Re: Reflection and change in a CHAT/Cultural Psychology paradigm

From: Kevin Rocap (
Date: Sun Mar 21 2004 - 22:17:15 PST

Dear Eugene,

Thanks for your comment, and to elaborate briefly:.

I've seen this happen a lot in the arena of bilngual education when teachers not well-versed in theories and practices of language acquisition and development, or in theories and practices of multicultural education engage in reflection on their own practices using their own current repertoire of conceptual tools (that don't include those I've mentioned above).  I've seen that teacher-groups in such a situation pretty roundly end up re-affirming and building off of what I would say are fairly misinformed biases and/or misconceptions and often come to some dubious conclusions and ideas about how their practices should change (which often fly in the face of respectable practice-based research in the field).  So they may very well change, but in the wrong direction (like determining that students just need a lot more English instruction, of a certain variety, rather than thinking about the effective design of a quality cross-cultural, bilingual program).

I think this occurs because people are often taught that they can reflect on their own practices without necessarily examining the conceptual tools they are employing within that reflection process.  "Reflection" somehow seems to have a widespread connotation of being an ahistorical or "natural" process, that is not theory-driven or theory-laden.  It is first "descriptive" (as though descriptions are not based on the application of theories and lenses) and then a process of developing opinions or hypotheses in dialogue with one's peers (without formally or systematically necessitating the consideration of diverse external perspectives, outside experts or theoretical/practical issues from relevant research - if one can even determine on one's own or within one's peer group what the appropriate, relevant research might be, hence the need for critical friends, imho).

In some ways I think part of the romance of "reflection" is that it is empowering BECAUSE it validates one's ability to just engage in some pure relation with one's own practices and to develop and test one's own theories without a lot of external critical inquiry or external validation for one's perspectives.  I've actually seen communities of reflective practice or reflective inquiry use their status as a reflective community as a guard against the need to invite or rely upon external experts or concepts (a kind of "no one knows my practices better than I do" stance).

So, as others have said, these may be specifically situated notions of what constitutes "a process of reflection" that differ from those experienced or promoted by others in this discussion.

In Peace,

Eugene Matusov wrote:

Dear Kevin-

I agree with you a lot!


-----Original Message-----
From: Kevin Rocap []
Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2004 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: Reflection and change in a CHAT/Cultural Psychology paradigm

Dear friends,

A reflection on reflection...

Carol Macdonald wrote:

What are we all referring to when labeling something as reflective? Is
it just metacognition?

[Carol Macdonald] Yes it is, but in the research, the reflective practice
passes from the researcher into the teacher, in a way which would make

Perhaps, but I think the caveats of a "reflective practitioner" approach
apply - that is, that an individual or a group that lacks external
theoretical, conceptual and/or alternative practices inputs and a
process of critical inquiry (including critical friends) to go along
with a process of "reflection" runs the risk of merely engaging in
self-fulfilling prophesies and a self-affirming of inadequate practices
(by reinforcing inaccurate or at least inappropriate notions), no?

In Peace,


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