McCormack, David and Ryan, Mary B.
Introductory Module. Unit 3: Learning as a Way of Being: Reflective Practice, Experiential Learning and Supervision in
Adult Guidance and Counselling.
Department of Adult and Community Education, Maynooth.
The development of the reflective practitioner lies at the heart of the approach and philosophy of this course. This approach does not seek to replace the traditional structures of knowledge where the power and status resides in the ideas and theories but attempts to develop and deepen the learning through the lived experience of the
learner so that it has relevance and meaning for the learner. Knowledge does not reside in a book; it resides in the person and is transformed as the person engages in a
continual process of action, reflection, theory and pragmatism.
The ethos of the course is based on the belief that it is our task to create a learning environment that encourages this reflective process. In this way learners will be
equipped with the skills and knowledge to cope with change and the challenges of working with the marginalised and long-term unemployed. Vaill (1996) wonders what kind of learning is important for people to live decently and purposefully under conditions of constant change. In this view learning is regarded as a way of being that extends to the whole person, which impacts on all levels of awareness. It emphasises the changing of organisations and systems to make them more democratic, fair and caring.
This course is unusual in the university context in that it places a high emphasis on the assessment of both skills and personal development, in addition to the more traditional academic skills and knowledge. A learner remarked that:
It is not possible to isolate the highlights of the course, it is as an entire experience that it can only be judged; suffice to say it was an exemplary self-audit.
(Department of Adult and Community Education: 2003).
There are, however, a number of core beliefs and philosophies that underpin the course process and content, and these will be articulated in this unit.
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