Reflection and CHAT

From: Lampert-Shepel, Elina (
Date: Sat Mar 20 2004 - 21:25:01 PST

Dear Carol et al,

I’ve been following the discussion with a great interest, and enjoying the food for thought being served for breakfast as much as for dinner…J I wasn’t even counting the calories…J One of the major reasons is that I am on the verge of defending my proposal for the doctoral cross-cultural qualitative study on teachers’ reflective actions in Dewey schools, one in Russia and one in the United States. I do not address the relationship between reflection and the process of change (in the self of a teacher? In the community? etc.) directly, but more interested in the demystification of the process of reflection as a higher mental function and documentation of toolkit of mediational means teachers use in their reflective process.

I believe that CHAT and especially Learning Activity Theory can be a powerful theoretical framework in the study on reflection in teacher education as it provides the grounds to study reflection as action in teachers’ professional Learning Activity. Here some of my initial ideas on the subject of discussion:

Ø It seems to me that the term reflection has lost its meaning in teacher education literature. The words reflection, reflectivity, reflexivity has been used interchangeably, though they come from different philosophies and focus on different issues. I consider reflection as a dialectical, socially constructed and culturally mediated metacognitive activity of meaning making through a continuous exploration of the experience by the agent of the action. As far as I know, there were initial studies on reflection as a higher mental function done by Zak and Boris Elkonin, but both were done with children .

Ø My previous studies with Vygotskian teachers in Russia, Piagetian teachers in England and teachers in US Dewey schools (Tanner, 1997) made me interested in how mediateional meand of reflective action changed the discourse and the meaning of reflection. If the argument is toward conceptualization of practice, buiding theory of practice, then, it seems to me that the conscious choice of meadiational means and understanding the difference of reflective process when using metaphor vs narrative vs symbol, etc. can be very handy. I think that mediational means of reflection are multiple and they are inherently situated culturally, institutionally, and historically; they can be construed as the carriers of social, historical, and cultural transformations. Mediational means serve to transform the flow of the reflective action, changing too, the action itself and participants’ interactions.

Ø Here are some of my references on the subject...

Lampert -Shepel, E. (1999) Reflective thinking in educational praxis: analysis of multiple perspectives. Educational Foundations, 13(3), 69-88

Lampert-Shepel, E. (1995). Teacher self-identification in culture from Vygotsky’s developmental perspective. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 26.

Here are some ideas before the sleep…J

What do you think?



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