Revisit your personal philosophy of teaching. What learning strategies (discussed in chapter 7) that are influenced by your personal philosophy of teaching might you integrate into the curricula? Discuss how the learning strategies you described align with your personal philosophy of teaching. 



Philosophical Foundations of the Curriculum

Theresa M. “Terry” Valiga, EdD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN

Beautiful words. Admirable values. Published prominently on websites and in catalogues, student handbooks and accreditation reports. The philosophical statement of a school of nursing is accepted by faculty as a document that must be crafted to please external reviewers, but for many it remains little more than that. Far too often the school’s philosophy remains safely tucked inside a report but is rarely seen as a living document that guides the day-to-day workings of the school.

In reality, the philosophy of a school of nursing should be referenced and reflected upon often. It should be reviewed seriously with candidates for faculty positions and with those individuals who join the community as new members. It should be discussed in a deliberate way with potential students and with students as they progress throughout the program. And it should be a strong guiding force as the school revises or sharpens its goals, outlines action steps to implement its strategic plan, and makes decisions about the allocation of resources.

This chapter explores the significance of reflecting on, articulating, and being guided by a philosophy, examines the essential components of a philosophy for a school of nursing, and points out how philosophical statements guide the design and implementation of the curriculum and the evaluation of its effectiveness. The role of faculty, administrators, and students in crafting and “living” the philosophy is discussed, and the issues and debates surrounding the “doing of philosophy” (

Greene, 1973
) are examined. Finally, suggestions are offered regarding how faculty might go about writing or revising the school’s philosophy.

What Is Philosophy?

The educational philosopher Maxine

Greene (1973)
challenged educators to “do philosophy.” By this she meant that we need to take the risk of thinking about what we do when we teach and what we mean when we talk of enabling others to learn. It also means we need to become progressively more conscious of the choices and commitments we make in our professional lives. Greene also challenged educators to look at our presuppositions, to examine critically the principles underlying what we think and what we say as educators, and to confront the individual within us. She acknowledged that we often have to ask and answer painful questions when we “do philosophy.”

In his seminal book, The Courage to Teach, Parker