Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Reflective writing

I've been wandering around YouTube this morning and finding a variety of different clips on the subject of reflective practices. I've added several to my YouTube channel but thought I would post the link to one that I found really fascinating. The clip is Introduction to Reflective Writing - Henry Dixon and lasts for 11 minutes (worth every second in my humble opinion). I went into it from the perspective of wanting to learn more about how to produce reflective writing but ended up taking a much bigger journey.

As I was watching the first part I wrote down the following questions:
  • Is my reflection accurate or distorted?
  • Is my reflection honest?
  • In my journal entries am I thinking from different perspectives or just from my own viewpoint?
And it made me look back through and reflect on what I had previously written in my journal. I am going to defnitely vary how I write my next week's worth of entries, as the Reader suggests, to see if different style of writing lead me to write in more or less accurate/ honest/ open ways.

Henry Dixon then goes on to talk about how to write refectively (at 3.09) by breaking the process down into three parts:
  1. Description - what was the event?
  2. Interpretation - what is the crux of the matter? Does it fit/ not fit into theory or with prior experiences?
  3. Outcome - what have I learned? how can I use this in my future practice?
I think that I follow along these lines when, to use Donald Schon's terminology, I both reflect-in-action and reflect-on-action, but that I might not be as disciplined when it comes to writing down my reflective thoughts. The act of 'thinking about' has been, I realise, more important for me than the act of 'writing about' but I am now changing my perspective to see that by writing something down I have a more accurate point of reference, and will be able to see a more rational, or linear, train of thought in my reflections. This should then enable me to pinpoint such useful places as, for example, where an idea has gone off the rails or how I arrived at such a conclusion or action-plan.
Perhaps the most interesting section of the clip though, for me, was the example Henry Dixon gives about a personal experience, in a Spanish class, where he makes a mistake and receives a reaction from the teacher (4.29). By using the breakdown above he analyses the event in the form of reflective writing, clearly showing how he learned from the event.
It immediately linked in my head to something that I had previously read in Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit (2006), "Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation I cannot see it, retain it, and use it." (p.10)
This, in turn, lead me to think about my reflective practices and how it is not only my actions/ reactions that I should be reflecting on but anything and everything that occurs during my day. Something I might see as seemingly insignificant or unrelated may turn out, through analysis and reflection, to produce an idea or realisation that I will be able to use to further enhance my professional practice.
I know that when I write in my journal tonight it will be with this idea in mind...

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