Practitioner’s Inquiry – a Transaction

One of the things that strike me as I read Schon is the transactional relationship between the practitioner and his context or situation. In reflection-in-action, the practitioner converses with the situation. He shapes the situation, but in conversation with it. In the process, his own models and appreciations may be shaped by the situation.

I like this specific example of the Supervisor and the Resident. The Supervisor exhibits a reflective conversation with the patient’s information. He is guided by his repertoire of different cases, interpretive explanations and psychoanalytic theory. However, the Resident was unhappy – his learning approach puts up with not understanding the Supervisor’s reasons for his analysis and recommendations. To me, it seems that the transaction between the Supervisor and Resident was not really happening.

Schon writes about the difference if the Resident were to actively discuss, or even challenge the Supervisor’s analysis, the boundaries of reflection would then be stretched to include the Supervisor’s reflection on his reflection-in-action. His mental models and appreciations could be shaped in conversation. And the exchange would be like fair trade!


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