Learning through critical questioning and reflectivity effectively externalizes deep-seated assumptions, leading to transformation. Learners engage in recapturing, noticing, and reevaluating their experiences. For significant personal learning, learners reflect on self-image, change their self-concept, question internalized behavioral and moral norms, and reinterpret current and past behaviors from a new perspective.
Learning for self-awareness and self-understanding involves critical reflection, meaning-making, and perspective change. The learner examines actions to change beliefs and engages in reflection in action. The learner actively reflects on current and past knowledge and experience to generate new ideas and concepts.
The coaching creates reflective learning conditions: a psychological space, allowing clients to stand back from their workplace and gain perspective on themselves, their experience, and organizational leadership tasks with the coach’s support and challenge.
Regularly use tools or models for professional development and practice, such as reflective learning journals. Engage actively to come to terms with feelings, learn from mistakes, explore successes, and develop empathy and understanding. Identify a critical event or incident, describe it in writing, and think deeply about how beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge influenced the outcome.
Gillie Bolton’s Reflective Learning
Bolton defines reflective learning as the capacity to learn through self-examination of actions, thoughts, feelings, motives, and assumptions. Reflective learning enables us to study our decision-making, constructively criticize our relationships with colleagues, analyze problematic and painful episodes, and identify learning needs.
List-making is a tool for prompting self-reflection. The client lists his fears, goals, dreams, desires, reasons to take action, and reasons not to.
To gain relational awareness and empathy, ask the client to write a description of her boss, a coworker, a direct report, or a family member. Prompt with questions such as:
What motivates that person? What makes that person happy? What is upsetting or frightening to that person?
Work with your client on self-judgment. For example, ask your client to list qualities he considers positive about himself from the point of his boss, spouse, or colleague.
A critical element of reflective learning is to observe oneself without judgment.
Identifying life chapters is a form of re-storying.
Choices in how clients frame their lives at present illustrate how the self emerges and changes, instead of being a stable and fixed entity. Our self-view and the stories we tell about ourselves change over time.
Writing an autobiography transforms our life into a story. When narrating one’s history, the author sets out to reassemble scattered elements of his individual life and regroup them in a comprehensible sketch. It requires taking a distance from oneself, drawing the meaning from one’s life, reconstructing the unity of life across time, and finding a larger story that distinguishes one’s life from another’s.
Learning in these contexts results from finding patterns and meaning in our lives, perhaps even building a theory of our life or life in general. To recollect, distill, and analyze our experience in stories creates insight into life’s meaning and purpose and grows our understanding of self and others.
Life Course Development
Life course development theories are closely linked to the previous view, such as Levinson, Erikson, Bridges, Baltes, Kohlberg, Loevinger, and Kegan.
All individuals develop throughout their lives. This lifelong process unfolds in distinct life phases as a sequence of eras and developmental periods within eras. It involves stable and transition periods. Major transitions are times of significant discomfort, questioning, reassessment, and redirection, followed by a period of consolidation and stability. Transitions and results are different for each person, but each phase has life tasks to be worked through. In addition, the life phase is often linked to realizing particular goals. These create nested hierarchies of life tasks, life goals, and project-level goals.