More Critique of Reflective Writing

Reflective practice has its uses, primarily as a tool of circular, incremental preparation, reparation, and improvement, i.e. self-checking. But any practice that takes attention away from the learner and learning is injurious to teaching. If reflective writing has to be done, it should be done according to an empirically derived, criteria-linked formula. That is, the structure of reflective writing has to be programmed – purposefully constrained to eliminate unproductive deviations, stream of consciousness ramblings, and wallowing in feelings (since these are absolutely subjective, time-sensitive, transient, insubstantial, and for these reasons, not reliable indicators of very much at all that is of value to the learner).

Proponents of reflective writing are in broad agreement that any model of reflective practice/writing is usable and indeed can be adapted by the practitioner for efficacy as determined by the practitioner. Hence, the choice of model, the composition of the model, and the content of the writing that the model steers, are entirely subjective. Proponents of reflective writing argue that it is not the choice of model that is important, but the act of reflective practice as manifested through reflective writing. Critics of reflective writing can logically argue that any allegedly worthwhile activity necessitates solidity in form. This necessity grows in proportion to the assertion of the process’s benefits. In other words, that which is proposed should be robust and defined with clarity in proportion to its importance. If the reflective method has the value that its proponents claim, its proponents need to provide hard empirical evidence of the superiority of one model over others, and show how that method generates tangible improvements to teaching practice.

Without these two qualifications, the prominence of reflective writing/practice is without justification. The flexibility regarding model choice and liberty in adaptation undermines the importance that reflective writing has acquired. If it is important, a definitive model is required; if it is not important, no model is required, and anything unimportant can be abandoned anyway.