Reflection – Why and Hows

Reflection is one of the best to tool to bring self awareness. Education is nothing but being self aware. Understand how reflection helps and how do we do it.

Personal reflection is – looking at oneself (in the mirror) and observing and contemplating the same.

We can reflect on many things – what I did? how did I do? why did I do? how did I felt? what were the consequences or results? what did others do? what all I observed? what else happened? how all this affected me? and so on.

There is no specific reason why one would reflect – though we presume (and so has John Dewey said) that any doing or experience will lead to learning only when we think about it.

When you believe that the best learning comes, not from textbooks or classes (that’s knowledge), but from experiencing (that’s life) – then reflection becomes the core to that learning. In other words, reflection is core to wise living.

Why should we reflect?

#1 Reflection helps children become self-aware
The other day when we were reflecting, we were thinking about what all we ‘threw’ today. The variety of answers were amazing – starting from wrapper on the pathway, potty in the pot, to opportunity to learn cooking, to throwing put-downs on others, to even throwing a belief about self!
Just taking few minutes to ponder on our days through a particular lens is so self revealing – almost like a magnifying glass!

#2 Reflection helps children become others-aware
One child shared, “I think others missed me today, for the whole day I did everything for myself. Another shared, “My reflection is that most people eat with their mouths open, so its alright to eat with one’s mouth open”. And yet another, “You challenged me, I did not like it, but it helped me – should I be happy or angry with you? Then amidst laughter he added – “I Guess I will be both”!
To me life is all about relationships that we live by and when we are only able to understand them a wee bit better, I guess we can live a wee bit better. What say?

#3 Reflection helps children to develop the ability of questioning
The ability of questions oneself, “Why is it uncle that every time I forget to do something, I don’t remember it at all. Like brushing for example”. Then after a pause she added, “I guess that is why God made mothers – to remind you!”
The ability to question the world around us, “I am thinking If I was the shopkeeper, I would finish off all the chocolates and then what will I sell?

#4 Reflection helps children become value conscious
We were reflecting how many times in the day we said something which was not really true and how each one of these helped us.
I said, “the Bhel I made for myself was tasty, when it was not really tasty – this ensured nobody made fun of me.”
“I said I had washed my hands when I had not. This way I did not have to go and wash my hands”.
“I teased her that she was looking like a lizard – which she was not – and this was funny and we all laughed”. Big silence, then “But I think she did not like it”.
When we reflect we understand our decision / choices (values) better. When we understand our values better we are able to discern good or bad for ourselves, we become conscious.

#5 Reflection help children enjoy each day and life more.
We all like to see pictures of a tour after we come back. In a simplistic way this is nothing but a reflection of our trip. Sometimes in the rush of doing, we miss to enjoy that moment. When we reflect back we are able to not only savor the moment more, but also able to see more details, enjoy different aspects of the same.
Whats the point of living when we can’t pause and enjoy each day, treasuring the gem and then safely tucking it away into the folds of our memories.

How to do reflection

#1 Share together:
Select a time of the day, say dinner time, sit together as a family and each reflects and shares about their day. The trick is to be – as adults – be honest about your day, share genuinely and most importantly do not judge the child if the child shares something openly. Remember reflection is not a dough to preach rather to self learn.

#2 Act it out:
This is not only more fun and energetic – but since whole body, movement, voice and even teams get into the business of expression – many more nuances surface.

#3 Visual diary:
If possible everybody takes out their diary and DRAW – yes more than writing – drawing is fun and gets us to think more. One can further annotate the drawing with words or make a mind map etc.

#4 Pair sharing:
First we discuss our day in pairs and then the other person shares our reflection to the group. This throws an interesting perspective of how others relate to our reflection.

#5 Use tools to reflect:
Tools basically help you explore different ways of how you reflect about whatever you want to reflect about (say your day or a movie or an event or a conflict).
We have collected a dozen such tools for you to explore with your children. Use them and see what works for your family / classroom or group! See this page

By Aditi & Ratnesh