Reflective practice definitions, quotes and references
The need for reflection in developing teachers
Professional practices often reflect an unquestioned acceptance of values, norms, and practices defined by others about what is 'in the best interests' of students and teachers, and a lack of awareness of alternative practices. Both uncritically assimilated practices and new alternatives need critical examination from several perspectives so that the learning and teaching strategies you use are consistent with your values, beliefs, and assumptions about learning.
Reflection often needs 'creative silence', a 'time when ideas can 'simmer' and 'cook' a while in the learner's mind.
Reflection often involves a close analysis of a 'disorientating dilemma' (Mezirow,1978) or a 'felt doubt' (Dewey,1933). It can be an emotional response triggered by actions, decisions or comments.
'One can think reflectively only when one is willing to endure suspense and to undergo the trouble of searching ... to be genuinely thoughtful, we must be willing to sustain and protract that state of doubt which is the stimulus to thorough inquiry.'John Dewey, educational philosopher
'The unfinishedness of the human person (in) a permanent process of searching.'
'A reflective practice examination of personal practice needs to be undertaken alongside open discussions with peers on the issues raised, an examination of texts from the larger field of work and politics, and discussions with colleagues from outside the practitioners' own milieu. Reflective practice work can then become politically, socially as well as psychologically useful, rather than a mere quietist navel-gazing exercise.'
'Being reflexive is focusing close attention upon one's own actions, thoughts and feelings and their effects; being reflective is looking at the whole scenario: other people, the situation and place, and so on.'
The work and comments of Boud et al (1985) identify that some of that learning may not be as anticipated because reflection is an active process of exploration and discovery which often leads to very unexpected outcomes.
'Reflection in the context of learning is a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to new understandings and appreciation.'
Atkins and Murphy (1993)
Brookfield (1995) offers six reasons why critical reflection is important: