Read it in books: literary fiction as a tool to develop moral thinking in the educator

Robin Ion, Kirsten Jack

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The ability to think critically, to reflect on and in action, to evaluate and act upon evidence are all highly regarded in nurse education. In one form or another they form part of the core of graduate nursing and the foundation upon which skills and competences are built and deployed (Caldwell and Grobbel 2013, Daly 1992, McCartney 2017). In this discussion we consider the value of a related, but distinctly different capacity - Arendt’s (1971) notion of thinking, with its emphasis on thought as a moral and ethical endeavour. Moral thinking, that is, thinking carefully about moral issues concerning nursing practice, is important in the promotion of ethical, safe and effective patient care. Where others (Roberts and Ion 2014a, 2014b) have considered this matter in relation to students, our aim is to open a space for discussion concerning the development of this attribute in nurse educators, with a specific focus on the potential for the literary arts and humanities to challenge, initiate and sustain significant change in the self. In doing this, we outline Arendt’s ideas on thinking and, by way of example, explore two works which, by challenging us to reconsider and examine positions of personal importance, have profoundly impacted our approach to our work as educators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104538
JournalNurse Education Today
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


  • nursing
  • education
  • critical thinking


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