Beyond the reflective practitioner: the case for enlarged thought

Donald Gillies

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This work in progress is focused on the concept of the reflective practitioner (Schön, 1987) and is aimed ataddressing some of the problematic aspects of that idea and how it has been implemented within (teacher) education. The research explores ways in which the quality of reflective evaluation undertaken by beginning professionals, in particular, can be improved.


This study draws on the ideas of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) and in particular her work on thinking and on judging – itself drawn from Kant. Arendt’s concept of enlarged thought is designed to ensure that judgements take account of a wide range of relevant perspectives. The research at this stage of progress is conceptual, considering the value and potential of these suggestions to teacher professionalism.

Main findings
So far, the study suggests that ‘reflection’ undertaken, especially by beginning teachers, may have limited value if that reflection is not informed by well-developed professional judgement. The paper suggests that ‘enlarged thought’, drawing on a much wider range of sources, particularly textual, would enable the reflective practitioner to engage in worthwhile self-evaluation.

The study is now moving to consider ways in which ‘enlarged thought’ can be encouraged inbeginning teachers, can be built in to practice, and to explore the extent to which this can be seen to improve the quality of professional reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2014 - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Nov 201421 Nov 2014


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • reflective practitioner
  • teacher education
  • enlarged thought
  • Hannah Arendt


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