Using dilemmas as a lens for reflection

Year: 1994

Author: Groundwater-Smith, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The opening paper will define the metaphors "dilemmas" and "paradoxes" and provide examples from current education discourses regarding their use. The paper will discuss ways in which the metaphors have assisted in the shaping of the introductory practicum curriculum course in a newly developed Bachelor of Teaching. The decision has been taken to recognise, early in the degree program, the complexity of school education. The notion of complexity is embodied in a dilemmas framework. Using the work of Berlak and Berlak which characterises dilemmas as falling into three sets: control set, societal set and curriculum set, it is argued that the varying roles and perspectives of the many stakeholders in education produce a complex web of tensions. To better understand these dynamics, it is asserted that personal ideologies must first be addressed and problematised. The practicum curriculum, including the field experience, is built upon concepts of reflection and reflexivity.

The paper outlines the notion of education as a moral social practice which is produced through a number of discursive formations. It argues that there is a significant power in utilising the dilemmas framework as a means of interrupting the conventional socialisation of those intending to become teachers.