Reflection is the core for learning. Expression and documentation of this reflection is the base for sustainable learning. It is easy (comparatively) to memorise and later recall from the retention (though you will lose considerable amount on the way). It may look difficult to critically look at and reflect on a concept/event. If you make it a habit, you are going to enjoy for the rest of your life. It becomes part of your knowledge and you grow wiser and wiser. Yes. Reflection is the path of wisdom.
Chronological/Regular keep of reflective diary will help you compare/contrast/sort out facts and figures and create your own knowledge base. This will help in your career/job/life. Though every individual is unique and different, few common/standardised tips might be of use for the beginners. Later, you can design your own creative reflective diary. Till then try using the following:
1. No. of words: To be honest, there is no minimum or maximum limit for the write up. Feel free. Imagine you have an experience of chatting with your ‘close’ friend for two hours, and later you have to write your feelings, thoughts and possible actions. Will you limit it to a paragraph of 100 words? Surely not. I would suggest you to write at least a page/or two with 500/1000 words. (typed)
2. Number of /Regularity of Entries: I eat my food regularly. I do not fast for six days and eat all the food of the week on Sunday. It is not a healthy practice. Isn’t it? Writing a reflective diary should be made as a HABIT. It is good to scribble now and then, write at the end of the day or the next day than postponing it for weeks.
3. Reflection Phase 1: Description of issues or events: When you write about the place, time, people involved, details of actions of an event, you are describing. If you just restate/rephrase the concept/issue, you are describing. You need to be well versed with the skill of description ( if not like the literary pundits) as it is the base for reflection. You need to be a good and clear observant of details for you to be a good descriptor. To understand description better, I would say that there would be no discussion taking place at this juncture. Asking questions like ‘where and when does this happen? Who are involved? What happened?’ might help in this section. Instead of beating around the bush, you need to focus the area of the event/issue.
4. Reflection Phase 2: Discussion of issues or events: Look at the issue/event in various perspectives and try to locate various factors of it. You add your feelings and thoughts to these factors. Add other relevant knowledge and experience. Try to compare and contrast with one another. For example, when you talk about ‘globalisation’, you want to discuss about how ‘retailing’ has been taken by giant multinational companies and how ‘petty shops’ disappear. You might compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of ‘big shopping malls’ and ‘ street-corner small shops’. Who benefits? Who loses?
5. Reflection Phase 3: Critical Discussion of issues or events: When you start asking ‘why’ questions you are already are in the serious part of reflection. What is the justification each party give for their actions? The ideology behind the actors. Connect with the historical and other socio-cultural, moral, ethical factors. What is the historical root cause for this event? Can you also speculate the future? What would happen if ‘this’ continues? You might also use ‘WHAT – SO WHAT – NOW WHAT’ process for reflection. Connect with your personal life/family/community/nation. Connect with other subjects/programmes. Try to analyse, evaluate and synthesis. If you have any questions, doubts, reservations try to document. All these demonstrate your self- awareness of the event/issue and understanding of the purpose of the reflective diary.
6. Output: The output need not be always an essay. It can be a poem, a drawing, a photograph, a drama script, a story, a proverb, a quote or any other creative methods. You should demonstrate your ability to comprehend and express with cohesiveness. Be honest with the reflection. There is no place for plagiarism.
References:1. Learning journals and logs, Reflective Diaries, by Prof. Evangelos Afandras in his lecture ‘Introduction to Ethics” 29/01/2013.