Louise Nelson

Retired Nurse
Herndon, VA, United States

About Louise

Bio

I became an RN in 1969 and married my one and only husband in 1970. Our life together has been challenged by 3 sons, multiple food allergies (of 2 babies), bipolar disorder type 2 (husband), multiple sclerosis (me), and any number of lesser life surprises.
As a nurse I practiced in acute care hospitals, a nursing home, the NIH Clinical Center, and a home infusion company. I've also taught prepared childbirth classes and LPN students. I spent about 15 years ('82-'97) both as a cancer nurse and on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic. I was priviliged to meet people from all over the US and to care for them as they faced difficult, life-threatening, and lethal challenges. I've been priviliged to teach nursing students from many different areas of the world as well as from here in the US.
Some of my core beliefs are:
*Human capital is our most precious commodity - nurturing and developing it, especially through wide access to basic human needs as well as through healthcare and education, should be a higher priority than any other that the human race chooses.
*No one person or group owns all the truth. Each person has their own point of view which doesn't limit what we can see and believe so much as it influences how we interpret what we see. I've told my students "You could be standing on top of a mountain looking down at me while I'm standing at the bottom looking up at you, and we would both see the same view, but it would look very different to each of us because we're each looking from a different perspective."
*Nothing can be built from the top down - not a building, not an economy, and certainly not a democracy.
*Death raining down from the sky doesn't defeat or demoralize people - it enrages them. Example: how people in the US reacted to 9/11.
*You can't shoot an idea or bomb an ideology. No one ever won a "war of ideas" by pumping up comtempt for "bad" ideas. The only way to win minds is by demonstrating that your ideas lead to better outcomes.

Comments & conversations

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Louise Nelson
Posted over 1 year ago
Tyler DeWitt: Hey science teachers -- make it fun
I suggest you google "Bloom's Taxonomy," which was a revelation to me and greatly increased my understanding of how to teach what my students needed to learn. Very briefly, knowledge (remembering) is the basis for understading (comprehension) which together are the basis for applying knowledge in a useful way(application) and so on through the increasing levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
Debate: Should students rely on technology for their homework?
I'm joining this conversation late, so I apologize if I'm repeating other's ideas. My understanding of teaching and learning took a quantum leap when I stumbled upon Bloom's Taxonomy (with Anderson's update) of cognitive activities: knowledge, (remembering) comprehension, (understanding) application, (applying) analysis, (analyzing) synthesis, (creating the highest level in Anderson's update) evaluation, (evaluating) Yes, I found this on the web. Most of the comments I've read only address the lowest level of cognitive activity - knowledge. Learning, to be of any use to the learner, at a minimum must get to the third level - understanding. To learn in a meaningful way - to develop the ability to use your own mind to manage your life and contribute to society requires the learner to actually exercise their own mind and develop not just knowledge, but understanding and the abilities to integrate new knowledge with what is already known and apply it to multiple different situations. Or simply put, using technology as a learning aid can be helpful *if* students are required to do more than just collect information or harvest the results of others' efforts. Teachers have to demand that their students get beyond collecting information by giving assignments and guiding classroom exercises that require students to demonstrate understanding and synthesis of new information. For example, a test question like "What's the state capitol of Maine?" signals students that all they need to do to pass tests is memorize facts. Questions like "Why does the US federal government have 2 houses of Congress?" or "What are some advantages and some disadvantages of having only 2 major political parties in the US?" signals students that they need to use facts that they've learned for purposes above and beyond just knowing something.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
Non-democratic system and democracy for development.
My idea is that you can't build an economy that raises the general standard of living from the top down any more than you can build a house from the roof down. Human beings just don't let go of power or wealth when they get their hands on those resources, and I've never heard of a dictator who took over control of a country with military might then built a democratic government, and then retired to go live as an ordinary citizen on a small pension. It may have happened but it's certainly not common. In my opinion building a democratic society needs the participation of a majority of the people of that society. They need to discuss, argue, build consensus about acceptable rules to live together in harmony - or at least with mutual respect, and be very stingy about what power and control of wealth is given to political and military leaders. This process can take decades at the minimum. Perhaps the United Nations can grow into an organization that builds coalitions of NGO's and other institutions/organizations/people/countries to help guide less developed countries into more developed ones - with each country having a master plan taylored to their specific situation to help that country develop the human, infrastructure, and economic resources needed there to make a basis for successful self rule and widespread increases in the standard of living. There would have to be strict limits on what economic benefits outsiders can reap for their work and *very* strict rules about gradually withdrawing their organizations' presence as the people of that country grow more able to build governing entities, starting at the village level and gradually expanding to higher levels of coordinating government entities that guide the development of the infrastructures of education, healthcare, and economic resources.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
What experiences have made you more comfortable with mental health disorders?
I haven't seen anyone note the differences between mental disorders based in brain anatomy/physiology and problems based on poor coping skills, or on attitudes/beliefs/habits that lead people into behaviors that do themselves or those around them harm, or to growing up in a dysfunctional environment or family, or suffering from a physical illness that leads to behavioral signs & symptoms (some severe vitamin deficiencies, infections, endocrine disorders for example). Consider people with clinical depression - some can get a lot of relief from cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication, others who have different brain chemistry may react badly to meds and/or get no relief from therapy strategies. People with severe brain disorders like schizophrenia, rapid cycling bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorders or other severe brain disorders can be very difficult to interact with - most folks just don't understand how to interact with someone who perceives reality very differently than they do themselves, or who isn't perceiving external reality at all well when they're in the grip of overwhelming and often terrifying hallucinations. It's awfully hard for many people to "see the other person's point of view" even when that other person is within the same range of common or normal brain function and behavior. Until the 20th century hardly anyone thought that hallucinations, obsessive/compulsive behavior and other far-out-of-the-usual-range behaviors were rooted in physical diseases and such behaviors were often assigned supernatural causes - and treatments. Less severe behavior issues were often simply dismissed as "That's the way s/he is." It wasn't until medications that could influence psychotic behaviors were discovered and brought into use that anyone thought that severe mental disorders could be brought under control at all - sufferers here in the US were institutionalized and expected to remain in that environment for life.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
What experiences have made you more comfortable with mental health disorders?
I'd say Nuri that if loud music helps you actually cope - not just distract you from your worries, it's a good coping mechanism. If music just distracts you so you feel better when listening, but the worries are unchanged it's not a good coping strategy. I think most people have distraction strategies that just put whatever problem aside for a while, but those who learn ways to face their concerns, to think of ways to manage them or to improve their situation will do better in the long run. One useful strategy I've learned is first figure out exactly why I'm worried, afraid, angry or whatever - what assumptions about myself and the situation am I working from? If I have a worrisome situation - expenses exceeding income, job loss, whatever else, after step one above I ask myself "What's the worst thing that can happen here? What will I do if that happens? As soon as I begin to see that the universe won't come to an end and that I'm unlikely to end up living in a cardboard box my anxiety begins to decrease. Then I ask myself "What's most likely to happen?" "What will I do if that happens?" At this point it's surprising how often I can think of strategies to handle the situation, and my fears are down to a managable level.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
Discuss the ways the media influences or tries to influence your vote.
I see a lot of folks here that are frustrated with political reporting in much of the media. Try this website http://votesmart.org/ from the homepage:"Biographies, voting records, issue positions, ratings, speeches, campaign finance information. All politicians [US]. Instantly." and "At a unique research center located high in the Montana Rockies and far from the partisan influences of Washington, our staff, interns, and volunteers are working hard to strengthen the most essential component of democracy – access to information. Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization funded exclusively through individual contributions and philanthropic foundations." Another organization I like is the Center for Public Integrity at http://www.publicintegrity.org/ from the homepage click on the link to the politics section and have a look at what you don't often see in the hometown paper or on the evening news.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
Discuss the ways the media influences or tries to influence your vote.
I'm very frustrated by the way campaigns for elected office in the US have devolved into some sort of absurd theater - a lot of smoke and scant substance. I keep wondering where they find actors with the ability to switch from clear speech that projects deep conviction: "Our candidate won the admiration of tea party republicans and new-age democrats, achieved world peace, conquered AIDS, and has been nominated for sainthood!" then a quick switch to a sneering voice when they proclaim "Our opponent has a long history of injectable drug abuse, aspires to bankrupt the nation, and eats small children for breakfast!" Cheez. Since these tactics have overcome sane discussions on how to manage the nation I suspect that there are a lot of voters out there who can't be bothered to search for non-partisan info on important issues and listen only to what they want to hear. My view is that millions of Americans have put their lives on the line to give us the ability to vote and to keep that precious right. I owe them - and my nation, nothing less than taking time every day to pay attention to what's happening in my country and the world, consult multiple information sources outside of politics and try to respect and understand those who disagree with me. Everybody learns the lessons their own life teaches. I've never been a cowboy, business owner, astronaut, actor, or deep sea explorer. All those folks have good reasons for seeing the world differently than I do and I'd really *really* like to have a better grasp of their needs and priorities - and have the ability to help them better understand what my life taught me rather than having campaigns fillied with "truthiness" insead of substance. Our founding fathers designed a government with checks & balances to give *everyone* some influence. I resent those who want to game the system to overcome the essential fairness built into our government with propaganda, half-truths, and emotional manipulation.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
What is the key to smarter decisions?
Allan, your comment reminds me that I wish more business leaders would consider that if they're not investing in developing human capital they're likely to waste a lot of valuable resources - and not make as much money as they could otherwise.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
What is the key to smarter decisions?
Robert I have to wonder if high-powered leaders who make disasterous decisions are really able to get good, true, objective information about the situations they will influence, or if the structure of leadership often evolves in a way that isolates people with great power over large populations from getting unbiased information. I would hope that, given 21st century technology, leaders of powerful organizations and countries would sometimes abandon the briefing books and pre-digested information served up to them, then just get on the world wide web and see what people outside of their own power structure and experiencing and saying.
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Louise Nelson
Posted almost 2 years ago
What is the key to smarter decisions?
My understanding of human motivation is that emotion is "fuel" that can power our willingness to act. Emotions are neither "good" nor "bad" in themselves any more than fire or electricity are. Think of emotions as a form of energy or power. As with all power, how it's used and what it accomplishes can be good, bad, or neutral. Anger, for example, is a basic human response to threat. It can fuel violence and really bad decisions that lead to really bad outcomes, or the opposite. For example, when my son was having big problems as a high school freshman and his principal was clearly more interested in stomping out a perceived threat to his authority than in helping my son I was enraged - but I didn't lose my temper. I used that anger to fuel the determination and persistence I needed to get my son a very good counselor and to get him out of that school. My anger carried me through the involved process of jousting with health insurance and school bureaucracies. It was *very* satisfying to accomplish that. Allowing the limbic system where emotions are generated to outflank or overcome the prefrontal cortex, where we have abilities like self control, planning ahead, connsidering consequences, making reasonably good guesses about others' responses to our actions, etc can easily lead to bad decisions. *Recognizing* one's own emotions - or at least one's own urges to do or not do something, is IMO, one essetial tool for making good decisions, along with good information and understanding cause/effect cascades.