If life is what happens to our plans, then dance is what happens to our steps.
ideas sometimes when you wait they come to you.

Preparation for starting with BAPP

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Can action be reflection?

Melissa wrote an interesting blog about reflection and the reader

More research on Reflective Practice

I commented on her blog as below. I  putting it on my blog because I think it would be interesting to get others peoples take too

The first part of your blog about Kolb is really interesting. I too, find it hard to understand each part when I think of them out context of the cycle. That is as a lone activity. I think it helps to remember thinks can be focus on a larger whole. The whole is the cycle the entry points are just ways to understand the movement of the cycle. BUT if you really want to see where you enter I think it helps to think of ... if you have a plat-pack cupboard kit in front of you what do you do. 1) Just start making it, 2) read all the instructions first, 3) check-out one that's already made or someone else making it, 4) plan out all the stages by putting the parts in order of use. I have trained myself to look at all the parts. BUT the 'real' me would sooner just start and learn as aI do it even if it takes longer than reading the instruction or I end up making something else and have bits left over!!!!!
Anyway the flat-pack question helps me think about the points of the cycle more easily.

Then I want to say a quick word about what you say about reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action, Schon and Kottcamp. It is important to check-out what you consider thinking and what you think with. These are not a 'facts'. There are many arguments that define thinking. Your blog implies that thinking and learning are mental / mind activities. I think That the brush strokes of the painter. They are meaningful movements. When I go to look at Van Goth's paintings at the National Gallery I see his brush stroke and they talk to me as deeply as him talking to me would. The movement of the brush strokes have emotion, knowledge, sensitivity, understanding of the flower or chair they create in my eye. I believe reflection-in-action or on-action  is also to do with what you value as reflection. Remember not everything, thoughts or ideas has to have words to it. In dance think of contact improv. there is a physical conversation without words but you know and you exchange ideas.

In answer to the question I pose "Can action be reflection?" I passionately believe that action is reflection. Dewey points out its all very well working out the best way (theory) to do something but to be part of a community (network) it is only useful if you actually do something about it. This is also important to me as a woman because so many western women philosophers did rather than wrote about it and the importance put on words rather than action have led us to loose much of the meaning behind their work. But I am sure I also feel like this because I am dyslexic and constantly justifying my bad relationship with words!!! What do you think?


  1. Your examples always help me so much to understand things!!

    I found your idea 'Can action be reflection?' a very refreshing point of view, as I tend to think of action as 'active experimentation' that follows reflection and construction of hypothesis, but not as a form of reflection itself.

    I noticed reflection and action often do happen at the same time(including reflection-in-action when you reflect-on-action in that very action), and I imagine of 'kolb's learning cycles' as interlocked gears where the four elements of the cycle intreact,different gear of thoughts affecting and turning each other...
    (It may be easier to draw this image, rather than explain it in words).

    Reflection without action (words rather than action) is an armchair theory and does not take me anywhere in practical study like Work Based Learning.
    I agree with Dewey that 'to be part of a community (network) it is only useful if you actually do something about it.'
    Action(experiment) is the key to development!

    I personally find it comfortable to write words and draw figures/illustrations when I reflect.
    (I liked to categorise myself as the type of with liguistic intelligence (Gardner,1983)for this reason, but it revealed to be that I chose pen and paper because it was handy and cheap. Reflection often leads me to face the sad truth...)
    I use words and images to reflect and conceptualise; to handle/organise thoughts,communicate ideas and concepts. I find dance or music alone too abstract for that process.
    I record thoughts because I am too forgetful to retain them in my brains, and use pen and paper because of the reason above. Some people who can organise and retain their thoughts in their heads may not need to record them, and some people may choose to record using voice recorders.

    Interestingly,'talking' seems to be a good opportunity for reflection for me, not just a method of communication. I realise new ideas and viewpoints by myself when I tell somebody my experience. Is this action being reflection? Or reflection during action?

    Sorry for my confused and confusing comment!

  2. Your explanation on the different way to think about where I enter Kolb's learning cycle is genius!! I instantly felt like I understood it a million times more! Sometimes I think I look to deeply at it and that's how I was confusing myself, but looking at it from the flat pack point of view makes it much easier to understand for me.

    I do feel like thinking and learning are more metal activities for me... probably because i find it harder to learn from most physically method's. Im not very good at improvisation and letting my body just go with the flow and produce something, I'm always trying to think about it first, which is good sometimes, and other times not. It's strange though because when I reflect in action, I am learning from a physical point of view not mental..

    I agree with what you and Mina both said about Dewey's "being part of a community (network) it is only useful if you actually do something about it.'
    It made me think about how we learn and how we develop, and I think I need to look into it more!