Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.
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.