Reflecting on Reflexive Coppers
Being reflective means never having to say ‘sorry if these comments come a bit late’. So, after my recommended twenty minutes of reflection, here are some thoughts inspired by Monday’s excellent Reflexive Coppers report. The Social Brain team said reflexive, I’ll say reflective, even though I am sure that the difference matters to someone out there.
The report demonstrated a real appetite from the police to engage in new kinds of thinking and conversations, and also outlined the barriers, both cultural and institutional, that prevent reflectivity. These barriers are far from unique to the police force. Even the teaching profession, which by its nature you might expect to embrace reflection as a key pedagogy for pupil and adult learning, finds this difficult. It’s often a case of ‘Teach first, ask questions later, if at all’.
In my previous job with Creative Partnerships, although the excitement came during the classroom projects themselves, most teachers and practitioners recognised that the most important, sustainable learning came through the reflective processes we built into the programme’s design and values – ‘question, connect, imagine, reflect’. This was often tough stuff , but ultimately it was the reflection that changed teachers’ practices when our circus left town.
My own experience of Action Learning as a powerful tool for solution-focused reflection was that it worked best with people who weren’t only outside your own workplace, but from different professions. Common Purpose‘s model is partly built on this cross-professional approach, but their operation can appear too evangelical and assertive to encourage genuine reflection. It is also expensive. Are there cheaper, more self-facilitated ways for professionals across different public services to reflect collaboratively, possibly based on the TeachMeet DIY approach, and possibly on particular themes (for instance, children and young people)?
When my sister was training to be a nurse, during one of her first lectures her class of sixty students was told that “half of you will end up marrying policemen”. She neither became a nurse or married a policeman; but if her lecturer was right then reflective, cross-professional pillow talk may already be happening, off -duty, in various rooms of various homes.