Reflective Approach And Reflective Thinking In Developing Education Essay

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Accordingly, it is noted that they agree that reflective teachers employ cognitive processes in order to solve the problems which might face them in their daily professional practice. On the other hand, the notion of reflective thinking traced back to Dewey (1910) which refers to "problem framing, identifying alternative solutions and choosing from options according to the outcome we want and the situation at hand" (Dewey: 1910 cited in Roberts: 1998).

The main reasons for the adoption of reflective approach and reflective thinking:

There are many reasons for the adoption of reflective approach and reflective thinking in teacher development programs which I think they are considered positive aspects. One of these aspects is that reflection approach provides a solution for teachers to shift from the routinised and automatic acts in their classroom situations and enables them to possess awareness about the kinds of decisions which they might make in their teaching and choosing the consequences of their instructional decisions. This can be achieved through reflecting on one's teaching as a step towards change in their teaching way (Richards: 1995).Because, according to (ibid: 1995) teachers who utilised reflective analysis in their own teaching admitted that it is a valuable element for professional growth and self - evaluation.

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Another positive aspect is that the adoption of reflective thinking in teacher education can be considered a beneficial factor because, as Posner (1989) points out, when students teachers have the reflective thinking they will have new teaching ways instead of being tradition and have the possibility to interpret new experiences derived from their fresh ideas as a result of reflective thinking. Further more, reflective thinking will enable teachers to possess a philosophical approach to teach coherently because, by developing this kind of thinking they have the ability to integrate various types of knowledge which could be received during their teacher development program.

On the other hand, it is important to note that reflection which is the basic component in reflection approach and reflective thinking has many advantages which can not be ignored. One of these advantages is that we can achieve the personal growth through reflection, because it makes us free from single views of situations which might hinder our thinking in defining problems and finding solutions. Moreover, problems which might face teachers can be reframed in different ways by reflection. Thus, providing a wide range of possible ideas then, helping teachers to have a wide range of possible solutions (Dewey: 1910 cited in Roberts: 1998). Additionally, when teachers use reflection they will have the ability to think about educational aspects of their work and a raise awareness of important ethical and moral questions (Van Manen: 1977). However, it is worth noted to mention the importance of critical reflection as Richards (1998) indicates that it enables teacher to have comprehension knowledge about themselves as teachers as a result, they can be prepared well to have a decision about their own teaching. This view can be supported by Dewey in 1904 when he pointed out "preparing teachers to be critically reflective about their practice may be more

important in long term than focussing on mastery of the techniques and skills" (Dewey: 1904 cited in Richards: 1998:152).

On the other hand, reflective teachers characterise by positive features according to the finding of a longitudinal study conducted by Korthagen and Wubbels (1995) regarded to teacher education program in Utrecht. These features include: First, reflective teacher have the ability to structure situations and problems. Second, they can evaluate their experience by using questioning approach for example, asking questions such as, why and how this happened in their own teaching. Third, they possess strong feeling of personal security and self - efficacy and able to analyze and describe experience and interaction perfectly. Fourth, they are independent learners because they have clear understanding about what they need to learn.

Hence, from what discussed above, we can see that reflective approach and reflective thinking play an important role which can not be ignored in teacher development programs.

The underlying principles of reflective approach:

Since reflection is considered an important element in reflective approach, writers such as (Dewey: 1910, 1933; Schön: 1983; Wallace: 1991) gave a great deal of discussion based on it. I am going to analyse the principles of reflective approach based on their discussions as follows:

The principles based on Dewey's account:

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According to Dewey (1910:1933) reflective thinking is the basis of deliberative thought. In his perspective disciplined deliberative thinking is seen as a basis for citizenship and personal progress (Roberts: 1998). Moreover, in order to reflect effectively, teachers should develop particular skills, for instance, observation and reasoning and should possess some sort of qualities such as, responsibility, open - minded and wholeheartedness ( Griffiths:2000). But, it is noted that there is a shortcoming with this account in that his idea of teaching as routine action is unjustified because as Furlong and Maynard (1995:45) considered it "is an over-simplification and does not capture the multi-facetedness ,unpredictability and sheer complexity of teaching" (Furlong and Maynard:1995 cited in Griffiths:2000).

The principles based on Schön's account:

Wallace's reflective model:

The principles of reflective approach in Wallace's reflective model emphasis that there are two important types of knowledge which should be included in teacher education courses comprised: First, received knowledge and second, experiential knowledge. The first refers to all concepts, skills and theories that trainees received through their academic study or from other sources such as, reading books. The second refers to the knowledge based on trainees' past experience in their teaching practice (Wallace: 1991). Wallace's model, however, is separated into three stages as follows:

The pr- training stage.

The professional education/development stage.

The professional competence stage.

It is demonstrated in figure (4.1) below.

To put it more simple, in the first stage there is believe that teachers trainees who engaged in professional education do not come with blank minds. In other words, they have already the idea of good and bad teacher that is to say, what Wallace refers to "trainee's existing conceptual schemata or mental constructs" (Wallace: 49:1991). In the second stage, the professional development is achieved by theory and practice that is what he refers to as a cyclical process. In other words, the received knowledge and the experiential knowledge are integrated together. To illustrate, once students teachers engaged into classroom environment, they have the ability to discover a real framework of teaching and have awareness of the differences of classroom situations. Accordingly, their performance will be recalled during their teaching practice. For example, they will ask questions such as, how could some experienced teachers tackle with those situations and how they themselves can deal with them. Thus, they can evaluate their professional performance by reflecting upon their classroom activities. As a result, the positive and negative sides of their teaching strategy will be discovered. Hence, they will be professional educators and have the professional competence which is the aim of the third stage (ibid).

Although, Wallace's reflective model can be applied in both pre-service and in-service education, yet from the principles drew above. It is noted that there are some limitations, because there is an important question should be asked here, is the experience shared among teachers because it seems to be private. Another limitation lies in participant's school culture might not encourage reflection.