Peering into the mirror: wiping away preconceived notions in early childhood services through reflective practice

Year: 2013

Author: De Gioia, Katey, Highfield, Kate

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

When getting dressed in the morning, it is easy to take a quick look in the mirror with a preconceived idea about how we look and then move through the day. However, this presentation invites participants to take time and look closely, to peer and move beyond the superficial glance to really connect, question and reflect. In early childhood education there is an underlying assumption that critical reflection and reflective practice is beneficial. The notion that through reflection we are “unearthing deeper assumptions” (Hickson, 2011, p. 831) and through critical reflection we’re “closely examining all aspects of events and experiences from different perspectives” (DEEWR, 2009 p.13). Whilst the seminal work of Schön (1994) provides two perspectives on reflection- reflection in action and reflection on action we often find that there is difficulty moving beyond reflection in action to truly connect to the multiple perspectives which need consideration. For pre service student teachers this is equally challenging as they are faced with perspectives different to those which are part of who they are and from what they have learnt at university.

This paper shares the reflections of two researchers who were both participating in separate research projects in early childhood services across New South Wales. The services catered to families and children from Indigenous and migrant backgrounds. Each researcher had worked with these communities before but were surprised by their bias and perceptions of expected practice. Brave conversations; a tilt of the mirror upwards, enabled them open up about their own assumptions first and foremost which, on reflection, were not what they perceived they had believed.

In presenting implications for practice, this presentation challenges participants to dwell in front of the mirror – adjust the light and wipe away the steam. Take a moment to refocus and reflect on action. It shares perspectives of educators and pre service student teachers to promote purposeful reflections which move beyond the cursory glance in the mirror.

Australian Government Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Governments (DEEWR). (2009). Belonging, being & becoming: the early years learning framework for Australia.   Retrieved 23 September 2009, from

Hickson, H. (2011). Critical reflection: Reflecting on learning to be reflective. Reflective Practice, 12(6): 829–839.

Schön, D. (1994). Teaching artistry through reflection-in-action. In Tsoukas, H. New thinking in organizational behaviour, p. 235–249. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.