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Importance of Reflection in Education and Learning

Particularly beneficial in the learning experiences is the practice of “informal education within a formal setting” which was designed with the primary intention of bringing learners and educators together, including the entire community of practitioners, writers and academicians (Leeds, 2009). This practice enables learners in the consolidation of theory and practice in an informal learning milieu which adds to the richness and diversity of learning. The informal setting is found to complement democratic and responsive learning experiences through newer ideas and practice in flexible and encouraging atmospheres, which can be useful in present and future practice (Leeds, 2009). When students are able to activate prior knowledge to the learning environment, instructors are able to construct new learning based on the present strength and ability of students (Correia and Robert, 2008). Since prior knowledge and understanding are believed to be crucial predictors of understanding and deriving meaning of the text, reflective learning enables the generation of new knowledge and understanding among students (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001).

Learning is a process which requires readers to engage in unfamiliar texts, which could be a hindrance to the active learning process. As such, theory and experiential practice facilitates an understanding of the text in which students can make connections through personal instances and conceptual learning. Keene and Zimmermann (1997) assert that learners engage in three distinct types of connections while they are involved in the process of learning including personal connections with the text, in text connections and connections of the text to the world. Research confirms that informal education and practice environments through reflective learning are highly beneficial to studies concerning youth work and working with children. The informal setting for reflective learning and practical experience is also beneficial in the development of novel insights which enhance the tradition of informal education (Leeds, 2009).

Attending conferences is also a vital aspect of the practice of reflective learning, especially the conference of informal education due to the extensiveness and strength of such innovative programs which are enriched by the unity and diversity of practitioners and all those engaged in the field of academics including writers, workers and policy makers. Such informal settings also help in the exploration of advantages of practical settings in the development of theory and practice which will be beneficial to such environments in future. These conferences and educative environments enable the reflective practice to be facilitated through processes which bring about changes in personal perspectives (Johns, 1999).  Such practice is crucial in the delivery of social programs related to youth justice because it is essential to seek durable solutions by providing preventive support programs in addition to guidance which will drive children and youth away from the vicious cycle of crime and custody (The Children’s Society, 2007). Reflective learning programs also enable local authorities and organizations to provide services and training programs in the delivery of solution which are specific to the individual and local needs of the target population (The Children’s Society, 2007).