Thursday, May 14, 2015

Reflecting on reflecting

Is it too “meta” to be writing a blog post about writing blog posts? I wanted to comment on the blog post writing assignments though, and how I think they are actually a really important part of the 20.109 curriculum.

I was thinking back to a lot of my other classes that I’ve taken here and I realized that for the most part, as soon as I finish a test, I forget a lot of the material (if not all) that I have just learned. It is hard to retain information when you are not constantly using or thinking about it, and once the pressure of having to do well on an exam has passed, you have little incentive to keep thinking about the subject.

The same is true for 20.109 in some regards. This phenomenon was most noticeable for me after the Mod2 report was due. I had stayed up for over 24 hours, working furiously to not only get words on to paper, but to learn about and fully understand all the concepts necessary to write a coherent paper. Things were going so quickly that I hardly even noticed when 5pm came and went. The paper was submitted and suddenly it felt like the raging cloud of stress and pressure had been lifted. I proceeded to forget about that dark time in my life (sleep deprivation is no fun) for a little while, blissfully unburdened. I had poured so much effort into that paper, but as is frequently the case, when something is done too quickly, a lot of things fail to stick.

However, because I had to write a blog post by 5pm the next day, I was forced to sit down and reflect on what had just happened. Reflection is powerful and not only can lead to useful insights and thoughts, but also requires you to relive and reinforce your memories of important things. It was a way for me to process what had just happened to me and I think it helped me better understand more about my work process. There is always room for improvement and reflecting is a good way to start.

Writing all of these blog posts now at the end of the class has also led me to an appreciation of everything that we’ve done so far. During the semester, I felt a strong urge to complain about all of the work that we had to do but my anger was most likely misplaced stress. Looking back, I feel like a more confident writer, and certainly a more confident speaker and presenter than I was before. The best way to learn things is to just do them, so being thrown into the deep end like we were was probably for the better. Taking the time to write these reflections on different aspects of Mod3 and the class in general is a very cathartic experience and I encourage future students to really take advantage of writing these blog posts to really think about and learn from the past. 

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