Friday, 9 October 2009

Reflection on reflection

Moon suggests that:

'Reflection is a form of mental processing that we use to fulfill a purpose or to achieve some anticipated outcome. It is applied to gain a better understanding of relatively complicated or unstructured ideas and is largely based on the reprocessing of knowledge, understanding and possibly emotions that we already possess.'

Perhaps there is also a an element of possibility (I would call it future) thinking...'What might happen if...' and suggest that this engagement with possibility is central to the process of reflection. SO reflection may well be the 'reprocessing of knowledge' but it is a reprocessing with some possibility, or more likely possibilities, in mind. One might suggest here then the reflection is a reprocessing and re-purposing of knowledge. In addition to this the engagement of possibility brings with it 'serendipity'. Since possibility is not a known but conjecture there are other alternative possibilities some unexpected, unintended and therefore at times 'serendipitous'.

Moon goes on to look at the role of reflection in learning. Here we are presented with a model that is redolent of a constructivist view of learning. The need to relate what is learned to what is known. One might add that if we use the metaphor of scaffolding then what we are constructing takes account of what lies underneath, but also attempts takes account of what it is thought possible or likely to be further added. Here reflection/learning is something that takes place within a plan. This might be formal, explicit and codified (this course for example) or it may be informal, implicit and fluid. Again the construction of reflection is as dependant on what might come after as it is on what went on before.

More to follow...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Reflectiong on the future

A Tweet this morning hijacked my mind and led to this bauble of a reflection.

T @al2615: Can you reflect on something in the future?

My gut feeling is yes and no. When saying ‘reflection’ in a sense we are making use of metaphor, here comparing a way of thinking with the way images appear (to a greater or lesser degree distorted) in for example water or a mirror. It is important to remember this metaphorical root since it implies with it a limitation and we can find ourselves shackled by the metaphor.

Reflection before action

Reflection for me is a kind of critical review of things done, with the intention of making changes to what I do next. This is like the Denning cycle of plan-do-review. The review feeds the next plan, and is very much part of it and review/plan is what constitutes my reflection. SO when making a professional reflection ‘on action’ it is inextricably linked with future action. If I am to use my reflection for future action (and thereby presumably achieving some goal, aim or objective) then in some way I must be reflecting upon that which does not yet exist. If we have ‘reflection in action’, and ‘reflection on action’, then we can, and I think must, have ‘reflection before action’. SO as a good citizen concerned about the environment I have reflected upon the carbon footprint I leave when flying around the place. I have reflected on the impact this has, I have thought carefully about the harm I have caused. Now I reflect on a possible trip to Prague for a weekend, or a shopping trip to New York. I reflect upon the harm that I will probably cause by doing this and what the ultimate consequences might be. I reflect upon the sort of world I would like my children and your children to live in. I consider what the possible alternatives will be and then make a decision.

Future History-what if reflection

A further version of this is to ‘reflect’ on what might be. 1984, Animal Farm, I robot and the laws of Robotics, Fahrenheit 451 all portray attempts to f=reflect on what might be: often with a cautionary quality to them. This I would call ‘visionary reflection’. It is rather more than mere speculation (though that has its place) and has at it best a striking reflective quality to it since it ‘looks for interrelations beyond the superficial’. They try to take account of historical and current influences and directions and use these to build a critical picture of what might be.