Stephen Brookfield Four lenses

The first introductory session we had with BL we were introduced to the works of David Tripp, Stephen Brookfield and Donald Schon which focused on critical thinking and self-reflection in teaching and learning environment. We as a group were given Stephen Brookfield’s “four lenses” document to review. In summary Stephen Brookfield states that for a teacher to become critically reflective there are three inter-related phases that are involved:

1.Discovering the assumptions that guide our decisions, actions and choices

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2. Checking the accuracy of these assumptions by exploring as many different perspectives, viewpoints and sources as possible

3. Taking informed decisions that are based on these researched assumptions

The process of critical thinking as described by Stephen Brookfield “becoming critically reflective increase the probability that we will take informed actions” helps us as a teacher to analyse our own assumptions by examining our own experience through the four lenses. Stephen goes on to describe these assumptions as explicit (we already know) and implicit (third person perspective), this enables us to ascertain further understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses and, in doing so we are critically reflecting on our explicit assumptions and reviewing our implicit assumptions.

The four lenses evolve the critical thinking process further by reviewing each of the four stages and implementing these changes in our own teaching methods. Stephen Brookfield describes that to understand student experience is “of utmost importance” to good teaching. Incorporating the first two lenses, self-reflection and learner perception enables teachers to review feedbacks, ILP, SOW and lessons plans to identify areas that require improvement for a successful delivery of the course to meet the needs of the learners.

The last two lenses are as important as the first two. As Stephen highlights, which, peer observation can reveal areas of improvements within a teacher that otherwise will not be identified from ones self-reflection and, engaging in this method peers are able to learn from their failings and share good practice to improve upon the teaching and learning outcomes. The
fourth lens describes the relationship between theoretical and practical delivery, this helps to ascertain a thorough understanding of the framework and presenting opportunities to make alterations to the teaching methods.

To summarise Stephen Brookfield’s Critical Reflection, it is important that teachers review their assumptions, all the feedback (verbal or written) and make changes to methods of delivery that is more flexible, student centred and should always reflect and reinvent the wheels of teaching and learning on a continued basis

Stephen Brookfield (2012) Developing critical thinking. Accessed on line 29th Sept 2013 Brookfield, Stephen (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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