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Reflection in Learning: Discipline case study – Museum studies

In the context of PACE activities in particular where most students will be using this, it’s a very powerful way of learning, and it’s powerful because it does things like make connections. It helps you make connections between things like what you’re learning at university, the kinds of theories that you’re learning, the kinds of skills that you’re learning and what you’re doing in that workplace, or perhaps in other places as well. You can make connections between what you’re doing now and your future, so starting to think about your future career might be something that you might do here. It’s also about making sense, making sense about what’s happening to you right now. So for instance, many students come across the idea that their supervisor has said to them – “Well this report isn’t what I wanted.” And sometimes for student, that’s the first time they’ve ever been told something they’ve done is completely wrong. So making sense of that can be a powerful thing that you can do with reflection. You can start to think about things like – is it just this supervisor, are they silly, is it me, am I a bad person, is what I am trying to do, what I thought I would do for my future now not going to be there because I’ve done a report badly. Or is it just that I need to re-frame this report in some particular other way. It might also be about whether you’re in the right career, so – is this the right place for me to be, have I been planning all this time to be a something-or-other and then find I don’t actually want to be that. Or is it a way of working out where you want to fit within a particular profession? I used to teach in museum studies, for instance, and most of my students would come along and say – “Oh, I only want to work at the Australian Museum” – well, there’s not many places in the Australian Museum, or certainly not enough for all museum studies students. The question is, where else could they go? Many students ended up doing their placement in small organisations, but at the end of that they often came back to me and said — “You know when I thought this through, when I reflected about this, I realised that this is the place is where it’s all happening. This is where I meet community, this is where I can make a difference.” So in fact the charting of the course into a smaller organisation of their future is now what they plan to do. Which brings me to the third thing that you might think about or why reflect, in terms of making plans. Making plans for the future, so if your report is no good in your work placement – what do I do now, how do I go forward from this — might be something that you might reflect about. Where do I go in my future, does this mean I can’t go forward in my future, do I need to think about something else? In all of these ways this is a lifelong skill, if we start doing this in a purposeful way now, rather than just the random thoughts in the shower, then suddenly we’ve got some way of making sense into the future, making plans into the future and making connections between a whole range of things into the future.

Reynold King

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