Since the publication of Schon's (1983) book on the character and development of professional knowledge, our research has been directed at applying his theoretical position to the problem of how teachers acquire the knowledge of practice that allows them to teach as they do. Briefly, we have attempted to understand what lies behind the apparently simple notion that teachers learn to teach by teaching, by examining how teachers interact with their experiences in order to learn from them. This paper does not dwell on the results of our qualitative case studies of 13 participating teachers; these are reported elsewhere (Russell, 1988; Russell, Munby, Spafford, & Johnston, 1988). Instead, this paper explores some of the work that has been occasioned by Schon's writing. As shown below, his books have been interpreted variously, as different people have found different points to focus upon. In some cases, these differences suggest that there are difficulties in Schon's position; in other cases, there are grounds for thinking that the differences emerge from incomplete understandings of Schon's position. We find that discussing the various interpretations helps to push our own thinking forward, and to identify the questions that we find worth pursuing.
The paper has four sections. The first is a sketch of our interpretation of Schon's theoretical approach. The second examines selected appraisals of the more general features of Schon's work. The third section focuses on his two concepts of reflection which seem to have been misinterpreted by some who use his work. The fourth section focuses on the concept of "reframing," which we take to be central to Schon's account of the development of professional knowledge. Here, the discussion moves toward identifying theoretical and empirical questions that are raised by our own work and by the appraisals noted in the second section. The paper's response to these appraisals is the starting point for speculations about the directions that might be taken to further our understanding of the conditions that promote teachers' professional knowledge.
"Reflection-in-Action and Reflection-on-Action,"
Education and Culture: Vol. 09
, Article 4.
Available at: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/eandc/vol09/iss1/art4