This week’s assignment is to reflect on the act of reflective writing itself, which is either perfectly timed to force me to pause in my headlong rush towards final due dates, or designed to trip up my momentum.
As I’m writing this I’m also working on an environmental scan for our management case study, but I have a live feed of the European Cross Country Championships playing in the background. It’s the final event of the day, the senior men’s 10km, and even though these are the world’s fasted men they hardly look like their moving. When you’re running a distance like a 10km it can be equal parts frustrating and exhilarating. On one hand you feel like you’re hardly moving, you become so focused that you begin noticing everything, the spectators, the countryside, the hardness of the ground, but on the other you can’t believe how fast you’re moving and the thought of keeping it up for another few kilometres becomes the biggest mental challenge.
Do you see where I’m going with this? [By the way, Michael Mulhare just came 15th]
If we hadn’t been required to pause and reflect during this, our first semester, I doubt that most of our class would have paused at all. Time has flown by, one minute it’s Monday morning and then it’s Thursday night, but once a week (or twice in my case) we have to sit down and think about our readings. Reflective writing, as I see it, is like writing in a diary with an audience in mind. The writer is forced to explain what they normally wouldn’t and to write in clear, correct grammar to do so. In running that’s called a race recap, something that many elite runners (often marathoners) do to analyse what went right and what went wrong. Something else is does is show the thought process of an elite runner while there running, something that’s very difficult to imagine when you’re watching them. My favourite recent race recap is this one by Rob Watson on his Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon because he manages to give good advice, good reflection on his performance and reaction, and do it in an entertaining manner.
I was pleasantly surprised by this class because my previous experiences with management courses have been with organizational behaviour, which I personally believe is a pseudo-science at best and a ‘re-branding’ of common sense practices at worst. However, in this class we learnt about management theories and styles and it mixed well with practical guest lectures so I could see how they worked in the real world. I enjoyed it as I enjoyed a class during my Library and Information Technology Diploma called Library Philosophy and Functions, which meshed the history of libraries and books with trends and issues in libraries. In that class we also had a charismatic teacher who taught using personal experiences as examples.
I’ve already used something that we learnt our first class. When you start a new job, always be suspicious of the person who’s overly friendly and welcoming, because they’re the person everyone learns to avoid. When I moved into my current residence I was welcomed enthusiastically by the room mate who turned out to be quite emotionally unstable, but I knew right away. It’s possible I knew this through previous experience, but that small nugget of information that we’d learned in class that week was swimming around my brain.
Of course we’ve learned more academic things, like flat versus hierarchical management and what makes the culture of an organisation, but one thing I thought we’d have an entire module on, rather than just two weeks, was finances and budgeting. My observations while working in libraries have led me to believe that librarians spend much of their time balancing budgets and working with funding, but a lot of what we’ve learned in our first semester has been research-based, not only in this class, but in our other modules as well. However, that’s feedback for the entire program, and not one single course.
I believe that my thinking has changed and I’ve become a lot more analytical about my relationships with other people when I work with them on a project or event, which may or may not be a good thing. People don’t like to be catered to or catered for, even in the name of diplomacy, but if you’re open about it, especially for a class assignment or project at work, then it can be appreciated.