare

“This implies that clinicians have the ability to indirectly make clinical decisions in absence of complete information and can generate solutions that are characterized by generalizations that allow transfer from one problem to the next. In essence, clinical gestalt is pattern recognition and is characterized as a heuristic approach to decision-making” (Cook, 2009).

So Gestalt could be considered our clinical judgement and decision making process. The question I still have in regards to this theory is, is this just our ‘priors’, our knowledge and experience providing an all round clinical expertise to make clinical judgments? In nursing is this purely our tacit knowledge, our gut feeling or sixth sense?

Keywords: Gestalt; problem solving; phenomenology; learning theory.


Aliakbari, F., Parvin, N., Heidari, M., & Haghani, F. (2015). Learning theories application in nursing education. Journal of education and health promotion, 4. [abstract]

Cook, C. (2009). Is clinical gestalt good enough? J Man Manip Ther. 2009; 17(1): 6–7. Doi:  10.1179/106698109790818223

Wikipedia (2017) Gestalt Psychology



Minecraft & Gamification

Now I am not a gaming person but for skills of the future I have decided for my own personal development, that my aims for the coming 12- 24 months are to engage in gaming environments (Minecraft to start) and also learn some basic coding skills. Hopefully you find these resources useful when starting out, if you know of any others please post them in the comment section at the bottom of this post. When I somehow find some spare time to commence coding I will create a post with links to any of the resources I have used (I aim to learn using open access resources so it will all be free).

For those in school education, there is also a Minecraft Education edition that promotes an online world with collaboration and problem-solving in an immersive environment.

Keywords; gaming, immersive, problem-solving, collaboration, Minecraft.


DigMinecraft (2017) Getting started in Minecraft.

Minecraft (2017) Minecraft Official Site.

Minecraft Education Edition (2017) What is Minecraft Education.

Wikipedia (2017) Minecraft.

Phenomenon Based Learning (PhenoBL)

So Finland is leading the way in approaching education in a different way in the digital age. Finland has become renowned for its innovative educational approach to education with shorter days, shorter terms, more play and no homework! Education moves out of the classroom to engage with the outside world in person or online. Use of innovative technology and sources outside the school are key to the success, engaging experts and museums to enhance the learning experience and create learning networks.

What is PhenoBL?

“Phenomenon based teaching and learning use the natural curiosity of children to learn in a holistic and authentic context. Holistic real-world phenomena provide the motivating starting point for learning, instead of traditional school subjects. The phenomena are studied as holistic entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects. Phenomena are holistic topics like human, European Union, media and technology, water or energy. This enables students also to learn 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity, innovation, team work and communication” (Phenomenal Education, 2017).

21st Century Skills

The freedom to discover, communication, remove traditional classroom barriers, become connected and be adaptable.


  • Digital citizens
  • Critical thinkers
  • Technical skills
  • Innovators
  • Team players
  • Global citizens


Does this approach favour the brightest, who understand what is expected of them while the lower end struggle with concepts and higher thinking. This approach can potentially widen the education gap.

What about the grounding of baseline knowledge, does this take a step too far in the taxonomy of learning and steps are missed out for true understanding?

The jury is still out until actual evidence this approach actually works on a wider scale in other environments, other than in Finland.

Heavy workload for the facilitator, again reproducibility is  the question. Finland has small class sizes, well funded schools and a very different education system compared to most countries.

Adult Learning

My personal thoughts are this is an amazing approach and challenges the testing and accreditation heavy educational philosophy that is standardising education into a restrictive manner for both student and teacher. But the classroom still has face to face time which is essential to set goals and expectations. I do think in online learning this can be achieved but it takes time, effort and highly motivated learners to truly engage. Also in vocational professions, such as in healthcare there has to be hands-on and experiential learning events.

Keywords: PhenoBL; Phenomenon-based Learning.


Iyer, H. (2015) EdTech Meets Phenomenon Based Learning.

Kekkonen, T. & Tallinn, A.L. (2015) Phenomenon Based Learning: Students on the Focus.

Phenomenal Education (2017) Phenomenon-based Learning: Re-thinking from Finland.


Learning Goals in Textbooks

I came across this sticker inside my daughter’s reading book and was intrigued with the learner profiles, value and attitudes. All this for 5 year old’s – very impressive indeed. It is amazing the amount of thought around the learning goals of children’s literature and how it shapes their future. Even the language used to break down stereotypes such as gender bias. In healthcare we still have far to go in changing the male:doctor and female:nurse stereotypes within the literature.

The International Baccalaureate aims to “prepare students for the intellectual challenges of further education and their future careers, focusing on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.”

Future ready, global citizen, problem based learning all skills aimed for the developing child, these are similar aspirations from the higher education setting (take a look at any University prospectus). Just need to add the work ready aspect and these children will be ready for future workplace where innovation, creativity, self employment will be key. The aims of the learner profiles, attitudes, and values are a very similar approach to the taxonomy and intended learning outcomes that you will set for education sessions and courses in workplace and higher education settings.


International Baccalaureate (2017). What is the PYP?

Nursing Education Network (2016). Bloom’s Taxonomy & Constructivism.

Nursing Education Network (2016). Intended Learning Outcomes.

Experiential Learning: Kolb and Schon

Through discovering and reading all the different education theories, research and technology, I find myself returning to the concepts of experiential learning (hands on learning), to focus educational approach for the adult learner. The education delivered is thus more relevant, meaningful and engaging for participants and facilitators. You can add problem based and collaborative training to this philosophy to provide a more rounded education session.

“Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes” (Kolb, 2008).

Experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) is learning from experiences, and mainly in the active sense and is the cornerstone of nurse development. On the job learning, is a large component of postgraduate nurse training, and is a planned and supported process for the nurse to experience increasingly challenging situations whilst developing knowledge and skills. Piaget’s concept of schema theory and the organized structure of memories elicit that past experience and the knowledge we possess develop over time (Winn and Snyder, 1996). This schematic learning process really exemplifies nurse’s development in the workplace environment. To complete Kolb’s learning cycle: Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation are required in the learning process.

Reflection in action, reflection on action

Schon’s reflection theory focuses on everyday action by professional workers. Reflection-in-action” and “reflection-on-action” provides critical reflection on what informs practice and how they subsequently develop or hinder workplace practices.

  • Reflecting and deciding what works best at that particular time, for that unique event/incident (Reflection-in-action).
  • Reflecting post an event on how practice can be developed (Reflection-on-action).


Reflection is a major component of development and learning throughout nurse training , and applying Gibbs (1988) and Johns (2009) reflective processes in nursing, help make sense of experiences and summarise events. Be careful not to try to make every reflection ‘a critical event’, sometimes we can miss the important events of power and hierarchy, as we often focus on the exciting code blue or conflict scenario. Meaning and understanding can be found in everyday workplace activities as healthcare is never without incident.


Kolb, A. Y., & Kolb, D. A. (2008). Experiential Learning Theory: A Dynamic, Holistic Approach to Management Learning. Journal of Education and Development, 17(9), 312-317.

Kolb, D, A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development.

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: a Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. London: FEU.

Johns, C. (2009). Becoming a Reflective Practitioner. Chichester, U.K: Wiley-Blackwell.

John Hattie & Visible Learning

Journal Club Article: Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge [sample].


Aimed “to synthesize over 800 meta-analyses about the influences on achievement to present a more global perspective on what are and what are not key influences on achievement” (Hattie, 2008). Hattie found 138 influences of learning from the synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses.

Big Data in Education

Hattie is bringing big data into the field of education. Using the meta-analysis approach of healthcare, like Cochrane and combining the research to provide a dataset with more impact.

Visible Learning, Visible Teaching

According to Hattie, learning is the explicit goal and this occurs when feedback is given, active participation from student and teacher, learning strategies are provided, development of self-regulatory attributes and the student becomes the teacher. Teachers see learning though the eyes of the student and aid them to become the students to become their own teachers. The teacher role becomes one of support, guidance and instruction and knowing when support is required. When all this occurs in teaching we have:

  1. Visible Learning
  2. Visible Teaching

The 2 infographics below, summarise the work of John Hattie very succinctly. The question for the nurse educator is to work out what relevant from Hattie’s work that can be transferred from the school setting (pedagogy) into adult learning (andragogy).

Areas Relevant For Nurse Education

Like any education research from the school setting it must be considered if this is relevant and transferable to the adult and workplace education setting. But it’s always good to visit new and different ways to deliver education.

  • Piaget’s cognitive development theory and learning how to learn.
  • Providing meaningful and regular feedback.
  • Use of formative assessment to gauge learning progress.
  • Micro-teaching- small group work with engagement and discussions.
  • Discussions on important issues.
  • Teacher clarity.
Visual Learning Infographics

Video Resources


Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. Routledge. [Goodreads blurb]

Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge [sample].

Developing Person-Centred Care: Addressing Contextual Challenges Through Practice Development

Journal Club Article: McCormack, B., Dewing, J., & McCance, T. (2011). Developing person-centred care: addressing contextual challenges through practice development. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 16, No. 2, Manuscript 3.

This article aims to identify and discuss issues to consider in the development of person-centred care. As healthcare moves into service deliver for the individual then the focus of person-centred care will become increasingly important in training nurses of the future and current ones to deliver care on an individual level.

What is Person-Centred Care?

McCormack et al. (2011) define person-centred care as “an approach to practice that is established through the formation and fostering of therapeutic relationships between all care providers, patients, and others significant to them.”

How to Deliver Person-Centred Care?

“Developing person-centred care is not a one-time event; rather it requires a sustained commitment from organisations to the ongoing facilitation of developments, a commitment both in clinical teams and across organizations.”

  • Practice context,
  • Workplace culture,
  • Learning culture,
  • Physical environment.

The authors suggest in healthcare there are ‘person-centred moments’, at the individual level with ad hoc experiences of person-centredness occurring but not at a sustained and meaningful level.

“…it must further be considered how person-centred moments can be transformed into ‘person-centred cultures’ of practice…”


“The international drive (particularly over the past 15 years) to ‘modernise’ healthcare systems has led to a significant focus on the impact of culture on the clinical effectiveness of staff and service-user experiences of health and social care. Cultures are also characterised by shared values, team effectiveness, a commitment to continuous learning and improvement, and transformational leadership.”

“The key goal in the development of a positive learning culture is to recognize and overcome individual, group, and organizational barriers in order to move towards an effective culture and to overcome the features of workplaces that nurture hierarchical management and horizontal violence (Brown & McCormack, 2011).”

Person-centred care must underpin culture of teams and organisations. This requires empowerment and emancipatory practice to occur throughout the organisation. The traditional hierarchy and autocratic practice will need to be addressed to create an organisational change.

Contextual Factors and the Development of Person-Centred Care

The authors ask us to consider the shifts when it all worked, it clicked into place and the team worked. Admission, discharges, post ops, deterioration, family updates, all staff were well supported and you finished with a buzz and achievement that you expected nursing to on a regular basis. Positive thoughts here, hopefully you can recollect one shift in recent times (even you UK NHS staff).

Why can’t it be like this all the time?

This is the question we need to ask and reflect on. What was it about this shift that made it all work and how can we replicate this. So for person-centred care the focus is not just on the client but also the healthcare team. If they cannot perform to their best, then the service will not excel.

The authors recognise and “acknowledge that we do not work in a state of utopia, and that everyday practice is challenging, often stressful, sometimes chaotic, and largely unpredictable”. So some days will just be awful, sad and depressing but if we can make them fewer then surely staff satisfaction, teamwork, burnout and other stressors could be reduced.

Education focus: Active Learning 

A learning culture is a culture in which nurses view their work as exciting and revitalising, offering them the prospect for both personal and professional growth.

“Active learning draws on many activities including multiple intelligence’s, critical reflection, learning from self, and also conversations and shared experiences with others, all of which enable facilitation of change in the workplace. Central to active learning is both the translation of learning into practice so that the practitioner’s own practice is experienced differently and the enabling or facilitating of active learning with others. Active learning takes knowledge, in its many forms, and looks at how it can become (emotionally) meaningful for individuals and teams.”

How do I move towards this way of nursing?

“Developing Person-Centred Care Through Emancipatory Practice Development Practice which emphasises the central place of learning through everyday practice, what we have come to describe as ‘active learning.”

The Environment

“the physical environment needs to work in concert with the cultural values in care teams and the ways of working that enable person-centredness to be realised. In this respect, two aspects of the physical environment need to be attended to, namely, the built environment and the aesthetic environment. Most hospitals and healthcare facilities have been designed and built with ‘clinical efficiency,’ and not personcentredness, in mind.”


In the development of a framework for person-centred nursing, McCormack and McCance (2010) identified a range of attributes of practice contexts that impacted on the operationalisation of person-centred care. Of particular significance were workplace culture, learning culture, and the physical environment. The health organisation needs to provide conditions that are necessary for staff to feel empowered.

Keywords: person-centred; emancipation; culture; active learning; transformational leadership.


McCormack, B., Dewing, J., & McCance, T. (2011). Developing person-centred care: addressing contextual challenges through practice development. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 16, No. 2, Manuscript 3.

McCormack, B., Manley, K, & Garbett, R. (2008). Practice Development in Nursing. [sample here]