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Why is reflective thinking uncommon

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This paper presents some thoughts about the use of the word 'reflection' and the provocative statement that reflection seems not to be a spontaneous everyday activity in our professions or everyday life. The discussion focuses on the cognitive aspects of reflection. As reflection is regarded as a conscious activity the hypothesis of a conscious 'I' and an unconscious 'me' is discussed in the light of information theory and their suggested functions in understanding and grasping the world. It is suggested that as a consequence of short-term memory and our flashlight-like consciousness scanning our perceptive world, it is difficult to keep our consciousness focused on one thing for longer times. This is suggested to be of evolutionary survival value with the consequence that focused reflection needs active effort and energy, and thus is not a spontaneous activity. It is also suggested that the conscious 'I' and its capacity to reflect is of evolutionary and historic recent origin, arising in the dawn of modern society in association with the development of a free will. The reflective capacity is thus epigenetic and has to be learned and encouraged
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Teacher Education, Lulea˚ University of Technology, SE-97187, Lulea˚, Sweden; [email protected]

Publication date: 2003-10-01

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