Notes on current readings: The Reflective Practitioner and An Urgency of Teachers

I am currently re-reading Donald Schon’s classic The Reflective Practitioner – How Professionals Think in Action (1983) along with An Urgency of Teachers – The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogya 2018 compilation of the essays and articles of Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel.

This was not an intentional pairing. I started Reflective Practitioner and then downloaded An Urgency of Teachers when it was released, as I admire and am inspired by the work of Morris and Stommel.

I am still reading both books. But for what it’s worth, I’m sharing a couple of snippets from the each. These are half-baked dots that may later be connected – themes of reflection, critical thinking, disciplinary “problem setting,” experimentation and change.

The Reflective Practitioner

“Let us consider, then, how the crisis of confidence in the professions has been interpreted by professionals who have given serious thought in their own fields to the adequacy of professional knowledge. On the whole, their assessment is that professional knowledge is mismatched to the changing character of the situations of practice – the complexity, uncertainty, instability, uniqueness, and value conflicts which are increasingly perceived as central to the world of professional practice…” – Schon, The Crisis of Confidence of Professional Knowledge, Chapter 1, p 14  

“From the perspective of Technical Rationality, professional practice is a process of problem solving. Problems of choice or decision are solved through the selection, from available means, of the one best suited to established ends. But with this emphasis on problem solving, we ignore problem setting, the process by which we define the decision to be made, the ends to be achieved, the means which may be chosen…When we set the problem, we select what we will treat as the “things” of the situation, we set the boundaries of our attention to it, and we impose upon it a coherence which allows us to say what is wrong and in what directions the situation needs to be changed. Problem setting is a process in which, interactively, we name the things to which we will attend and frame the context in which we will attend to them.  – Schon, Chapter 2 From Technical Rationality to Reflection-in-Action, p 40

“…inquiry, however it may initially have been conceived, turns into a frame experiment. What allows this to happen is that the inquirer is willing to step into the problematic situation, to impose a frame on it, to follow the implications of the discipline thus established, and yet to remain open to the situation’s back-talk.”  This is a “reflective conversation with the situation.” – Schon, Patterns and Limits of Reflection-in-Action Across Professions, Chapter 9, p 269

“What is it, then, that is distinctive about the experimenting that goes on in practice? The practice context is different from the research context in several important ways, all of which have to do with the relationship between changing things and understanding them. The practitioner has an interest in transforming the situation from what it is to something he likes better. He also has an interest in understanding the situation, but it is in the service of his interest in change. – Schon, The Structure of Reflection-in-Action, Chapter 5 p 147

An Urgency of Teachers

“Pedagogy is essentially a critical thinking exercise directed at learning and teaching. Pedagogy asks us to never teach by rote: never assume the use of a podium, or an overhead projector, or desks situated in rows, or a chalkboard, or walls. Teaching should be a determined thing, an intentional thing; and every exercise we design, every component of the LMS we engage, every grade we assign should reflect our intentions. And more than that, our philosophies. – Sean Michael Morris, What is a Pedagogue? 

“…Critical Digital Pedagogy:

  • centers its practice on community and collaboration;
  • must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries;
  • will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather together a cacophony of voices;
  • must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education.”

–  Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel, Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Definition

“Community and dialogue shouldn’t be an accident or by-product of a course. They should be the course.” – Jesse Stommel Online Learning: a Manifesto

“…the collaborative poetry exercise Jesse and I have run, in which 50 participants in a Google Doc collaborate over 30 minutes and only contribute a single word. Participants ultimately remixed the rules, contributing videos, images, and writing poetry within the rules themselves. When I showed a video of this exercise to a friend of mine — a traditional, on-ground poetry teacher at a public 4-year institution — he stared at me and then he asked, ‘Why?’ My answer: ‘To see what would happen.’ ” – Sean Michael Morris, Teaching in Our Right Minds: Critical Digital Pedagogy and the Response to the New

“Just as the imagination enables us to believe things can be changed, so it is hope that drives us to change them. ‘Without a minimum of hope,’ Freire writes, ‘we cannot so much as start the struggle.’ Change is predicated on hope; hope is predicated on imagination. Criticality is not enough…Simply put: critical understanding + imagination + hope is the only recipe for meaningful change. If we don’t make imagination available in our classrooms, neither do we make hope available.”  – Sean Michael Morris, Adventures in Unveiling: Critical Pedagogy and Imagination