Transformative unlearning: safety, discernment and communities of learning

Nurs Inq. 2002 Sep;9(3):170-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1800.2002.00150.x.


This paper aims to stimulate awareness about the intellectual and emotional work of 'unlearning' in knowledge workers in the emerging learning age. The importance of providing a safe space for dialogue to promote transformative learning, through building 'communities of learning', is highlighted. Unlearning is conceptualized within a transformative education paradigm, one whose primary orientation is discernment, a personal growth process involving the activities of receptivity, recognition and grieving. The author utilizes the metaphor of an unfolding spiral path to explore her experience of needing to 'unlearn' a trusted nursing practice prior to 'learning' new best caring practices related to infant sleep positions. Macro and micro approaches to facilitating unlearning in organizations, in learners and in nurses are suggested.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Nursing
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Nursing / methods*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*