January 10, 2019
A few months ago, when I accomplished my appointment as an administrator in my department, I directly prepared myself to focus again on academic tasks. Occupied by the duties as an administrator for 4 years made me almost impossible to conduct the work that I really like: researching and writing. Therefore, when the opportunity came, I was very excited to start writing academic texts. To start, I tried reading and evaluating some of the writings I published ten years ago. Sometimes I was amazed by some parts of the texts that I thought quite hard to do at present. I was also frequently surprised to see various out of date ideas due to the rapid development in the topic area since the articles’ publication date. New findings along the ten-year period have really turned some valid ideas to be obsolete. I also realized that the older an article, the more limited number of references it used. It reminded me that the articles I published ten years ago were still relying on printed literature and the number of such references was limited. Thanks to the internet for making references very easy to access today.
That evaluation of some old articles provided me with three awareness. First, writing is essentially a skill. When it is not used for a long time, it will get weaker. When it is used continuously, it will get stronger. Second, research is the key to scientific. The more research is conducted, the more concepts are tested and formulated. Third, the ease of accessing references on the internet provides great help to advance the productivity and quality of publications.
These three awareness that I gained from the evaluation turn out to be very useful. They empowered me to complete eight articles, two research reports, five chapters of a module, and dozens of essays in five months. In addition, they also inspire me to share and encourage some of my colleagues and students in writing.
After reading an article about thinking, I finally realize that these three awakenings are the result of the reflective thinking I did on my experiences in writing. Any time we intentionally evaluate, synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience, we are reflecting. Reflection enables us to have a better understanding of past experiences and to know what works and what doesn’t work. John Dewey emphasized, “We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.” Chen (2017) describes six benefits of reflection: (1) It helps you learn from your mistakes; (2) It gives you great ideas; (3) It helps you help others; (4) It makes you happier; (5) It gives you perspective; and (6) It helps you understand yourself better.
If reflection offers so many benefits, why don’t many people do it? Some might answer that it will be difficult to do and some others will say they are so busy that it is hard to make time for reflecting. However, reflection is easy to do. Just do the four-step cycle adapted from an anonym article titled “Why Reflection is Important.” Fist, engage in an experience. Second, write the experience succinctly and reflect upon it critically to get insights. Third, make a generalization based on the insight and meaning you take from the experience. Finally, incorporate that insight into your life.
Implementing this reflecting process regularly, you will find it easy to do. The necessity of a large amount of time depends on the complexity of experience being reflected. Yet, spending 15 minutes every day for reflecting is more than worth doing because it empowers you to make a great difference in your life. Why don’t you start it now?