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Reflection, reflexivity and critical reflection

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James Thomas

on 21 February 2013

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Transcript of Reflection, reflexivity and critical reflection

The 3 R's What is reflection,
critical reflection and reflexivity? Critical Reflection Reflexivity Problems? What are they and how do they differ? How are these concepts
relevant to social work practice? Reflection/Reflective Practice Reflection is a process of thinking, of comparing and verifying for the purpose of learning about and improving practice, developing practice based theory, connecting theory to practice, and improving and changing practice” (Kessl, 2009, p. 312) Difficult to Define Term used interchangeably (D'Cruz, et al., 2007, p. 87) So what is 'critical' about critical reflection It is particularly used interchangeably with reflection
and critical reflection; but its different Post-structuralist critique can be turned on
these concepts with withering clarity Are they relevant to social work practice? Lack of clarity (Kessl, 2009, p. 305) Reflection, reflexivity and critical reflection are not unequivocal concepts (Brookfield, 2009) Depending on the perspective one works within, critical reflection can be understood to mean very different, sometimes antithetical, things. So, we must not view critical reflection as an unequivocal concept” (Brookfield, 2009, p. 297) “although reflective practice has become a key paradigm in social work and the subject of extensive theorising and philosophical debate, the ideas and practices associated with its application are not well defined operationally” (Wilson, 2013, p. 155) Reflection is a process focused on changing and improving practice Fook, et al., 2006 amalgamate differing perspectives
to define the process of reflective practice Critical reflection "lays bare the historically and socially sedimented values at work in the construction of knowledge, social relations, and material practices . . . it situates critique within a radical notion of interest and social transformation" (Giroux, 1983, pp. 154-155) It is concerned with exposing and challenging discourses, narratives and discursive practices at play within our society “Reflexivity can simply be defined as an ability to recognise our own influence – and the influence of our social and cultural contexts on research, the type of knowledge we create, and the way we create it” (Fook & Askland, 2006, p. 45) What problems do these concepts cause to
social work? It is often defined as a "personal attitude on the basis of the ability to take account of the issues and practices which constitute social work" (Kessl, 2009, p. 312) They are the key to ensuring that students are prepared to address the complexities, uncertainties and challenges encountered in social work (Wilson, 2013, p. 155) They enable a social worker to improve their own practice; and achieve social transformation, emancipatory change and social justice (see Kessl, 2009; and Morley, 2012) "To pass as a social worker is to demonstrate that one understands how to speak and write about one’s practice in a convincing and authoritative way that also tunes into particular preoccupations with ethical issues and dilemmas. It will involve a selection and ordering of the ‘facts’ and the creation of a particular version whilst suppressing or concealing other possible versions" (Taylor, 2006, p. 203) Limitations of critiques built upon post-structuralism Post-structuralist methodologies cannot aim to achieve a superior social structure, or replace one truth with another. Any claims to do so are counter-intuitive and conceptually flawed (Garrity, 2010, pp. 207-8) "reflexivity requires critical reflection and reflective practices on the part of the professional social worker, but it also entails a more general orientation on the part of the social worker to the role and responsibilities of the profession as a whole on contemporary societies"(Kessl, 2009, p. 306) However, there are other interpretations of critical
reflection (see Ruch, 2009) 1. A process (cognitive, emotional, experiential) of examining assumptions (of many different types and levels) embedded in actions or experience;
2. A linking of these assumptions with many different origins (personal, emotional, social, cultural, historical, political);
3. A review and re-evaluation of these according to relevant (depending on context, purpose, etc.) criteria;
4. A reworking of concepts and practice based on this re-evaluation; (Fook, et al., 2006, p. 12) “Reflection focuses on uncovering assumptions, the conceptual glue that holds our perspectives, meaning schemes and habits of mind in place…critical reflection involves us recognising and researching the assumptions that undergird our thoughts and actions within relationships, at work, in community involvements, in vocational pursuits and as citizens” (Brookfield, 2009, pp. 294-5)
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