Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reflection in learning

I'm interested in how good learners approach a task in a way that results in learning. There are things going on in their heads that allow them to catch the opportunity for growth that others miss. In some specific ways they are paying attention and getting better. 

It is not one thing at one time in the process that will make or break the learning. I do believe we too often rush through the learning experience, though, whether it is a lesson in school or just another busy day. We miss some or much of the learning. Only in reflection after the event can we glean more of what it was about. 

I have a cousin who travels the world speaking about spiritual growth. His work influenced me in my early 20’s, in particular his teaching about journaling. 

Before setting out into ministry, he worked in the automotive shop with my dad. At some point he started getting up earlier each day to pray, study and record his thoughts in his journal. He had four questions he would answer daily. I don't recall them all, but one stuck with me. 

After 24 hours in God's classroom, what did He teach you?

I could say a lot about that question, but mostly what it represents to me is the importance of paying attention. It implies something significant is going on that I might miss if not careful. 

I love reading interviews with artists because their answers always reveal lives of contemplation. They pay attention on a deep level, often deeper than I'd expect, and it's from there that their work is born. 

Isn't their originality defined by their ability to notice something the rest of us missed? Maybe it is the thing we missed or maybe it's the way they expressed that thing, but the work of art comes through attention to what's going on. 

As a teacher my natural tendency is always to pile more potential for learning in an activity than most students can take in. Not that it is always best, but I like to dump a truckload, then have time for reflection. I love those classroom experiences where so much goes on we will never realize all the learning if we don't mull it over after the fact. 

I'm sure there's a point where we could reflect too much, beyond what the activity could offer. But most learners are likely to err on the other side.

Are we giving our students time to reflect on their learning? Do we emphasize it's importance? Are we reflecting on our own lessons in life?


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