Reflective Learning Through Contextualising

Interactive learning is without a doubt integral to the ability of a student to be pro-active, not only in their own learning, but in relating it to their life more broadly. It is easy to see that this is the goal of the contemplative practices undertaken in class.

Especially in a course that focuses on the human impact on, both through denigrating and through protecting, the environment, the goal of such practices can be appreciated. What has already been elucidated throughout the last six weeks is the ease with which we can forget that our lived environment is not isolated to us but connected to a much larger system.

These contemplative practices, however, I have found did not induce as much of an introspective response as some of the videos shown in class. Specifically, the videos of how what may be a mundane activity or food to us, are implicated in very different ways in the lived experiences of others. The personalisation of food beyond the plate-to-mouth experience that is common for so many of us through reflective learning has enhanced the poignancy of many of this course’s topics and themes. The video we watched about the process from cacao to chocolate, and the lives of those who harvested the cacao, contextualised the modern food system experienced by myself in a very eye-opening and new way. The contemplative practice that followed, engaging the class in eating and reflecting on the cacao nib and the piece of chocolate was a welcome addition. However, it was the video itself that allowed for this practice to be useful in a real way.

2 thoughts on “Reflective Learning Through Contextualising

  1. Dana Brooks

    I understand where you’re coming from because the video we watched was an important aspect of this particular contemplative practice but I found that the contemplative practice helped me to fully understand the importance of what we had just watched. Often, videos shown in classes allow students to tune out and not pay attention, but I found that having the contemplative practice afterwards really helped me absorb the information that was in the video.
    I appreciate that you brought up the idea that such a mundane activity for us, such as eating chocolate, can be a very different experience for others elsewhere. I particularly enjoyed this contemplative practice because I was able to reflect on these differences amongst experiences of eating food and the processes that food goes through to end up on our tables.
    In conclusion: yes, I agree that the video was an integral part of the contemplative practice, but I found that the contemplative practice furthered my learning by allowing me time to honestly process what we had just watched.

  2. Matthew Chacon

    I definitely agree with your assessment of the contemplative practices in understanding how we are connected to a much larger system. Personally for me, the combined experience of watching the video and doing the contemplative practice made me much more appreciative of the individual labor gone into our everyday food. I can understand how you might not be able to reflect from the contemplative practices done in class though. I agree that at first, these practices seem mundane, dull and monotonous. After all, these are meant to be an introspective reflection on what we watched in the video. It seems repetitive to do all that after watching a video that may give an individual just as much reflection.
    However, sitting down and doing these contemplative practices made me realize that as I sit down comfortably, the people who’s labor went into the production of the food we eat rarely get the time to think and reflect for themselves. As I internalized this privilege that I was currently experiencing compared to people my age around the world, I realized the extent to which these practices went into my ideas about the world and my own self reflection. What seemed like a boring and repetitive practice at first helped me to realize what a position I was in compared to my peers around the world. I believe that the important thing to takeaway from these practices is not the first hand experience of the practice itself, but rather the internal reflections we have about these practices and how it helps to realize these self reflections.


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