Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Need for Artistry




I’m reading (skimming through) Donald Schons’ book Educating the Reflective Practitioner.

As I read, I see how the issues that are currently going to be big challenges in carrying out the Phoenix Project are being highlighted by what is written in these books.

Haringey council has a history of bad practices and incompetence in the community. Everyone I talk to criticises the council officers, they roll their eyes and say “good luck’, I’ve been trying to do that for 28 years”.

Schon writes about this in his book as a crisis in confidence. He goes on to explain, that when professionals fail to respond to value conflicts and violate their own ethical standards or are blind to the public problems they have in some cases helped create- they are subject to expressions of disapproval and dissatisfaction.

Ivan Illich wrote in his critics, Celebration of Awareness: A Call for Institutional Revolution (1970) and De Schooling Society (1971) of a misappropriation and monopolizing of knowledge that disregards social injustice and mystifies their expertise.


Schon’s approach is to encourage the ‘artistry’ of reflection in action and on action as a way to resolve these issues. I will investigate how much of this is actually taking place in council practice, if at all.

Illich is much more revolutionary in his thinking and suggests the idea of learning webs, people sharing information without the need for institutions.

A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known. Deschooling Society, chapter six, 'General Characteristics of New Formal Educational Institutions



That leads me to the Police. I read this article back in the beginning of our course, as I was researching innovative ways for the police to interact with the communities in which they worked. Another troubled institution much criticized and a clear case of ‘crisis in confidence’.

The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) has written a great report and follow up blog
on the concept of reflective coppers.

Here is a link to the PDF

I look forward to falling deeper down the rabbit hole. 

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