In considering this week’s study questions; What do need to still learn about NGL? How will learn it? How did you learn it?
I feel that critical reflection is one of them. David’s link to The University College Dublin‘s page on How to be Critical when Reflecting on Your Teaching provided useful food for thought. In particular on self-reflection;
‘It is based on the assumption that self-reflection will be almost inevitably distorted by the social context and personal history of the reflector.’
I find this is a problem and not only a problem but a barrier to my personal growth. As it goes onto say,
‘…critical reflection entails a challenge to the hidden assumptions of both the reflector and those of the surrounding social context. Critical reflection goes beyond mere reflection, which could be simply a review of actions in the light of accepted precepts, in that it requires the reflector to “deconstruct long-held habits of behaviour by looking beyond the behaviour itself to their own self-image and examining why they do what they do”. (Silverman & Casazza 2000: 239).’
I find that we need others to bounce off, provide feedback and challenge us – only through this experience can we progress. Without a community we can live in a reality which isn’t quite accurate. Brookfield’s (1988) four activities to critical reflection summarise the assumptive dilema,
‘ Assumptions are our way of seeing reality and but if we are unaware of them they can trap us into false reasoning.’
And the danger is that if we head off in a certain direction based upon this ‘false reasoning’ it could cause a raft of problems down the track as well as cost significant dollars.
So how do we challenge our assumptions if we don’t where they hide and what are the implications for either me as a student, learner or teacher? For example in one of the projects I have worked on we made the assumption that all adults were self-directed learners and built a range of tools to support end users in using new software. We were fortunate in that we achieved some good outcomes but had we the time we would have tested that assumption.
I discovered a great article titled, Learning to teach by uncovering out assumptions. In particular I liked this quote;
‘Everything we do in the classroom is founded on a set of assumptions about learning and teaching, about knowledge, and about what counts as legitimate reading and writing. That is, each of us operates on the basis of what Chris Argyris (1976) calls our “action theories. ” Our beliefs about learning and teaching are largely tacit. We operate a good deal of the time from an intuitive sense of what is going on without actively reflecting on what our intentions might be and what our actions could be saying to students. Our beliefs about learning and teaching can only be uncovered by engaging in systematic self-critical analysis of our current instructional practices.’
The article goes onto say,
‘I can see our learning opportunities come from comments made in passing, from a statement overheard, from something a student might write in a journal, from something we might read either because it confirms our experiences or because we disagree and have to consider what we believe instead, or because it opens possibilities we haven’t thought about before.’
So in bringing this back to NGL I think that the connectivist experience offers all of us for the purpose of student, learner and teacher the opportunity for critical reflection through the testing of our assumptions.