This post originally appeared at the Center for Collaborative Education on November 30, 2016.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
When we take the time to reflect, we take a moment to stop and critically think about what has come to pass. Without an understanding of why things unfolded the way they did, we rarely feel empowered to change the status quo. However, we often focus on the “living forwards” instead of “understanding backwards” – reflection.
Quite often, the time for reflection is the first agenda item to be compromised in a course or meeting. After powering through a class, educators often leave reflection as an afterthought, a final half-hearted question. After a couple students share out their brief, underdeveloped thoughts, educators often consider the subject complete and ready for assessment. Eventually the student receives a grade and moves on to the next task.
I recently sat in on a conversation between my cousin and my aunt about a low test grade. My aunt attempted to guide my cousin in reflecting about why he received his grade, her final statement being:
“At the end of the day, I don’t care about your score as long as you understand what you got wrong and go back and learn those concepts well.”
“Are you kidding me?! You don’t care about the score?! That’s all that matters!”
There are many reasons for my cousin’s response, but I would argue that one is that his learning does not intentionally incorporate reflection; he hasn’t discovered who he is as a learner.