Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Strategically Mediated Reflective Practice Framework Introducing L2 Teacher Education from a Sociocultural Perspective

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Strategically Mediated Reflective Practice Framework Introducing L2 Teacher Education from a Sociocultural Perspective

Article excerpt


Reflective practice was originally proposed by educational philosopher John Dewey in the early twentieth century. Dewey (1933) makes a distinction between action that is routine and action that is reflective. Routine action is guided primarily by an uncritical belief in tradition, and an unfailing obedience to authority, whereas reflective action is started by a conscious and cautious "consideration of any belief or practice in light of the grounds that support it and the further consequences to which it leads" (Dewey, 1933, p.4).

Exactly half a century after the publication of Dewey's book, Donald Schon (1983) published a book titled The Reflective Practitioner in which he expands Dewey's concept of reflection. Schon shows how teachers, through their informed involvement in the principles, practices, and processes of classroom instruction, can bring about fruitful perspectives to the complexities of teaching that cannot be matched by experts who are far removed from classroom realities. He distinguishes between two frames of reflection: reflection-on- action and reflection-in-action

What has to be underlined is the issue that the concept of teachers as reflective practitioners is clearly a vast improvement over the limited and limiting concept of teachers as passive technicians, where teachers have to submit themselves to the principles of methods. However, reflective teaching is not without its shortcoming. In general, reflective movement has been severely criticized for introducing reflection and reflective practice as an introspective process.

Solomon (1987) makes a powerful case for reflection as a social practice, in which the articulation of ideas to others is central to the development of a critical perspective. According to Day (1993) Reflective movement has also been criticized for its lack of attention to the discursive or dialogical dimension of teacher learning.

Moreover, Zeichner and Liston (1996) believe that reflective movement has portrayed reflection as largely a solitary and individualistic process involving a teacher and her situation and not as an interactive process. Finally, Kumaravadivelu (2003) stresses that by focusing on the role of the teacher and the teacher alone, the reflective movement tends to treat reflection as an introspective process involving a teacher and his or her reflective capacity, and not as an interactive process. Additionally, the consequence of such a shortcoming has also been highlighted eloquently by Valli (1997) stating that If left unsocialized, individual reflection can close in on itself, producing detached, idiosyncratic teachers. Because reflection is not an end in itself, but for the purpose of action, communal dialogue is essential. Many different voices are necessary. (p. 86)

Elsewhere, Lortie (1975) refers to teaching as the egg carton profession because the walls of classrooms become boundaries that separate teachers as they each occupy their own insulated niche. Consequently, engaging reflective practice aiming at teacher development in such isolation can lead to what Wells (1994) has called "the loneliness of the long-distance reflector" (p. 11).

2.The rationale of the study

The message that all of the criticisms mentioned previously want to get across is the issue that reflective teaching in its purely cognitive and introspective sense cannot be responsive to the dilemmas and the problems with which teachers encounter during their teaching practice. The very tentative solution to this problem, that is the treatment of reflective practice as an individualistic and introspective process, was introducing reflective practice from a sociocultural perspective, where any sort of knowledge is dialogically constructed as a result of interaction among individuals.

This shift in paradigm, i.e. moving from a cognitive position to a more situated and social epistemology in teacher education, has already been acknowledged and addressed by scholars such as Johnson (2006, 2009), Johnson and Golombek (2003), Golombek (2011), Freeman (2004), and Hawkins (2004) . …

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