Reflective Learning

The tragic events in Tuscon caused me to rethink this week’s blog. What have we as a country been doing since then? Self-examining and reflection: why did this happen? Was it the atmosphere? Should we track mentally unstable people better? Do we offer enough protection for our leadership? Have you noticed that we also do this, although not to the same extent, when something good happens or when a team wins a championship? Why did we win? What was the formula? Is it destiny? Is it repeatable?

It’s all part of a reflective, self-examination process, and I’d like to suggest that none of us grow without that, without looking back and seeing what we can learn and do from experience before going forward. In 1985, a book was written on this Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning. This is based on even earlier work by Kolb on the learning cycle in 1975 in which he described Experience, Reflection, Formation, and Testing as the 4 steps of this cycle.

When are good times for you to reflect? We frequently do when we make resolutions, when we evaluate performance, or when we create a project plan.

What are ways you reflect? Don’t take reflection for granted – pause, examine, evaluate, apply – then you will have learned. If not, you may be compelled, such as in the movie Groundhog Day, to repeat the same thing every time.

If you don’t RECOGNIZE what may have been the cause or helped you attain the goal, the success, the disappointment, you’ll be less likely to repeat or avoid what happened. Examples of people who do this frequently are speakers who review tapes (audio, video) of their speeches, salespeople (who look to find repeat success), and musicians (who work hard to maintain a high level of performance excellence at all times). So as you can see, it doesn’t have to be a pencil and paper reflection. But as a goal in the coming year, make reflection a big part of your learning life.


About hprager

Father, husband, brother and son. Delighted to be friends and mentor to so many wonderful people. Passionate about: leadership, learning and development, education, nature and the environment, youth, music, jazz, the tuba, Israeli dancing, networking and helping others, humor, laughter, swimming, hiking, the Cubs, Northwestern athletics, theater, musicals, concerts, traveling and making new friends wherever I go. Helping the world be a better place when I leave it.
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