Currently 1 visitor is viewing this site.

"The big difference is between those who want to theorise and use design as a convenient vehicle, and those who want to design, and look for ways of exploring the act." Ranulph Glanville

These ways of dealing with the new and uncertain connect to Donald Schon’s enquiry into how professionals think in action. Schon regarded academia’s view of knowledge as limited since it did not capture “practical competence and professional artistry”. He was interested in what architects, psychotherapists, engineers, planners or managers were actually doing in their practice. His assumption was that they knew more then they could say. While universities were committed by a particular epistemology to a view of knowledge that ‘fostered selective inattention’ (Schon, 1983, vii)—his concern was to understand how professionals learned through and knew in their practice.
Schon believed this kind of (professional) knowing occurred especially in situations of uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflict. Analytic techniques could only reach so far. Problems were interconnected and environments turbulent and active, and therefore synthetic skills were necessary to design a desirable future, and ways of bringing it about. Schon writes: “If it is true that professional practice has at least as much to do with finding the problem as with solving the problem found, it is also true that problem setting is a recognized professional activity.” (Schon, 18) Professionals not only reflect on past actions in order to prepare for the future, but also reflected in action. Reflection in action was central to the art in which practitioners coped with troublesome “divergent” situations of practice, and constructed a new way of setting the problem by imposing a “frame-experiment” upon the situation. (Schon, 62, 63)

Dewey identified four ‘attitudes’ which were necessary to cultivate for successful reflective enquiry: “Open-mindedness, defined as freedom from prejudice and [other factors] that close the mind and make it unwilling to consider new problems and entertain new ideas. It includes an active, emphatic desire to listen to more sides then one; to give heed to facts; to give full attention to alternative possibilities. Whole-heartedness - defined as when someone takes up a project with a whole heart, and individual interest; and Responsibility - defined as considering consequences of what one has learned. The final attitude being directedness - faith in human action and the belief that something is worth doing. For Dewey (so Lyons) these were the means to acquire a reflective attitude of mind and constitute the methods of engaging in enquiry. (Lyons, 2010, 47)

last update: 7/5/02015 11:45

About Contact Disclaimer Glossary Index