Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates

Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.

Freedom to reflect


We educators are experts on play.  We have studied play.  We have repertoires of ideas.  We foster play in our work every day.  So we understand that play requires freedom.  We know the defining quality of play is that it is freely chosen.

As educators we are now explicitly required to be reflective practitioners. Personally, I think this is a good thing.  I am always in favour of thinking. However, I have detected a tendency for people to think reflection is something that can be structured and directed and done to a recipe.  This is the wrong way to think about reflection.  You can’t say ‘you will reflect on this question from 5 past 2 on Tuesday for 15 minutes’ and expect anything meaningful to come out of it. 

Reflection is a form of play for the mind.  It involves exploration.  It involves following the thinking whereever it goes.  It involves opening up to new possibilities.  It involves letting go of habits and predetermined ideas for long enough to let new thinking get in.  

Like play, reflection needs the right conditions. And those conditions include freedom. 

Reflection needs time.  It needs calm.  It needs the right mood. We have to enter into a different headspace.  Being in a special physical-space or time-space can help with that.  Setting boundaries can help; making a time when pressing daily concerns are switched off.  But above all, the thing that reflection really needs is freedom: freedom to be done in its own way; when the mood is right; when inspiration strikes.

For all those educational leaders out there wondering how they ‘get’ their colleagues to reflect: the answer is not a list of questions to pose at predetermined intervals. A well judged question can help get people thinking, and suggest directions for thinking. But it cannot produce reflection on demand.

Don’t be asking yourself when they should reflect and what they should reflect on.  Ask yourself what you can do to help them find the freedom for reflection.


© Grainne O’Malley 2014

Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates. Refuse, Resist, Rebuild.


One comment on “Freedom to reflect

  1. greenvolcanolady
    March 6, 2014

    Conversation on the way home from after school care last night. I hate after school care. they keep asking me these dumb questions about the weekend and stuff. I don’t know! – Ashley
    Yeah! They kept asking me as well. Like how did I fall over and what I did today. Helen (younger sister)
    Mum quietly laughing in front seat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: