Reflective Learning

Reflect or Respond?

It is imprudent to respond without reflecting whether it be after reading a piece of news, watching a movie, or answering the teacher’s question, not to speak of many other circumstances of life.

Let us reflect on this issue by evaluating the benefits of reacting after due reflection. “I exist, therefore I reflect” reflects the underlying philosophy of this blog. Humans are uniquely endowed with the ability to reflect–a skill grossly underused by students. It is rather easy to react instantaneously, but requires training and discipline to engage in reflection.

Objective of Reflection

There is no better way to make good decisions than to reflect well before responding. The quality of the decision is only as good as the degree of reflection that goes into it. While reflection is not rocket science, its seeds ought to sown when children are young. Consequently they get a chance to learn and apply this skills for the rest of their lives.

Reflection in Education

Let us explore a practical scenario.

It is common for the teachers to expect learners to respond to a given question or issue.  If the question is simple, requiring recall of memory (lower order thinking skills), responding instantly is probably acceptable. Educational institution’s primary goal is to hone in higher order skills like: analysis, evaluation, synthesis, especially on issues where there is no one correct answer.  Given this scenario, the teacher should nurture students to apply the skills of reflection.

The issues require careful consideration all relevant factors–weighing the pros and cons, opportunities and threats, asking the “what if” questions, apart from considering alternatives. No doubt, these require of the learners to reflect and cannot be expected to post an instant response.

Reflective Process

Reflection is akin to what happens inside a tumble dryer.  It is the putting of certain issues or questions in our mind and going over it, like inside a tumble dryer–up and down, down and up, left to right and right to left. Like the clothes in the dryer, the issue or idea is tossed around, in our mind, in all directions. Overall, the reflective process helps one to better perceive the issue and see the possible implications and outcomes in a clearer way.

The answer that evolves as a result of the reflective process is bound to be far better in quality and more valuable. In other words, there is no learning that is devoid of reflection.

Fosteringreflective learning is one of the most valuable lessons that teachers can inculcate.  The outcome is worthwhile and long lasting. Students will be wiser and learn to think for themselves. In short, this is lifelong learning.

Teachers, how do you instill reflection in learners? I am keen to hear your ideas.

Students how do you practice reflection? Tell me your experience.


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