Reflecting on our learning is one of the most crucial elements in our overall education. As we enter exam week, I encourage students and faculty alike to reflect on what they have learned, how they have learned, and why this information matters on a personal level. John Dewey said, "We don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience."
Many people might go through day to day school life and see each class, assignment and assessment as isolated, unrelated tasks, although it seems apparent that this is not a paramount way to constructing meaning from your education. Learning requires reflection.
You might think I am suggesting some type of solitary contemplation time, but not at all! What this librarian recommends is sledding with your friends, listening to music or checking out a film or art.
Reflection involves linking a current experience to previous learnings (a process in education speak, called scaffolding). When we recall information in various ways, whether kinesthetic, visual or auditory, we are processing the information all over again and encoding our brains anew. Not repeat and regurgitate! Synthesis!
Take Newton's laws for instance. Sledding is the perfect way to reflect on the concepts of inertia and acceleration!
Or, check out Clara's awesome classic cartoon rendition for physics!
Need help reciting poetry or reflecting on iambic pentameter? Listen to Jay-Z or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Studying India? Check out Slumdog Millionaire or Monsoon Wedding.
Obviously, this type of reflection offers a bit of fun and relaxation, but don't underestimate the power of reprieve from the rigor of studying. Opting for a bit of fun and reflection can enhance how we synthesize the information we take in from our day to day studying. Processing information in different contexts allows the meaning to become engrained in our personal understanding of how the world works and why.
Don't let your text books and notes suffocate your learning process this exam week. Make time for reflection and a wee bit of fun!
Case in point : Albert Einstein conceived his theory of relativity while riding his bike!