This discussion has been closed.
Posted by U15531519 (U15531519) on Saturday, 16th February 2013
I'm really finding it difficult to come up with an idea for my personal/reflective folio essay. Can anyone give some ideas to stimulate my imagination. i've been thinking about it for so long and every time I come up with an idea it does not seem interesting enough to put down on paper. I would welcome any input to get me thinking on the right lines again.
Posted by bitesize_english_teacher (U15197928) on Thursday, 21st February 2013
Here are some general guidelines, followed by some more specific topic suggestions.
Obviously, choose something which you know about and which you have experienced. There should always be some sense of DEVELOPMENT in your thoughts, feelings and reactions. For example, if you write about a childhood experience, you might consider how you felt about it at the time, and then go on to show how, as you grew older, your thoughts and feelings changed and you had different feelings. A simple format might be to talk about an experience which at the time seemed a disaster but later turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
In general, as people grow up they come to realise that things are not as simple or clear-cut as they might appear, and this should be evident in the nature of your reflection. Often people can be inconsistent, and can have a range of different – even contradictory – feelings. If you can convey a sense of this complexity, you will be well on your way to achieving the depth of reflection required.
As with discursive/persuasive essays, there are certain overused topics which are best avoided. One is the subject of moving to a new school. Another, although it is a deeply personal issue, is the subject of a family member dying. Although this will be something which profoundly affects an individual, it is very difficult to write about such an experience in an original way.
A good way of getting ideas for an essay of this kind is to look at examples from journalism. Often weekend papers with supplement sections contain pieces of personal reflective writing that are similar to the required style in Higher English.
A typical example which appeared in one of last weekend’s newspapers can be found at:
In this article, the journalist talks about some of the problems of living alone. The points she makes might not be particularly relevant to someone younger sitting Highers. However, what is of interest is how she manages to combine the story of her experiences with personal reflection and wider reflection on the whole subject of living alone.
It would be worth cutting out, or printing out, an article of this kind and marking on it what you would consider to be the reflective passages. Then aim to take a similar approach in your own essay.
(b) More specific topic suggestions: here are six different ideas:
1. How do you escape from pressure and stress? Think of external and/or internal means of escape (i.e. external: going somewhere/undertaking some activity; internal: escape in the mind through reading, music, etc.) Start by describing the problem and then talking about the solutions.
2. A journey of discovery: this could be a literal or a metaphorical journey – or, ideally, both. A journey/trip could be the occasion of a learning experience/growing up/modifying your ideas and feelings.
3. Hopes and plans for the future: your personal goals and ambitions. How have these changed as you have grown older? Show that you have become increasingly aware of the complex nature of life and the challenges involved.
4. An experience of any kind which has taught you something/made you reassess your values and attitudes/helped you grow up/helped you cope with life, etc.
5. Your own values/beliefs and how they affect your approach to work/life/relationships/family/the future, etc.
6. A person who has had a profound influence on your life. Anecdotes [i.e. stories to illustrate a point]/advice the person gave you/why you admired him or her/how you have been influenced by him or her.
I have also put up a separate post on “What is expected in a Higher personal/reflective piece?” with further advice on what examiners are looking for.