Reflection encompasses educational practices that cultivate inner wisdom and prepare students for compassionate and transformative action in the world. There are essentially two types of reflection: critical reflection and reflection based on mindfulness practices.
Critical reflection works through cognitive processes in the brain in order to effect conceptual change. Individuals can use reflection to make changes in their personal lives, and groups and nations can use reflection to make changes in how they do things, in order to live more effectively.
Mindfulness practices work through the emotional and sensory processes to effect change in self and other-awareness at the experiential or sensory level. Mindfulness practices are based on intrapersonal or emotional development of students within their own person. At the root of mindfulness or contemplation is the ability to still the mind (rather than engaging in thought, as critical reflection does), and allow for awareness of sensation to emerge. Awareness of physical sensation further allows students to become aware of how these are related to their emotional states, which is a pre-requisite for learning to be present to and to work with them. This stillness requires silence, awareness, and focus.
These two aspects of transformational learning are complementary and work together to enhance and deepen learning. Teachers’ use of reflection as part of the planning process is good pedagogy.