Keeping a journal makes me rethink what I have read or seen on a screen as a part of the class content and often helps to understand the meaning of a book or a movie better. A journal is a great way to keep reflection of all my thoughts and feeling about the covered material. I have a feeling that with time I become more confident in my writing skills, as well as analytical thinking, and develop an eye for even more subtle details.
It is interesting to read a journal entry over again, sometimes already with a different perspective. When writing about a certain character, I am forced to recollect the events, motives, and circumstances more carefully. Sometimes I change my opinion while writing or realize that a small piece of information is more significant than I originally thought.
Writing a journal turned out to be quite useful for my creative and analytical skills, but even more valuable is rereading my previous entries and see how my understanding of a particular character or event changes with time. Some things become more meaningful, some less. It also gives me an opportunity to improve my writing, formulate arguments more skillfully, and communicate my point of view more persuasively.
The journal definitely helped me to understand books and movies we have discussed during the class even more and go into depth of the material. In the journal entries, I try to describe every idea in larger, more meaningful context. Thinking critically, I must say, is at times hard work. Understanding of some things and characters comes easily, while with others I have to struggle, but overall keeping journal entries helps to see a broader picture and meaning, sometimes hidden between lines, the authors try to convey.
I am convinced that journal is an essential exercise for learning and self-improvement. Improvement in thinking can occur after many practices, just like improvement in swimming, for example. Improvement in thinking requires hard work, just like improvement in any other discipline. I try not to take critical thinking for granted and do all work required for improvement.