“Let me reflect on that” is a common phrase that you’ve probably said (or heard) more than once. And it’s a saying that seemingly doesn’t need to be explained. You wanted some time to think about “that,” whatever “that” was. But what did you mean, really, by reflect
? Are thinking and reflecting the same thing?
This book is an invitation to reconsider not only what reflection is, but also how incorporating reflection into your life can help you find meaning in your experiences, make better decisions, and shape a path toward your aspirations.
If reflection is the what
of this book, experiments are the how
I am a professional experimenter. After doing my fair share of school science experiments, I pursued a career as a scientist. I spent a couple of decades in a biology lab and got a doctorate in developmental biology. When I transitioned to the field of education, I discovered that the experimental mindset I had acquired was a superpower when it came to learning pretty much anything. As an educator and leader at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the d.school), my latest experimental endeavors have been focused on finding better ways to teach and learn—and reflection is a key component of my methods.
The experimentation in scientific studies advance our collective knowledge in different fields. But experimentation also drives learning in our day-to-day lives—think of a baby throwing food from their highchair to see what happens, a home cook tweaking a recipe until it’s perfect, or someone trying out different ways to communicate with a loved one.
For this reason, I’ve crafted a set of experiments for this book, organized into three collections, so that you can put into practice a range of reflection methods. Doing experiments may sound complicated and time-consuming, and you might be tempted to just read the book and skip the doing part. Yes, by reading, you’ll learn something—maybe a lot—about reflection, but don’t settle for that! I don’t want you to just learn about
reflection. I want you to become a (more) reflective human, and an experimenter too. Doing the experiments helps you get out of your head and into the world (even if you don’t physically step outside). That’s when you stretch your reflection muscles the most. At the same time, working through this book shouldn’t feel like a chore. Try those experiments that speak to you and skip the ones that don’t (you can always come back to them later).
Copyright © 2023 by Leticia Britos Cavagnaro and Stanford d.school. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.