reflective practice

I’m in the write-it-up stage of my Masters. The first topic I researched in depth was reflective practice, as espoused by Donald Schön. I spent a great deal of time reading and thinking and, er, reflecting on reflective practice.

I couldn’t see that it had much to recommend it – I know every unfortunate nursing or teaching student around the planet is cursed with a reflective practice requirement and some of the hip professors even inflict blogging on the lambs. But, what I couldn’t figure out is – if it’s such a grand idea why doesn’t everyone do it? Why does it work at all? Does it work at all?

I used to rant at my wife that the theory sounds like I should be able to sit at the bottom of a well with a journal and a pen, and come out in four years time and be better than if I’d come out in two and worked for two. And that’s just not the case. And if it’s such a hot idea why doesn’t everyone do it? And the rant would circle off again. Day after day after night after night. My original question was about how does someone get better at what they do if they’re good already. My idea had come from what I believe is a sadly limiting concept dripped around by management types: good to great. A catchy book title, yeah, sure, but what if you’re great already? No need for false modesty, some people are really really good at what they do. Lots of my work colleagues are great at what they do. How could we invest, what could we/they do to get better? ‘Gooderer’.

Enter reflective practice. But, I couldn’t see it working in practice. Down a well, rant rant…

Today, I found the quote which finally voiced where I’d reached in my research:

A frog in a well says, ‘The sky is no bigger than the mouth of the well.’

That is untrue, for the sky is not just the size of the mouth of the well. If it said, ‘Part of the sky is the size of the mouth of the well’, that would be true, for it tallies with the facts.

Chairman Mao Tse Tung

I did eventually discover what I believe is a way of improving practice, for getting gooderer, but that’s another day’s topic…


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