Reflection on “Becoming Critically Reflective.”
Stephen D. Brookfield, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995.
This chapter discussed how to become more critically reflective and how being more critically reflective can change someone as a teacher. The author looked at four ways of becoming more critically reflective: reflecting on our “autobiographies” as teachers and learners; gathering input from students; discussions with colleagues; and reading theoretical literature on teaching and higher education. What struck me about this aspect of the reading were the limitations of each option. For example, it’s always difficult to examine your own practices because of your own assumptions and biases, students might be afraid to really say what they feel (and I would add that on teacher examinations students will often mail it in by choosing the median answer on each question, for example the teacher was “pretty good” or “good” on each topic), and when discussing teaching with other colleagues the author points out that we’ll often seek out like-minded colleagues. I think the author’s point to some extent is that because of these limitations it’s best to use a variety of methods in order to become more reflective.
The author also points out some of the consequences and advantages of being more critically reflective, some of which resonated more with me than others. For example, the author points out that more critically reflective teachers will be more likely to try to build a more “democratic” classroom experience, but I didn’t always see the connection. I think many teachers would like to build a more democratic classroom experience (we definitely don’t want to just be talking to a group of bored, unresponsive freshman English comp students), but I thought the author could have gone into the relationship between the two a bit more. What resonated the most to me was that more critically reflective teachers will be more likely to not see themselves as the finished product, so to speak. If you are constantly trying to examine yourself, your methods, assumptions, etc., then you will probably be more likely to evolve and grow as a teacher.