Academic journal article Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

Reflection and Perception in Professional Practice

Academic journal article Indo - Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

Reflection and Perception in Professional Practice

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the last decade reflection has been a major theme in discussions about professional skillfulness and the development of the competence of practitioners such as nurses and teachers. The intellectual pattern that has structured ambitions in relation to reflection is found mainly in Schön's (1983) The Reflective Practitioner and the epistemological turn suggested there. This turn was influenced by Dewey (1938/ 1998) as well as by Ryle (1949) and Polanyi (1967). In this famous text (as well as in the sequel Educating the Professional Practitioner; Schön, 1987), Schön argued for a way of recognizing the skillfulness of practitioners' competence that was different from the traditional way in which this competence was recognized. Schön called for close analysis of practitioners' work and social practice, and stressed the importance of including communication between participants as well as their artifact use in these analyses (Schön, 1983).

Schön's texts (1983, 1987) were very successful. In North America, they became standard reading for teacher educators soon after their publication (Grimmett & Erickson, 1988) and today Schön's concept of 'reflection-in-action' generates 817 000 hits when googled. In addition to being brought into discussions concerning practitioners' competence, reflection and tacit knowledge (Erlandson, 2005, 2006; Newman, 1999), Schön's epistemological project has also influenced official doctrines concerning practitioner skillfulness. For example, Geerinck, Maschelin and Simons (2010) pointed out that in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) reports, there is a link between Schön's epistemology of reflection and the recognition of the professional competence of practitioners as an important factor for economic growth. Despite this popularity, Schön's theories have been criticized over the years in relation to their scientific and philosophical aspirations. As Canning (2008) pointed out, this critique mainly concerns three major topics: First, the vagueness of the conceptual structure in Schön's theories; second, the possibilities for implementing these theories; and third, the social and political implications interwoven in the theories about the reflective practitioner.

In addition to Schönien perspectives, phenomenological approaches (van Manen, 1977, 1995), critical perspectives (Beach, 2005; Carr & Kemmis, 1986) and postmodern reasoning have also been extended into this area of research (Bleakley, 2000; Cavallaro Johnsson, 2002). In addition, action-related research has played quite an important role in this field. Ziechner's practice-oriented views on reflection and practitioners' work are an early example of actionrelated research (Zeichner & Tabachinick, 1991). Within the caring sciences, Ekeberg (2007) has focused on didactics in relation to the learning process and Ghaye and colleagues (2008) from the Institute of Reflective Practice have argued for reflection as a strategy for doing both research and educational practice.

Today, Schön's texts The Reflective Practitioner (1983) and Educating the Reflective Practitioner (1987) are well known to almost every researcher in teacher education and nursery education. Grimmitt (1988) once argued that it is almost impossible to understand the problems and discussions on reflection without being familiar with the intellectual properties of Dewey. I think he was right. However, what was then applicable to Dewey's famous How We Think (1911/1997) is applicable to Schön's famous texts today. In a way, the field of reflective practice is theoretically interwoven with the legacy of Schön (whether for good or bad) and without proper understanding of Schön's proposal, qualified research on reflection in teacher and nursery education is hard to produce.

In this text I look at a dimension that is often forgotten when professional practitioners are conceived of as being reflective and this is the dimension of perception. …

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