What Gets us from Experience to Understanding is Reflection

In Learning

“Reflection … is a transformational process”. — Karen Hinett


We learn by experience and by trial and error. We have the potential to learn from our mistakes.

In Western culture phrases such as ‘that’ll teach you’ or ‘you’ll learn’ are common reprimands when experience shows us the error of our ways. Yet we talk about these conditions for learning as if the experience leads directly to improved ability or understanding. However, what gets us from experience to understanding is reflection. True, repetition and practice help us to learn but they do not substitute for the process of actively thinking about how we did, what we did well and what less well.

With the aid of a simple prompt question such as ‘what might I do better next time?’ or ‘what could I do differently?’ we have the potential to draw on the past and present and direct ourselves into a better future. It is this power to effect change that makes reflective practice so fundamental to … education and to the creation of lifelong learners. (Hinett, 2002)