If reflection can only happen in learning ecologies where learners are given time and direction, refraction can only happen in environments where we believe in transparency, networks and perspective. Schools and societies need both.
I believe that portfolios/blogs are a wonderful way to bring refraction and reflection together. In a recent post about the power of reading for thought leaders, I came across the following:
- Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, which breaks down to 1 per week
- Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day
- Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said “I read books.”
- Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every 2 weeks throughout 2015
- Oprah Winfrey selects one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss
I’ve long been a fan of Goodreads as a tool to make our reading habits more transparent and our love of learning more visible (I reflected on this years ago), and I continue to follow #IMWAYR (It’s Monday What Are You Reading?) on Twitter with delight. One of my favorite mentor texts for both reflecting and refracting learning comes from our acting Head of School, Nick Alchin, because he often updates his learning community on his reading (see here for just one example). What makes his example even more relevant for me, is that I’m able to make connections between his reading reflection and refract it with another member of our leadership team’s reflection, Stuart MacAlpine (see an example here).
experiment flickr photo by uberculture shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
School culture is built both intentionally and incidentally.
When members of the community share their learning processes, make connections amongst their inquiry, and collectively consider resources we see another opportunity to enhance our culture.
Could we do more to intentionally synergize our reflective practice? Yes.
The philosophy behind our use of digital portfolios speaks to this, but we need to build and seek out opportunities to bring it to life. In part, I believe it starts with carefully crafting questions which will be creative catalysts for conversation (I tried to do that here). But we also need to schedule sharing. Where can we make time not just to record and reflect, but to respond to the reflection of others, thus refracting a network of inquiry? Much has been said about blogging to develop voice, but I think we need to stop underestimating blogging as a tool for better listening, George Couros has commented on this here:
Is your school culture the product of reflection and refraction?