chapter  1
Critical reflection in context: contemporary perspectives and issues
ByJAN FOOK
Pages 12

The idea that some form of reflection is seen as a necessary ingredient of professional practice is quite familiar (Polkinghorne, 2004). This idea is supported in a range of professions and disciplines (Fook et al., 2006). Yet there are several aspects to this which still remain relatively unclear and are therefore problematic for any attempts to introduce, and sustain, reflection in particular settings. Foremost amongst these problems is the question of exactly what form

the reflection takes. What approach and theoretical underpinning to reflection is being applied, and exactly how, in concrete terms, is this being practised? How does a worker or student demonstrate that they are reflective? Is reflection the same as reflective practice, and how does being ‘critical’ fit with these ideas? Is critical reflection the same as reflective practice or critical thinking, and does it matter? The second problem is the challenge of changing contexts. Whilst there

are undoubtedly more calls for critical reflection (Munro, 2011), economic constraints in many countries mean that workplace environments are more risk aversive and therefore often less willing to support workers to engage in reflective activities which might potentially undermine organisational goals. In addition, workplace ‘tick-box’ cultures can work against developing more amorphous reflective cultures, and simply finding the time to reflect becomes problematic with increased workloads. Lastly, whilst critical reflection has been well developed for individual

learning, especially in educational settings, much less is known about how it can be managed and sustained in particular organisational settings (Boud et al., 2006). What practical, ethical and organisational issues are involved in introducing and sustaining the practice and culture of critical reflection in particular contexts? In short, how do we ‘organise’ reflection? (Reynolds and Vince, 2004). For some years, my colleague Fiona Gardner and I have worked with

introducing, developing and teaching a particular model of critical reflection which is primarily group-based and can be modified for use in various settings. Different individuals and groups around the world have worked with us and

presenting their experiences and perspectives. This book has three main aims:

to showcase concrete ways of working with this critical reflection model in different settings, in order to contribute to continued improvement and application of the model;

to illustrate concrete examples of the model’s application, to assist professionals to apply it within their own context/organisation;

to further conceptualise and develop the theory of critical reflection, through an explication of its practical application in a range of settings.