Literature review on Critical and Reflective learning

The following literature review will concentrate on the concept of critical and reflective learning. Critical and reflective learning is utilized around the world in various academics corporations and in professional practice. First of all it would be imperative that critical representation is defined. Pursuing on out of this a dialogue shall take place around the various frameworks and theories offered by various theorists on the subject. Finally a crucial overview of the underlying thinking which underlies a lot of the policy making process in Ireland will be starting.

There are various meanings used to clarify the process of critical reflection. At an extremely basic level, critical reflection (CR) occurs when and specific questions either their own ideas or the ideas of another. However as Van Woerkom (2010) advises there are many different academic institutions of thought on what's involved in the critical reflection process. Including the ideological form of critical representation would give attention to challenging and questioning dominant or unjust ideologies. The psychoanalytical institution of CR is targeted more on the average person and includes the reframing of personal problems or issues. The analytical model of CR is the process of emotionally analysing quarrels in the wish of guiding ones values or activities. Finally the pragmatist constructivism university of CR pertains to the evaluation of various kinds of information in an attempt to give a solution, while at the same time recognising that the perfect solution is itself is available to further questioning (Vehicle Woerkom, 2010). What seems apparent from these meanings is the fact that the questioning and representation of a identified actuality at both a societal and personal level are key in each process. Furthermore it seems apparent that the issues that each institution is dealing with can all impact upon one another. For instance it could be argued that the internal wellbeing of an individual could be greatly influenced by the prominent ideology within the society. Dealing with only the emotional issues with the psychoanalytical strategy may show fruitless, if societal affects causing psychological stress are not resolved. Various theorists have dissected the critical reflection process on the much deeper level.

Dewey in ((1933, in Boud et al, 1994)shows that reflection is the procedure of an individual recapturing their experience, thinking about it and examining it. He believed that reflection was initiated by an inner uneasiness induced by a person becoming disillusioned with the current reality. Reflection may also be instigated with a positive experience. The individual may wish to learn what worked in the positive experience, in order to replicate the behavior that caused the positive experience. Dewey's main concentration was centred on the notion that representation is a highly rational exercise which is based in an proof based strategy which focused on skills and attitudes. However as various authors suggest Dewey's focus on skills and attitudes is bound and does not enable the affective (emotional) component mixed up in learning process ( Boud et al, 1994, Rawson, 2000). Another limiting aspect of Dewey's theory was the presumption that one would first have to make a mistake in order to learn from it.

Kolb & Fry (1975) presumed that for effective learning to happen the learner would have to complete a pattern of learning, broken down into four periods: Concrete experience, observation and reflection, forming abstract ideas, tests them in new situations. Essentially, an individual begins the training process by becoming involved with a fresh experience, which they then reflect upon internally to make sense of the knowledge. The average person then hypothesises about different theories and then can be applied such ideas in new situations. It ought to be noted that an individual may begin in any level and change between these stages. And several learners may only use two of the periods, depending after their learning style (Kolb & Fry 1975 ).

Donald Schon (1995) has generated upon Deweys concept by introducing the idea of dual looped learning. He recommended that the majority of learning in everyday life occurred at a rate where individuals used past held ideals and assumptions to inform their present action (solitary looped learning). However Increase Looped learning entails a deeper degree of representation where individuals question these ideals and assumptions and subject those to critical analysis. . Agryis (1999) uses an analogy of what sort of thermostat responds to room temps by turning on heat if the area gets to cold and turning it off when it gets to warm. The thermostat responds by acquiring signals from the area temps. He contended that equated to a human being acquiring positive or negative impulses about their activities and then changing their actions (Solo loop learning). Heading back to the thermostat analogy, two times looped learning would ask the question, why the room acquired too hot or frosty in the first place. The same goes for humans when they question the primary assumptions which informed their actions in the first place. Such learning is not limited by the individual and such learning could be applied to organisations and contemporary society (Agryis, 1999),

However as Rawson (2000) implies, many institutions seem to be to take care of intellect as total and don't allow for the questioning necessary in the critical reflection process. He goes on to suggest that modern culture works on a basis of experiencing power over, somewhat than electric power with. He presumed that this approach was evident in many educational organizations. He advocates the idea of understanding how to learn where in fact the relevance of various aspects of knowledge continued to be questioned and challenged. Rawson argues that knowledge is not a last product and contends that this is and understanding process is more important than the end product. His research is closely associated with the teachings of Paulo Friere.

Friere's (1998) CR theory was rooted firmly in the ideological school of thought. He believed the educational system served to replicate the position quo that was inspired by the dominating ideological discourse. He was of the thoughts and opinions that educators should challenge the status quo through challenging students to question the dominant discourse, which he believed served to reproduce inequalities. He stressed the value of dialogue within the education system, as he assumed without dialogue; true education could not take place. Hooks (1994) catches the idea of education without dialogue when she talks of her experience as an undergraduate and graduate college student. She suggests that the majority of lecturers used the school room as an avenue to exert their view of the world upon students. Friere (1998) did not advocate a non directive method of education, however he performed stress it should be the process and not the student that needs to be aimed. Friere (1998) recognized that each scholar had their own unique life experience and contended that the students experience was priceless in the learning experience. Very in essence Friere (1998) was of the opinion that education was more about permitting students to question and struggle the commonly placed knowledge within society. Meizrow (1994) also spoke about representation in terms of transformation.

Mezirow (1994) described reflective learning as a process where the learner has to consider or reconsider certain assumptions they could carry about themselves or the world. He argued that the very best reflection took place when the learner discovers their assumptions to be in some way weakened. It triggers the learner to check out reasons why their assumptions have triggered them to reach decisions or to react in a certain way also to maybe re-evaluate their assumptions. He described that when the learner accepts that their previous assumptions might have been incorrect they have got created a 'transformative space' and within that space they can be open to engaging in new-found knowledge. This, he believes, can result in a deeper level of reflective practice. As mentioned earlier feelings can play an important part in that process

Boud et al (1994) claim that past experiences can greatly determine a person's ability to learn in new situations. If learning was only centred in the copy of knowledge in one individual to another, learning would be a smooth incident and each individual would ingest knowledge with reduced difficulty. However feelings such as anxiety can cause difficulties for individuals who are taking part in new learning activities. Nearly all individuals will experience anxieties when confronted with new learning. However for some the nervousness can be mind-boggling and deeply affect the learning process. Just how individuals learn is greatly affected by emotion (Boud et al, 1994).

In conclusion it could be seen that there are many regions of both personal and societal life that could take advantage of the process of critical reflection. The whole notion of understanding how to learn appears to be an approach which encourages indie and self-directed learning. While there are many colleges of thought on the process of CR, they all seem be fond of questioning the underlying assumptions and discourses which advise both individual and societal actions. It seems evident from the many readings that critical reflection is often frowned after as something which upsets the status quo of organisations.


The subject matter that I have chosen to think about is the way the Irish society remains to apply previous answers to present problems. If we look to the recent recession it is clear that the Irish authorities continue steadily to take the approach of promoting competition and neo liberal policies as a remedy to the present economic conditions. As Coulter & Coleman (2003) argue the prominent discourse in Irish world advises that the current economic climate is the device which will bring about the greatest best for everyone worried. They contend that such a discourse is designed by everyone within culture. Some discourses are so dominant that they almost seem to be natural and many fail to question them. If we look to the Celtic Tiger in Ireland, there have been various commentators recommending that the united states was in danger of a significant financial and economical crisis. Back 2007 Bertie Ahern famously made the remark, that those who had been moaning and cribbing about how precisely the economy was being run should commit suicide (Stafford, 2010). The moaners and cribbers he was referring too were economists who had been alert about the market not being secure and the future crash of the market. Even though these economists were accurate in their predictions nearly all Irish culture sided with Bertie Ahern. As Friere (1998) advises, the need to question dominating knowledge is crucial, yet, in the Irish circumstance when the dominating knowledge was questioned the individuals were ridiculed. This fundamental aspect of Irish society needs to change.

Even in today's recession the government continues to suggest that the only path recover from the monetary downturn is to stay competitive in the global world. The dominant thinking included here is merely returning to the dominant thinking of the past which implies the economy will correct all the ills of the united states. Even the European union/IMF bailout underwent very little critical analysis. Precisely the same commentators who were alert of the economic crisis during the Celtic Tiger collapse were all recommending that there have been alternatives that could have being taking. However similar to the Celtic Tiger era, the government chose to follow a path without taking into consideration the long-term consequences. As Storey (2010) argues IMF bailouts in other countries have had disastrous results for those countries. Naturally these bailouts seem to be to be extremely undemocratic. For example the IMF (an unelected external body) has a major impact on the development and implementation of national insurance plan. There is no referendum upon this bailout and the general Irish public got very little say on set up bailout was requested. The existence of undemocratic guideline appeared to be evident in Ireland a number of years prior to the IMF arrived in town. For instance the first referendum on the Lisbon Treaty was rejected by the Irish people, however the Irish government organised a second referendum requesting the question in a different way. Compared to other countries there is very little protest in relation to the bailout or austerity measures that have been been implemented. Even though it was visible that the federal government were lying for several days in relation to applying for a bailout, there is very little public outcry. While pole evaluations suggested that the government were falling in popularity, the level of protest was minimal. The question has to be asked, why the Irish people are so passive with regards to situations which will have serious consequences for his or her lives. One explanation may be the lack of interpersonal solidarity. For instance Bauman (2000) argues that in modern society individuals are now defying their id through the intake of various goods and products. He argues that creates too little public solidarity and creates a far more individualistic society. Maybe it's argued that the Celtic Tiger has created a world of consumers who are only worried about their own needs. The Celtic Tiger period in Ireland is often regarded as a period where individuals and organizations were living extravagant and affluent life styles. It seems as if individuals in world are actually more concerned about their own needs and have very little concern for others. This may change after the true impact of the austerity measures visits home for various communities and individuals. It appears very obvious from the recent budget that the most prone in society will pay the highest price for the flaws of the elite.

It seems noticeable that it is the actual thinking and ideology in Irish society which must undergo a crucial reflection. Both those in vitality and society all together need to consider what kind of culture they need for both themselves and future decades. If having less protest in Ireland is anything to go by it seems as if individuals in Irish population have grown to be self-interested and have very little concern for the more vulnerable in society. It might be worth introducing the procedure of critical reflection at an earlier age in institutions in an attempt to create impartial thinkers who can handle challenging dominant discourse at both organisational and politics level. However from my own connection with various social treatment settings and the training system such an ideal does not seem to be on top of the agenda. It may suit those at the top to truly have a society which follows and does not question. Or it might be, that those at the top do not question their own motives. In any event, if Ireland wishes to learn from the problems of the past, some type of questioning needs to happen at a societal, governmental and specific level. The recent recession provides a space for such questioning. Whether such questioning materialises at the particular level suggested in this reflection remains to be observed.

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