Exploring Eastern philosophy as a means of understanding reflection

Year: 1994

Author: Sumsion, Jennifer

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In recent years there has been considerable interest in the role of reflection in professional development. This interest has been particularly evident amongst teacher educators as they seek more effective ways of preparing student teachers for the complexities of teaching. Despite the proliferation of literature about reflection and reflective practices, however, there remains much about reflection which is not understood. There is little agreement, for example, about what reflection is, or how it might be identified or promoted. Continuing uncertainty about such essential issues suggests that research into reflection has reached an impasse.

To overcome this impasse, it may be necessary to move beyond the confines of the cultural, conceptual and methodological perspectives which have characterised much of the research into reflection to date. This paper is a response to Yinger's (1990) suggestion that an understanding of Eastern philosophical traditions may enrich our understanding of reflection. The paper explores Eastern perceptions of self, knowledge, and knowing, and considers their relevance to reflection in contemporary Western contexts. The possibility of incorporating awareness of aspects of Eastern perspectives into a longitudinal study focusing on the development of reflection in student teachers will be discussed.