Unfolding the Blanket of Understanding in the Listening Space: A Phenomenological Exploration of 'Being-With' in the Nursing Student-Teacher Relationship

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Packard, Mary T.
Hultgren, Francine H.
This hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry is called by the question, What is the lived experience of 'being-with' in the nursing student-teacher relationship? I engage with eight senior baccalaureate nursing students in teaching and learning together in a psychiatric-mental health nursing course. Text is gathered through their narrative work in reflective journals and taped classroom conversations, as well as through taped individual hermeneutic conversations. The exploration into the phenomenon of 'being-with' is philosophically grounded in the work of Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and David Levin. The framework of activities as identified by Max van Manen (1990) brings the research to a practical possibility. As the students and I dwell together through listening, 'being-with' in the context of our pedagogical relationship is opened up for our understanding. Accounts of lived experiences are offered and become opportunities for deep interpretation. Through this hermeneutic work experiential structures of the phenomenon of 'being-with' are brought forward and named in the presence of listening. Students and teacher alike risk vulnerability, enter into silence, and engage in profound meaning making of being in teaching and learning together. 'Being-with' in the nursing student-teacher relationship unravels as the following dimensions: creating soul space, flowing and blending in community, soul-friendship, hand of comfort in the midst of anxiety, opening an inn-between, and holding eternal echoes. Transformation through the experience and language of 'being-with' offers up possibilities for being in pedagogy and curriculum. This hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry into the phenomenon of 'being-with' in the nursing student-teacher relationship unfolds as a blanket of understanding and necessarily leads toward a pedagogy of 'being-with' the world of nursing education.