Developing Reflective Practice: Learning about Teaching and Learning through Modelling

By J. John Loughran | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

An Introduction to Thinking about Teaching

Teaching and learning about teaching are demanding tasks because they centre on complex, interrelated sets of thoughts and actions, all of which may be approached in a number of ways. This is true from the perspectives of both student-teachers and teacher educators. Therefore, in teaching, there is not necessarily one way of doing something. The more proficient one becomes in the skills of teaching, the more an understanding of the relationship between teaching and learning may influence practice, and the more deliberately a teacher considers his or her actions the more difficult it is to be sure that there is one right approach to teaching, or teaching about teaching.

Because of the complexities of teaching and learning about teaching, various approaches to pre-service teacher education have evolved over the years. However, one aspect of teacher education that continually receives attention in both curriculum and research is the way teachers think about their practice. Since at least the time of Dewey, such thinking about practice has been termed reflection and in teacher education courses there has been a focus on developing reflective practitioners. Programs designed to ‘make’ reflective practitioners have been vigorously pursued in pre-service and in-service education. One reason for this is the perceived common-sense link between reflection and learning, hence the value of its use in teaching and teacher education.

Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning. The capacity to reflect is developed to different stages in different people and it may be this ability which characterizes those who learn effectively from experience. (Boud, Keogh and Walker, 1985, p. 19)

But how might reflection be conceptualized and how might a teacher become a reflective practitioner?

In Dewey’s (1933) revised edition of How We Think he clearly states what he defines as reflective thinking. In so doing, it becomes immediately obvious why reflection is so central to teaching and learning.

-3-

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