Iredale, Alison (2012) Risk-taking in thought and in deed: towards a new conception of the development of professional knowledge and practice. In: The Ethical Challenge of Multidisciplinarity: Reconciling 'The Three narratives' Art, Science, and Philosophy, July 2 – 6, 2012, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus. (Unpublished)

Aristotle insists that the development of knowledge and understanding begins with experience. Sense experience is, however, unreliable. This is illustrated by the difference between the naked eye perceiving things to be “crooked when seen in water and straight when seen out of it”, and a scientific understanding of the phenomenon of refraction (Plato 602c-d). Drawing on this analogy, this paper explores the tensions between broad based higher education practices and the pragmatic, technicist initial professional development programmes prevalent in Western Society. Wain (2006: 37) suggests that institutions, fearing uncertainty and risk, are far from confident in their “knowingness” (Smith 2006: 5) but are constantly seeking reassurance through “the language of skills and competencies, of measurable outcomes and transparent transactions in their decisions” (Wain 2006: 39). This paper argues for the reclamation of an inductive approach to initial professional development as an alternative to the increasingly deductive discourse of regulation, audit and continuous improvement facing many novice professionals.

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