The responsibility of uncertainty is uncomfortable until the excitement of

The responsibility of uncertainty is uncomfortable

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The responsibility of uncertainty is uncomfortable, until the excitement of discovery takes hold. Students and supervisees often initially express the non- developmental attitude of wishing tutors to take responsibility. Anyone who 70 REFLECTION AND REFLEXIVITY: WHAT AND WHY
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THROUGH THE MIRROR 71 thinks they know the right answers all the time is bound to be wrong. To people willing to ‘not know’ all the time, all sorts of things are possible. Serious playfulness : a playful attitude, and willingness to experiment and adventure, makes uncertainty a positive force. Looking for something without knowing what it is uncovers pertinent questions. An adventurous spirit leads to that trackless moorland which education has come to be, rather than a walled or hedged field (Usher et al. 1997, p. 3). Anything and everything is questioned, leaving no room for self-importance. There is, however, only so much we can do to alter our own situation, that of others, and the wider political one: we recognise our power is unlimitedly limited . This playfulness is essentially serious. It can only take place within a safe enough educational environment in which people can feel confident to take risks. Unquestioning questioning : we accept, unquestioningly, the questioning spirit. Questions determine directions across the moorland, and therefore what might be discovered along the way. These findings beget more questions. We ‘risk abandoning previous “truths” and sit with not knowing (Gerber 1994, p. 290). This non-judgemental critical process is active and enquiring, rather like the small child’s iconoclastic eternal Why ? Paradoxically, the way to find out about ourselves is through letting go of ourselves: of everyday assumptions about who we are, in order to be open to the discovery of other possible selves. I discover the myselves of whom I am not 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 cup is empty’ can anyone receive, hear what is being said, perceive what is happening. Providing students with frameworks to work within might lessen tutor anxiety, but such programming disables students from thinking and exploring for themselves. Research by Baernstein and Fryer-Edwards (2003) showed critical incident reports (CIRs) to be less effective than reflective interviews without writing. This is hardly surprising as CIRs would have been simple responses to guiding questions. Reflective and reflexive beginners such as undergraduates and postgraduates are wonderfully flexible and adventurous if well facilitated. Formalised structure takes the place of experienced knowledgeable facilitation of beginners (Bulman and Schutz 2008). Senior practitioners are more likely to have blocks, having more in their cups to empty before they start.
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  • Winter '16
  • Writing, reflective practice

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