Follow The Republic:
“WE do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” These words of John Dewey resound within me as the school year ends and, now, all that remains are the quiet reflections that will guide changes as I begin to prepare for next year.
Reflecting is a large part of my classroom and a large part of my own personal learning style.
The art of reflection goes as far back as Plato when he advised us to “know thyself.” Plato knew that a lifetime of learning existed within these two simple words, for self-reflection has always been a way to connect our experiences to a cognitive process where we develop meaning and significance.
Two current scientists from MIT, David Foster and Matthew Wilson, studied the brains of rats before, during and after they made their way through a maze. Their research found that the real learning for these rats occurred during periods of rest and introspection. In other words, the rats that performed better were those that were given time to relax and reflect before attempting to complete the maze again.
Mindfulness, or quiet reflection, helps all of us examine our experiences, prioritize our own learning, find connections to other concepts, determine future goals and see changes over time. It forces us to ask ourselves questions like, “What was important? What should I keep and throw away? What will I change the next time?”
Summer is a great time for reflection, and I have always been grateful for this time to grow. I also believe that it is important for children as well because each of us, regardless of our age, can learn a lot by taking the time to know ourselves better after understanding our past experiences.
Reflection is especially good for young learners as they are also developing their own values.
However, I have observed that this skill isn’t often practiced naturally by young people who are whiling away the long hours of summer without any regard for the future.
It is up to the adults in a child’s life to guide them through meaningful reflections that will lead to purposeful changes before the next school year. This communication will not only help them sort through their experiences — both good and bad — it will also help them to redefine their own beliefs and solidify significant learning elements from their recent experiences.
Take time this summer to reinforce past learning and prepare for future lessons by encouraging personal reflections that guide children into a meaningful understanding of themselves as people and learners. And also, remember to do this for yourself!
Karen Greathouse teaches a production lab class at Central Middle School.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
Note: All comments left on our sites are first reviewed by an automated comment moderation system. Your comment may take up to 5 minutes to appear. If for any reason your comment can not be approved you will receive an email from this system with a detailed explanation.
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.