Writing as a tool for self-reflection
Students lead fast-paced lives that are crammed full of activities. There are the regular academics through the bulk of the day, and for most students, after-school time means a slew of extra-curricular pursuits that usually entails going from one class to another. The result – no free time. No time to wander, reflect, take it easy, relax, and just be.
Most psychologists and thinkers on child-development, parenting and education, will speak to the absolutely vital importance of ‘free time’. That children must be, need to be, left alone. To be with themselves, without any agenda. Because it is in this free-time that they build their self-concepts, explore, and grow. In today’s scenario, the opposite is true. Parents and schools alike, don’t want a child to be idle, even for a second. So how then is a student to reflect?
One potential solution could be writing. I suggest this solution specifically because these days, anything that a student does must have a direct-benefit to his or her curricula. Hence, writing presents those obvious benefits. Improving of language, polishing one’s creative writing skills, honing one’s self-expression. While these overt benefits will appease most parents and teachers – the child is not wasting time; writing will also inadvertently perform the function of free-time reflection. How?
If a student works on certain non-fiction writing assignments, be it an essay or a written speech, he or she will be compelled to do some research on the topic, and more importantly, based on those findings, critically analyze the topic in order to reach his/her own opinion on it. For instance, a broad topic such as Social Media will acquaint the learner/writer with several positive and negative aspects of the sphere of social media, basis which, he/she will be able to decide if they feel it is a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ thing. In doing so, the learner will ultimately get to know himself/herself better. After all, we are, what we think right?
GET TO KNOW THE ‘SELF’
Even if it is fiction writing and students embark on writing stories, short or long – it is a well-known fact that stories are derived and therefore deeply connected, with the self. Usually in a story, the protagonist is a reflection, in varying degrees, of the writer. In doing so, as was the case with non-fiction writing, learners are reacquainting themselves, with themselves. Because it is the writer’s hopes, fears, desires, that find their way into their lead story-characters; writing them is helping a student to look inward and reflect. It can be therapeutic, and at the very least, introspective.
TRACKING INTERESTS, PASSIONS, DEVELOPMENT
A form of regular writing I always recommend to my students is Journaling – in simple words, keeping a diary. Even a short diary entry each day will ensure that a student, over time, ends up with a rich repository of his or her daily activities and feelings. Going through this diary at regular intervals of time can serve as a telling and insightful tool of self-reflection. A student will be able to note changes in interests, passions, relationships, and also from those, track how he or she has changed, developed, evolved. In terms of direct self-reflection, this is arguably the most targeted writing method.
It is imperative for young students to know and understand WHY they are pursuing the myriad of things that they are engaged in. It is also crucial that they KNOW their own minds, and aren’t blindly leading the lives that others – be it family or peers, have dictated for/to them. This can only be done through self-reflection. And in order for that to take place, writing is an invaluable tool!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.