Why Reflective Practices are Important?

Reflective Practice is something that empowers the practitioner to express his works through words. I will begin with my understanding of Reflection and then the history of reflection. I will finish by summing up the importance of reflective practices.

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.Confucius

While on working, I never really reflected on my works. To be true, I never even knew that something called Reflection exists or I would have even disregarded its need if I got to know this before. This is just the right time I have been introduced to the Reflective Practices. Although I never understood its importance before, I’m learning its significance now and would definitely like to explore how it can benefit me in growing in a better artist.

Not much ago, I attended the Day 1 of Reflective Practices class at Srishti, and the instructor began with asking everyone’s perception about Reflection. It was then I realised how different everyone is from each other. Interestingly, everyone has different thoughts about reflection and all of them seemed true to me. This made extremely difficult for me to define what precisely is reflection.

Reflection is a process of critically analysing own work and expressing every minute thing from the piece of work into words. Every artist tends to like his work and thus it makes really difficult to critically analyse own work rather than other’s work. Reflection also helps the practitioner discover their reactions and actions, mistakes then often commit and henceforth, help them learn from their mistakes. One can never become a master of something overnight, the understanding deepens with constant practice and curiosity over time. Reflection ensures our the correctness of our thought process since we can always look at our previous reflections and understand why we only chose this over that. Reflection can also act as a parameter to measure one’s growth over the time. A Practitioner must be unbiased when he writes reflection so that he can reveal his true.

Let me now go into the past and see how reflective practices itself evolved over the time. The reflection did exist from a long time back but it was Donald Schön who first introduced it in his book The Reflective Practitioner in 1983. There are several models of reflective practices by many theorists and I will take a dip into each one by one. The first such model was believed to be by Argyris and Schön in 1978. They pioneered the idea of single and double loop learning. In the single loop learning, the practitioner continues to rely on same strategies even after occurrence of an error whereas the practitioner modifies his strategies or techniques in the double loop learning. Another such model was developed by Kolb in 1975 who highlighted the concept of experimental learning and the transformation of information into knowledge. The next one is by Gibbsin 1988 who did structured debriefing to facilitate Kolb’s Experimental Learning Cycle. Gibbs’s structure included initial experience, description, feeling, evaluation, analysis, conclusion (general and specific) and the personal action plan. In 1995, John structured the model to gain greater understanding with act of sharing with a colleague or mentor. Another leap was taken by Brookefield in 1998 when he proposed a model which research assumptions by looking from 4 lens, they are – the lens of their autobiography of learners of reflective practice, the lens of colleague’s perception, the lens of learner’s eye, the lens of theoretical, philosophical and research literature. In 2001, Rolfe formulated a model based on a simple cycle of 3 questions – What?, So what? and Now what?

Reflective practice brings a self-awareness in the practitioner about what he is doing which in turns help him to improve over the time. The practitioner also assumes responsibility for his own learning and develop thinking skills for enquiry. It helps one to understand his strengths and weaknesses. It will also help to know the areas where one thinks he is weak. Besides reflection by oneself, reflective practices also enables others to look at the reflection and suggest their views on our work. To sum it up, Reflective practice can be defined as thinking and evaluating what a practitioner do and ask others to look at his reflection to point out suggestions to help him improve. Be it be a artist or not, Reflective practices are extremely useful and one should definitely consider doing it.


[1] UCD Dublin Teaching and Resource on Reflective Practices
[2] Wikipedia Article on Reflective Practices