Reflections: Reflecting on Reflective Writing through Reflection (Reflectively)

It was one week ago today that I came to read more deeply into reflective writing. At the time, I was fairly confident that I had a sound understanding of self-reflection and critique, but was eager to approach the topic with an open mind and a curiosity to see specific reflective techniques articulated.

I approached the text Reflective Writing: Some Initial Guidance for Students (Moon 2004) expecting a chapter of, ‘hold yourself accountable; recognise where you went wrong and why; describe what you’ve learned from that; what can you do better next time?’
This was my relationship with reflection at the time.

There was some of that. The text certainly encouraged self-questioning and internal dialogue (Moon 2004, pp. 209). However, this was only a small portion. Reflective writing goes much deeper than I had initially believed.

What was particularly interesting was the text’s focus on reflective writing, not only as means to determine how to ‘do better’, but as a means of better understanding something or grappling with an idea (Moon 2004, pp. 197).

A metaphor for reflection or its expression in reflective writing in this context is ‘cognitive housekepeeing’ to imply its nature as a sorting out, clarifying process.

— Jennifer Moon, A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice, 2004, pp. 187 – 188.

Another interesting aspect of this guide was the focus on a kind of externalisation. That is, hearing from and taking into account the experiences and comments of others in relation to the subject or event, “standing back from the event” (ie. perhaps, distancing yourself from the internal experience of the event and imaginatively approaching it as an observer), and recognising external forces or factors that could influence the outcome of the event or the understanding of the subject, such as prior knowledge or past experiences (Moon 2004, pp. 209).

This was a fascinating exercise and I am eager to employ some of the techniques mentioned above. While I can see how, going in, I thought I had a clear understanding of reflective processes and that what Moon was suggesting was, actually, a separate approach and not necessarily reflective, I now, after taking some time and distancing myself from my previous position, can see that these, in fact, compliment one another in a move towards deeper and more purposeful reflection. I will endeavour to work on my reflective skills, particularly those of externalisation, as a means of clarifying ideas and better understanding events or topics.

Works Cited

Moon, J. (2004). A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge.

*Featured Image Credit: Self-Reflection – Clipart Kid

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