“It may be that the very construction of a thinking and feeling, intellectually engaged writing subject itself fosters learning “(Crème, 2005: 293 quoted in Absolam & de Saint Lèger, 2011)
Reflective practice is a well recognized technique for learning in a higher education setting and to maintain professional development throughout a career. It had never been something that I was super comfortable with, it seemed forced on me as a learning technique in management courses where I did not think I had so much to reflect on. However, going it my Master’s things felt a bit different. Beyond age 16 I have never studied an arts subject. In science, and to a lesser extent management, it is always about understanding hard data and interpreting the facts. Within that context, who I am feels much less important than in filmmaking, where I need to find my voice. Reflective practice I therefore felt would help me find my voice. Since November, my blog posts have been a little sporadic but I have remained committed to the idea.
Reading up on reflective practice it seems that some of the key purposes are:
- “to develop analytical, critical or problem solving skills in a particular field;
- to enhance creativity and/or improve written communication skills;
- to support planning and progress in a project.”
(Absolam & De Saint Lèger, 2011)
Fast forward to today when I am in the final throes of writing my learning contract which will detail what I will do, learn and accomplish within my Master’s over the next year. In a re-run of a discussion with my awesome Raindance advisor in her feedback she queried why I was saying that I would produce blog posts rather than a journal as the learning is for me not an external audience. Whilst it is true that blogs which are published assume some kind of audience, one of the common things that people write blogs are is things that are personal to them (WordPress). However, just because lots of other people do it is not a good reason in itself. The reasoning I initially gave was that I was more likely to engage in the task if I have committed to it publically. Apparently, this is a valid reason for choosing a blog over a written journal as people engaging in the digitally medium show greater compliance (Greaves, 2007, 2008 & Armstrong et al., 2004 quoted in Absolam & De Saint Lèger, 2011). However, the more I thought about this the less satisfied I was with this reason; if my compliance is an issue I should just commit to it. Even reflecting on this I still felt that a blog would be better for me than a journal so took the time to explore further why. Here are the reasons I came up with…
Whilst I will still be affiliated with health research, re-training as filmmaker is a big deal to me. My whole working life I have only ever known research. I have already described to me the importance of reflective practice for finding my voice in filmmaking but actually it is more than that. Sharing my learning experiences will help me to gain confidence and begin to feel legitimate as a filmmaker.
In writing my blog so far before ex-colleagues from the research world and my peers within Raindance class have read my musings. This is important to me for a few reasons:
- Doing a distance learning Master’s could be a lonely endeavour. Having support from people particularly on the deepest darkest days can maybe give me that boost to keep going.
- With peers from Raindance or others engaged in the filmmaking world, gaining their insights on things I am writing about may give me further pause for reflection, further avenues of learning to explore and in time develop a community of practice. I would hope that others reading could also take something from my post which would spark their learning or reflection.
- Ex-colleagues from the research world reading my blog and supporting my new direction also helps with confidence boosting as I have the courage to publically post about the different path I am now taking.
Finally, writing a blog is a different style of writing to what I familiar with in the academic world. Writing for an external audience helps me to think about how I can communicate things in a more a conversational style of writing. Adding another string to my bow is no bad thing.
None of these things would be possible if I selected the journal over the blog. I therefore feel that continuing to write the blog is the value to me, and I hope my readers will find something that is of value for them.
Absalom, M. and De Saint Léger, D. (2011) ‘Reflecting on reflection’, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 10(2), pp. 189–211. doi: 10.1177/1474022210389141.
Word press, Types of blog. Accessed on January 16, 2017 here: https://wordpress.com/types-of-blogs/