Donald Schon


Donald Schon (Schön; 1930-1997) was one of the most influential thinkers who helped develop the theories and case studies of reflective learning within the business services sector.

He is also famous for his contribution of the development of the single loop learning and double loop learning theory.

Biography Donald Schon

In his younger days, Donald Schon obtained a BSc. Degree from Yale University and a MSc. Degree as his doctorate (Ph.D.) from the Harvard University

As a philosopher Schön had always been fascinated by research and this resulted in a scientific career.

During the years of study and research with  Raymond Hainer, Thomas Kuhn and Chris Agyris, Donald Schon provided several insights in the fields of behaviour and organizational science.

Donald Schon introduced important concepts within science and practice such as learning systems, frame reflective practice enquiry and generative metaphors (figurative descriptions of social situations).

Donald Schon and Chris Agyris made in-depth studies of the concept of ‘learning systems’.

Both he and Chris Agyris maintained certain ideas about the flexibility of people and organizations.

Life experiences and lessons learned throughout life should contribute to the development of people and organizations in times of change.

These ideas have been further developed in the theory of Organizational learning

Donald Schon and Chris Agyris made their contributions to this by developing the theory of single loop learning and double loop learning.

Donald Schon died September 13, 1997 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital after a seven-month illness.

Donald Schon quotes

  1. “A practitioner’s reflection can serve as a corrective to over-learning. Through reflection, he can surface and criticize the tacit understandings that have grown up around the repetitive experiences of a specialized practice, and can make new sense of the situations of uncertainty or uniqueness which he may allow himself to experience.”
  2. “Reflective practice is a dialogue of thinking and doing through which I become more skilful.”
  3. “Our bias toward thinking blinds us to the non-logical processes which are omnipresent in effective practice.”
  4. “The reflective practitioner allows himself to experience surprise, puzzlement, or confusion in a situation which he finds uncertain or unique. He reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behaviour. He carries out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation.”

Publications and books by Donald Schon et al.

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