Reflective Practice in Education and Training

Reflective Practice in Education and Training

Books

Jodi Roffey-Barentsen & Richard Malthouse

Abstract

This is a practical guide to reflective practice for teachers and trainee teachers in the FE and skills sector. Reflective practice is a key element of teaching and this comprehensive and accessible guide introduces and explains this area of practice for trainee and new teachers. It asks ‘what is reflective practice?’ and includes an exclamation of the processes of reflection and tips on reflective writing.

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    Acknowledgements

    We would like to thank all our students for their contributions, suggestions and ideas, as they form an integral part of this book.

    We would also like to thank our editor, Jennifer Clark, for her support throughout the writing process.

    Also, a warm thank you to Professor Mike Watts, who kindly wrote the foreword.

    Foreword

    In part, the intention of a foreword is pre-reflection, to invite the reader to think ahead about the contents of the book. To reflect, pre-reflect or even post-reflect usually involves a person in thinking through recent events and, in my case, thinking about this new edition of Jodi Roffey-Barentsen and Richard Malthouse's book. There is a long and involved philosophical debate as to whether or not I should have used the word ‘my’ in that last sentence, since – the argument goes – pre-reflection does not in fact include the thinker in the processes taking place, only reflection itself does that. Pre-reflection, say philosophers like Hubert Dreyfus and Martin Heidegger, is the kind of immersion that takes place when you are deep in the middle of an absorbing conversation, engrossed in a TV programme, or gripped by a fast-moving film. That is, when you are wholly occupied in the task and not actually thinking about yourself, about what you think of it or how much you are enjoying it. As soon as you become ‘mindful’ of what you are doing, about your reservations or how much you like it, then – so they say – it becomes reflection and not pre-reflection.

    This distinction is appropriate in a text about reflection and reflective practice. In the reading, I was most certainly fully engaged with the book, its texture, tone and touch. Jodi and Richard have changed the contents for this second edition, relinquishing previous content that has now become dated, and introducing fresh material to cope with the moves and advances in principle and practice. Education and Training, like most sectors of education, is in constant change and the new chapters on reflective teaching and learning, and Situated Reflective Practice, are very welcome additions to current debates. Throughout most of our lives we are all both teachers and learners in part and in turns. Whether as formal teachers, parents or simply by virtue of being a ‘more knowledgeable other’, we find ourselves passing on knowledge and understanding to listeners and watchers. Whether as a student in a classroom or through absorbing the experience and considerations of people around us, we ‘learn a little something everyday’. The chapter on reflective learning and teaching is certainly considerable food for thought.

    Similarly Jodi and Richard provide some challenging ideas in tackling new thinking about the nature of ‘situated’ reflection. While we might reflect on our actions while they are happening, or after they are done, it is also a very common experience to be confronted by ‘immovable’ situations, where we individuals seem impotent against the operations of the ‘system’. At one level, there is a temptation simply to throw up hands and, mentally, walk away from the problem – what will be, will be. No point in thinking about it. On another level, it is entirely natural to keep mulling away at the problem. For example, we can chose to be passive in the prelude to institutional change, or we can make active plans to position ourselves to best advantage as the changes begin to wash over us. We may all be small cogs in a big machine but we can be active, self-determining cogs. The idea of Situated Reflective Practice captures these reflective choices, and Jodi and Richard provide a wealth of their own analysis and experience to steer the reader through the issues.

    Both these additions to the original text are constructive and innovative, enhancing what is a highly practical, task-based guide founded on the authors' demonstrable familiarity, perception and experience in discussing and writing about forms of reflection. This is a highly valuable book in the field. So, in extolling its immersive virtues at the start of the book like this, am I being pre-reflective or, having already read the book's chapters, am I merely being reflective? For the answer to this, and much else beside, simply read on.

    Mike WattsProfessor of Education Brunel University

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