chapter  11
Learning to play hide-and-seek with pink elephants
Pages 14

Adult learning is sometimes more complex and uncomfortable than the learning experiences of childhood. Critical reflection as a learning mode has provided me with a tool that can find a way through unhelpful constraints regarding personal practices and assumed theories about life, work and people; it sustains my work as a manager and provides encouragement. In this chapter I will show how it has assisted my learning and influenced

my continued integration of management practices, theory and values. My journey began through a Master’s research thesis (Hearne, 2007) which utilised critical reflection as described by Fook and Gardner (2007). Their framework assisted me to identify my own hidden assumptions that were influencing my theory of management and, in turn, affected my management practices. The deconstruction of critical incidents revealed themes in terms of my

theoretical construction of power and its operations which limited my options for practice, particularly where anxiety was underlying conflict. In reconstructing my ideas, I opened up new possibilities for practice and a way to use critical reflection with my colleagues. In essence, this has led to a process of emancipation, a freeing up of me in my role, and an increased understanding of the experience of change and my own and my colleagues’ experience of anxiety at work. This, in turn, has led to an understanding of the constraining force that anxiety has on learning when managing complex organisational environments.