“Study without reflection is a waste of time; reflection without study is dangerous.” -Confucius
Reflection is a critical and vital component of service-learning. Without reflection, individuals who participate in service-learning programs are less capable of working towards significant, informed, and valuable social change.
Think of service-learning without reflection as driving through rush hour traffic or drawing a blueprint to a hospital—in both cases, blindfolded. In your car you move, but not necessarily in a forward direction and you end up doing a lot of damage along the way without ever realizing the extent of your actions. With the blueprint, you create a plan for a hospital, but it is not necessarily detailed enough to provide all of the services required or to allow for quality construction. The hospital becomes a labyrinth of hallways with no doors, rooms with no windows, and doctors with no medicines or tools with which to treat patients.
Reflection removes the blindfold. It allows you to effectively move forward without crashing into things and it allows you to construct a program that responds to and addresses the ever-changing needs in the community of which you are a part. It allows people the chance to take a step back from their activities and re-examine the ways in which they participate in and interact with the various components of their program-- organizational structure, logistics, effectiveness in addressing need, assessing need, assessing the “big picture”.