It seems to me that the notion of "reflective practice" offers a highly challenging paradigm for learning and a means of enhancing the coaching process. Central to any learning episode needs to be a specific practice event, experienced uniquely and differentially, often by a small number of people. The outcome of which is to likely derive a number of more abstract generalisations that can be applied to future situations.
The acquisition of knowledge through the medium of reflection is not a new concept; Plato argued that to know something required recollection and is therefore a reflective and introspective process. Some consider it a transformation process whereby experience and theory become knowledge. Others take the view that whilst reflection enhances our knowledge it may also confront our ideas and underpinning theories. Reflecting on a situation allows us to develop and view things differently. Bill Taylor, BCU Level 5 Inland Coach, regards reflection to be a potent process in gaining a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind why things do or don’t work. Leberman and Martin state that “reflection is fundamentally important, provides a major contribution to personal growth and therefore affects the transfer of learning” (2004: 174).
Cultivating the capacity to reflect in action (while doing something) and on action (after you have done it) is becoming an important feature of training programmes in many disciplines. Another aspect that is also emerging is recognising how the assistance a mentor can be beneficial in gaining the most from an experience. Indeed, it can be argued that 'real' reflective practice needs another person as mentor or supervisor, who can ask appropriate questions to ensure that the reflection goes somewhere, and does not get bogged down in self-justification, self-indulgence or even self-pity!
Reflective learners are likely to be: more self-aware and self-critical; honest about themselves, and open to criticism and feedback; objective in weighing up evidence; open to, and prepared to try, different approaches; curious to discover other approaches, motivated to improve, and more able to carry through independent learning.