Thursday, November 29, 2018

Role of Critical Reflection in Learning

Why it is important that we surface and critically reflect on the underlying assumptions which influence the ways we see, think, feel, and act?
Our frames of references and the underlying assumptions help us function and deal with the complexity of life. These assumptions and beliefs constitute our points of view and our habits of mind. Unknown to us, our assumptions guide many decisions that we make on a daily basis and make us view reality in a specific, unique way. To add to the challenge, assumptions are not always stated explicitly. There are many implicit assumptions that effect how we see, think, feel and act. Challenging these assumptions means questioning the everyday things we take for granted, accepting that multiple realities exist and that our view is not the only view to the world.

There is tremendous value in questioning our assumptions and surfacing some of the underlying beliefs. If we don’t challenge our assumptions, we continue to see the world in the same way, with the same perspective. We cannot hope for any transformational learning without reflecting on the underlying assumptions. We stay in the ‘auto-pilot’ mode and continue to make decisions without real awareness of why and how we made the decision. Our unchallenged assumptions can eventually become a hindrance to our growth and development.

Through critical reflection we are able to expose and uncover our underlying beliefs and assumptions. And when we state these upfront, we are able to think more deeply about what they really mean and whether they are justified. By doing so, we are attempting to make our frames of reference more open, inclusive, flexible and reflective. At the end of the day, we want to ensure that our beliefs and assumptions serve us well and enable us to learn and grow, to make better decisions and guide future action.

The ultimate goal of education is liberation, or praxis, “the action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it” (Freire, 2000, p.60).

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