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Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner
Learning to teach: becoming a reflective practitioner

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7 Transformational learning

Mezirow (2000) argues that reflection only leads to learning if it leads to transformation. Merizow suggests that transformation occurs where the original starting point causes a dilemma that needs to be addressed, and then suggests that there are a series of possible phases which may be gone through.

  • A disorienting dilemma – loss of job, divorce, marriage, back to school, or moving to a new culture
  • Self-examination with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame
  • A critical assessment of assumptions
  • Recognition that one’s discontent and the process of transformation are shared
  • Exploration of options for new roles, relationships and actions
  • Planning a course of action
  • Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans
  • Provisional testing of new roles
  • Building competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
  • A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective.
(Adapted from Mezirow, 2000, p. 22)

What is particularly striking about Merizow’s ideas is the emphasis on conscious, self-managed learning. The learning is not a direct result of the experience, it happens because the individual takes charge of their critical reflection and explicitly plans and carries out steps to learn from it. This level of personal responsibility for learning is crucial during ITE.

Reflection point: Think of a scenario where a lesson you teach goes very badly. How would Merizow’s model help you ensure you learnt effectively from the situation?