Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Finding the balance between personal narrative and reflective practice in writing the AOL essays.

Skype chat Sunday 6 November 2016 (11 am)

Working on my AOLs, I am asking myself how to approach the writing process of my essays. I have not found a satisfying solution yet, however, there are some ‘aha moments’ that help me through the process that I want to share with you and I would love to hear about your approaches.
There are two things that made me panic starting with the writing: I only write personal stories with no interesting contentmy stories are mundane … and, I am judging either myself or othersI’m not objective enough for an academic essay. So how do I find the balance between personal narrative or judgemental reflections and reflective practice in writing the AOL essay?
I guess that, because the AOLs are all about my personal learning, there will be narrative parts in my essay. Those sections are there to explain and describe my experiences. The reason why those stories seem to be trivial to me is because so far, I have only talked about the ‘what’. There are multiple layers that need to be discovered in order to bring out something with more significance. This is the moment when I have to ask myself questions starting with ‘how’. Having done that, going through some literature (about learning theories but also more specifically about my topic) really helps me to figure out what I want to claim for and to make my stories more meaningful. This is a very exciting part of this module because, you know that you have learnt things over time but to see that there are people who develop theories around similar experiences makes you feel that your experiences are in fact relevant and valuable. Moreover, The Work-based Learning Student Handbook (chapter 5) from Ruth Helyer helped me a lot to structure my narrative stories. 
I’m not sure yet how to approach the issue of being judgemental. What role does critique play in my reflection? During the Skype chat we talked about the importance of keeping in mind that we are constructing an academic essay to say that our prior learning is valuable and not to look at what we have done wrong. One way to do so is to look at each AOL title as if it was a module.

So even though there is a lot of introspection that can be emotionally challenging, at some point, we need to move away from too narrative and personal approaches. This isn’t always very easy, but there are different tools that can help you. I'm sure that some of you have some more thoughts on this?

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