Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Week's Reflection

Now I will reflect on "what I reflected in" last week :) Palmer suggested people should think in the way of "both...and", instead of "either...or". He also proposed the concept of "profound truth", which led us to think of "paradoxes". The paradoxical way of thinking suggests that people should comprehend the world in a thorough way. It is not only abstract mode of knowing, but also it can help us to examine how good learning happens and what hard and/or soft scaffoldings we can provide to facilitate students' learning. The six paradoxical tensions mentioned by the author were meaningful when building a effective learning environment. An interesting thing that draws my attention is, my first history & philosophy class potentially followed the six statements by encouraging both "small group" discussion and "the big group" discussion to allow us sharing both the "small stories" and the "big thoughts". Furthermore, I totally enjoyed the free and kind atmosphere in class. I felt relaxed and would want to talk more with my friends. Another interesting topic in our small group discussion was about the different understanding about "silence" by culture. Emily, Pretti and me were all from Asia, and we believed, to some extent, silence indicated more positive facets, such as showing respect or introspectiveness. On the other hand, the western culture may hold more negative perspectives towards silence.

What I got most from Schon's reading is the difference on "reflect on" v.s "reflect in". Reflecting on emphasizes standing with a distance to re-examine what you have done, and trying to figure out the ways to refine and to improve. It was like "If I could have a second chance, I would do it in this way to make it even better". Reflecting in means when you are in the process, you are tying to find the flaws and correct them immediately before it is done. One example that came into my mind in the group discussion was making cookies. When I stirred the milk, eggs, suger and flour together, I realized I might put too much milk, so I decided to put some chocolate power to make the dough dry. That is what is called "reflecting in". After my cookies coming out of the oven, I tried one, and I found maybe I should add some cinnamon to make it more tasty. That is what is called "reflecting on". It also made me to relate what I have learned in instructioanl design. Reflecting in and reflecting on are like the formative evaluation and the summative evaluation. A famous saying from Robert Stakes about this two evaluations is, "When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that’s summative."
Finally I want to share my two cents about the group behaviors. People are unconsciously playing different roles in a team. Personally I excel in providing information and clarifying the thoughts. I am not a good starter since too much information fill into my brain and sometimes I am too sensitive on details. I am afraid I may mislead people away from the main structure. But no matter what roles we play, we should think together. I appreciate what Beth and Julie did to keep everyone on the same page. Secondly, Everyone will gradually grow up and become comfortable with teamwork. As a foreign student, we don't need to "hate" or "blame" our English or slower reaction towards a topic. What we can do is to practice more, and let time shape. The more we practice and participate, the faster we can grow up and get used to the style.
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