The Benefits of Observational Writing in the ‘Field’: Becoming a Reflexive Learner in the Discipline
Observational writing, in the ‘field’, develops an awareness of student identity of themselves as authors in the discipline. Thus, to be a reflexive learner can involve the stripping away of old identities, the reconfiguration of existing identities and the creation of new ones. This can bring about an understanding of authorship as entailing a considerable degree of responsibility for what is written, where writing is considered to be a process through which we come to comprehend with more clarity both ourselves and the world. As a result, writing becomes an integrated practice of observing, (un)knowing, questioning, reflecting, understanding and theorizing thorough which students learn become a practitioner/writer in the ‘field’.
This paper draws upon writing activities undertaken at fieldtrips to UK museums (British Museum and Museum of London, London; Ashmolean Museum and Pit Rivers Museum, Oxford) by a cohort of lifelong learners studying prehistoric archaeology at University of London, UK. It promotes the benefits of observational writing in context as a route into the development of critical thinking and the articulation of it. The themes that emerge out of this reflexive approach to learning and writing that will addressed in this paper will include encounter, language and identity.
Keywords: Writing, Identity, Reflexivity, Archaeology, Museums
Teaching Fellow, Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching, University College London