Education in the Health Professions

INNOVATIVE IDEAS
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20--21

Going beyond knowledge: Promoting subjectification in health professions education


Steven D Taff 
 Program in Occupational Therapy and Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Steven D Taff
Program in Occupational Therapy and Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MSC 8505-45-01, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63108
USA




How to cite this article:
Taff SD. Going beyond knowledge: Promoting subjectification in health professions education.Educ Health Prof 2022;5:20-21


How to cite this URL:
Taff SD. Going beyond knowledge: Promoting subjectification in health professions education. Educ Health Prof [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 14 ];5:20-21
Available from: https://www.ehpjournal.com/text.asp?2022/5/1/20/345790


Full Text



Educational philosopher Gert Biesta[1] has frequently reminded the greater educational community of the need to examine the purposes of education. In this light, Biesta[1],[2] discusses three purposes of education: qualification (knowledge and skills), socialization (enculturation into a profession), and subjectification (teaching students how, and giving them the time, to become autonomous thinkers in and for the world). Professional preparation in most health professions has focused on qualification and, to a lesser degree, socialization. Within the realm of qualification, the focus has grown to be exclusively on learning, which is a process “open—if not empty—with regard to content and direction.”[2] In contrast to learning, education implies a relationship, a community of knowers whose purpose is clear. The issue with priority on the individual learning process is that it de-emphasizes “what pupils and students learn and what they learn it for—that it matters, for example, what kind of citizens they are supposed to become and what kind of democracy this is supposed to bring about.”[2] Subjectification fits well in such an education-focused paradigm, which “arouses a desire for wanting to try to live one’s life in the world, without thinking oneself in the center of the world.”[3] Yet, despite its potential value, subjectification is rarely addressed in a formal way in explicit or hidden curricula. Education is, at its core, an ethical enterprise,[4] one end of which is to produce agile thinkers who can be change agents for their professions and the people they serve.[5] In keeping with the education theme, this innovative idea culminates in the following strategies to introduce health professions learners to the subjectification purpose of professional training:

Design curricular content that provides skills and pathways toward leadership and advocacy as key elements of professional identity. Leadership and advocacy require independence in thought, confidence to strike out on one’s own, and a service-for-others orientation. Creating career development pathways nudges students to look into their future and illuminates opportunities for leadership at the personal and professional levels.

Explicitly integrate curricular content or threads with other aspects of students’ lives. Have students create visual maps that connect course concepts to their own lives, including recreation and leisure, family, relationships, roles, student association service, and/or community engagement efforts.

Develop student skills in self-awareness as learners and thinkers. Ask students to create an individual learning profile for themselves; a self-authored guide to how they typically approach new knowledge or solve problems. Have them compare with a partner and apply to a new situation. Activities such as this help students to “learn how to learn” and distinguish themselves as independent, but not detached, thinkers.

Encourage students to offer critiques of evidence, knowledge, policy, and institutions. Students need a safe learning climate to take risks in challenging the status quo of practice, their profession, and society. Using course content as a foundation, ask students to write a letter to their local or federal policymakers/legislators, craft a “Viewpoint” article for a journal, or compose an editorial for the local news outlet.

Acknowledgement

None.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Biesta GJ. Good education in an age of measurement: On the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educ Assess Eval Acct 2009;21:33-46.
2Biesta GJ. Good education in an age of measurement: On the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educ Assess Eval Acct 2009;21:39.
3Biesta GJ. Risking ourselves in education: Qualification, socialization, and subjectification revisited. Educ Theory 2020;70:98.
4Biesta GJ. Why “what works” won’t work: Evidence-based practice and the democratic deficit in educational research. Educ Theory 2007;57:1-22.
5Brameld TBH. Education as Power. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston; 1965.