Many years ago I entered into the world of my first higher education studies, to be told there was an expectation that I’d have to keep a synoptic review.
Ah, if only they’d thought to speak in a little plainer English to the novice scholar that I was, I’d have known they meant a diary, a journal, a reflective log.
Explanation of their preferred title aside, I couldn’t grasp the concept of this reflection that I was being asked to do. No, it wasn’t for me. I just wanted to attend the course, submit the assignments and come out the other end with a shiny qualification.
Those who know me well might find it odd that I resisted. And even those who know me less well might be thinking . . . she’s writing a blog for heaven’s sake – how much more reflective could she be?
But maybe I’m just a different person now to the one I was then.
While my preference for learning has always been highly visual and kinaesthetic, I’ve also become, over the last few years, more and more experiential. I just have to get stuck in and do it before I can understand what I’m being asked to do, or believe it could be meaningful for me. And, if truthful, sometimes this means going through the pain of working it out for myself, when perhaps others could have helped me get there a little sooner or easier.
But that experiential learning preference isn’t only what’s helped me to grow and develop over the last few years. It’s the reflection that I’ve done along the way that’s really made my learning and development count. Taking a few quiet moments to think, to be mindful, to capture a word or a phrase that’s been meaningful, to share with others when appropriate, to re-read at a later date what I’ve written, to reflect on how I felt, what I was thinking, how someone or something made me feel: these are experiences that are unique to me and tell me about who I am.
And it’s the power of reflection that I try to remember every time I’m leading a group, and more especially in the coaching I do. It wouldn’t be right for me to tell others how it should be, but maybe I can use my experience and knowledge to facilitate along a non-directive continuum where my clients can work it out for themselves (with a little help from their friends).
For me, tapping into this powerful tool is an opportunity I won’t ever be missing again.