The History of Reflection and what it has provided us

When looking at the history of reflection, Reijo Miettinen states, in his academic writing about reflection, that reflecting on our practices stems from...

...the faith in an individual’ s innate capacity to grow and learn.

It is interesting that some of the initial thinking about reflection happened in the 1940’s. Even back then people were understanding the importance of looking at what they were doing and exploring the concept of reflective practice.

Some of that thinking suggested that the following concepts need to be considered.

  • Defining the problem and getting facts about it
  • Formulating action possibilities in the problem situation
  • Practising human relation skills needed to carry out problem solutions
  • Formulating general principles of action
  • Planning specific steps of back-home action
  • Self-evaluation of its own problem-solving activity

Cross-referencing our thinking

Some suggest that John Dewey did some of the heavy lifting on the reflective process and study. Then other people and developed some further key areas to consider. At about this time, as a society, we started to include in reflective activities:

  • our values
  • how we see the world
  • what that brings

This is a very important part of the reflective process to understand.  If we employ only a personal reflective practice and not cross-reference our thinking with others then perhaps our values may be clouding what we see.

Below are our simplified steps of John Dewey's model:-

  1. Disturbance and uncertainty – “my habit does not work”
  2. Define the problem – “I have got my habit that does not work clearly in my mind”
  3. Observe the environment (the conditions in which this habit occurs) – “where does my habit and behaviour crop up”
  4. Think through what is really going on – “what really happened”
  5. Develop a new process – “what could I do next time”
  6. Test the new process – “I have tried a different habit, action or behaviour”
  7. Solution or back to No. 1 – “I now can see that a new habit is useful” or “That didn’t work let me rethink that”

These are powerful concepts that are covered in a general manner in the 4D Reflection tool we provided in our last blog.

We talk in more detail about our 4D Reflection tool in the weeks to come. What we need to mention is this tool is always used in conjunction with many of our reflective practices. This allows participants to establish their ideas about personal changes, in the environment the changes need to occur.

What needs to occur

Having looked briefly at the history of reflection we believe the following must occur for it to be valuable.

  • Time – I need to pause to think
  • Willingness – I need to be willing to look back with openness and honesty
  • Values – I need to have a clear understanding of the personal values that drive me
  • Process – I need to cover off the number of concepts for value to be delivered
  • Communication – I must think through who to talk to about my reflection
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