Jung’s Take on Reflective Writing

I’m not going to lie, this was one of the most complex academic articles that I have ever read. Twenty pages of repetitive jargon and too many ideas going on at once made it hard to pinpoint Jung’s main overarching argument. The article starts off distinguishing between first-person narrative – writing about your writing process – and reflective writing. Reflective writing is a more sophisticated way to write in depth about your writing process, and requires analyzing and explaining word choices, organization, ideas, sentence structure, etc. In English 124, we had an assignment to describe our writing process, so I wrote about outlining and drafting ideas before I complete the final product. This would be an example of what I believe Jung means by the first-person narrative. In higher level English classes, we are assigned to write reflectively, describing why we chose the style, words, organization, structure, and ideas that we created in our paper. This level of reflective writing is extremely important in a student’s development as a writer; reflective writing creates a cognizant awareness of many unconscious choices the student made while writing their paper.

Personally when I write, I don’t plan out every single word; rather, I start with an outline and the words and sentence structures flow as I type. In the early drafts, I don’t really think about the consequence of the word choice and often I don’t realize the connections I unconsciously make until I read over the draft. This is exactly why reflective writing is so beneficial because it helps the student learn his or her own writing process. Jung critiques several scholars including Yancey and Schon, but they all agree that reflective writing can be very beneficial in education.

Schon says writing is similar to tactic knowledge such as how a baseball player “just knows” how hard to throw the ball. Tactic knowledge is knowing how to do something based on whether it “feels right or wrong.” Such knowledge, Schon and Jung agree, is enforced by ideology and personal experiences. Continuing with the baseball analogy, the baseball player is a guy and learned how to throw a baseball because of cultural ideals that boys should play baseball (this is a summary of what Jung says – I didn’t make up the analogy). Writing truly is tactic knowledge because often we write in a style that seems “right” for our paper and choose words that seem to “flow.”

A major critique Jung presents about reflective writing is that many students don’t take it seriously and just write what they think their audience – an academic teacher – wants to hear. This doesn’t provide the benefits true reflective writing yields and it also falsely reinforces the teacher’s teaching methods. In addition, some students are not as rhetorically persuasive as others and can’t successfully convey through reflective writhing why they made the choices they did in their essay. Teachers often view these students as struggling and not putting effort into the assignments, when this may not be the actual issue. Instead, the issue might be that the student is not good at reflective writing. Jung concludes with a model to change reflective writing so that it better engages both teachers and students.

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