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AJ Cann

I think your analogy confuses reflection with ethics. I suspect all "good" i.e. effective bankers are reflective, but whether they choose to do "good" as society would see it is another matter. Prisoners dilemma (again). Both sides have to benefit.


I think you outline some causes yourself.

Bankers are the ultimate product of capitalism, a system that promotes individualist, greedy, behaviours, and does not care about communities.

I think bankers reflect from an egotistic, self-centred viewpoint, e.g. "How I am doing [economically] in comparison with X?", no from a societal viewpoint, e.g. "am I doing good to society or not?

The banker's aim is the individual bonus, not the community benefit.

Surely bankers' genuine reflections happen but those reflections are not externalised - made public, because the goal of that reflection is just to improve the private benefit, not the public interest.


@AJ - no, I don't think so. Particularly with respect to my question i) - this crisis has taught us that we are not separate from bankers nor them from us. To be a good, ie effective banker you must work with an overall objective of sustainability in mind. I didn't argue that they should necessarily benefit society, I don't expect them all to be altruistic, but if their practice _damages_ society then ultimately that will damage them too. So even from a selfish point of view, it is in their long-term interest not to harm society. 'First do no harm' would be a good motto for bankers as well as doctors. And I think they can't have been reflective not to have seen that their practice was ultimately unsustainable - they were therefore not effective practitioners, regardless of a moral perspective.
@Mariano - that is probably true, but even selfish behaviours can have altruistic or positive effects, so the function of the banking _system_ if not the bankers is to harness this effectively. In terms of reflection, it may not matter whether they are selfish or not, the point is they were bad practitioners, except in a very short-term sense.

anne marie cunningham

Did you see "The Love of Money" on BBC? It seems that Greenspan thought it would be self-regulating.. that it would be intuitive not to take risks which would cause all of finacedom to collapse. But then the workings got so complex that people could easily reach a state of denial about their own place in events. How can an individual reflect on events at that scale. It has to be publicly to be useful I'd guess.

Yesterday I was doing so student appraisal. Two of the students commented that they thought they might 'think too much about things'. These were two of the best students in the year. They hadn't realised that this ability to reflect might be the cause of their success, and was a good thing. So I think you may well be right about the relationship between being a good practitioner and reflection.

Juliette Culver

Do the people who don't reflect about their teaching reflect about other things e.g. how to do good research? I'm just curious as to whether it's a subconscious decision as to how direct to their attention or a more general lack of reflection.

Dominik LukeŇ°

I think the problem with the analogy is that it conflates two meanings of the word 'reflective': the commonsense one and Schon's technical one. What Schon was really after was to use reflective practice as a way of bridging the gap between the kinds knowledge academics have and professionals have:

"What is the kind of knowing in which competent practitioners engage? How is professional knowing like and unlike the kinds of knowledge presented in academic textbooks, scientific papers, and learned journals? In what sense, if any, is there intellectual rigor in professional practice?"

Having the kind of 'reflection-in-action' knowledge Schon described doesn't necessarily mean better practice just like an academic applying rigour to her scholarship may be profoundly wrong. And a closer examination will reveal that in fact many of these failed bankers were reflective practitioners who were being reinforced by the people with academic knowledge. (See Tett's 'Fool's Gold' for examples).

Perhaps, this quote of Schon's could apply:
"Many practiontioners, locked into a view of themselves as technical experts, find nothing in the world of practice to occasion reflection. They have become too skillful at techniques of selective inattention, junk categories, and situational control, techniques which they use to preserve the constancy of their knowledge-in-practice." But again the questions you propose they should have been asking of themselves don't appear to resolve this particular problem.

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