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The responsibility of uncertainty is uncomfortable, until the excitement ofdiscovery takes hold. Students and supervisees often initially express the non-developmental attitude of wishing tutors to take responsibility. Anyone who70REFLECTION AND REFLEXIVITY: WHAT AND WHY
THROUGH THE MIRROR71thinks they know the right answers all the time is bound to be wrong. Topeople willing to ‘not know’ all the time, all sorts of things are possible.Serious playfulness: a playful attitude, and willingness to experiment andadventure, makes uncertainty a positive force. Looking for something withoutknowing what it is uncovers pertinent questions. An adventurous spirit leadsto that trackless moorland which education has come to be, rather than awalled or hedged field (Usher et al. 1997, p. 3). Anything and everything isquestioned, leaving no room for self-importance. There is, however, only somuch we can do to alter our own situation, that of others, and the widerpolitical one: we recognise our power isunlimitedly limited. This playfulnessis essentially serious. It can only take place within a safe enough educationalenvironment in which people can feel confident to take risks.Unquestioning questioning: we accept, unquestioningly, the questioningspirit. Questions determine directions across the moorland, and thereforewhat might be discovered along the way. These findings beget morequestions. We ‘risk abandoning previous “truths” and sit withnot knowing’(Gerber 1994, p. 290). Thisnon-judgemental criticalprocess is active andenquiring, rather like the small child’s iconoclastic eternalWhy?Paradoxically, the way to find out about ourselves is through letting go ofourselves: of everyday assumptions about who we are, in order to be open tothe discovery of other possible selves. I discover the myselves of whom I amnot habitually aware, the myself I might be, and the selves I am becoming,joining up the dots between these selves (Watson 2006). Only when ‘the cupis empty’ can anyone receive, hear what is being said, perceive what ishappening. Providing students with frameworks to work within might lessentutor anxiety, but such programming disables students from thinking andexploring for themselves. Research by Baernstein and Fryer-Edwards (2003)showed critical incident reports (CIRs) to be less effective than reflectiveinterviews without writing. This is hardly surprising as CIRs would have beensimple responses to guiding questions. Reflective and reflexive beginnerssuch as undergraduates and postgraduates are wonderfully flexible andadventurous if well facilitated. Formalised structure takes the place ofexperienced knowledgeable facilitation of beginners (Bulman and Schutz2008). Senior practitioners are more likely to have blocks, having more intheir cups to empty before they start.