Book of Ken (BoK)

Definition of KEN: one’s range of perception, knowledge or sight…

SYNONYMS: knowledge, awareness, perception, understanding, grasp, comprehension, realization, consciousness…


The intent of the BOK is to develop skills of critical thinking and reflective (self) awareness and to make critical connections between all that you are coming to know, not only within the course, but about yourself and the world around us. COVID-19 has an unimaginable effect on how we interaction with each other and experience the everyday world. It is important to provide a space for students to be able to reflect and integrate their experience of COVID-19 with that of their social work education.

As an assignment, your use and application of the BOK within the course is intended to:

foster your professional identity development; demonstrate your individual participation and engagement with the course material; facilitate a critically reflective practice approach and provide a space for you to reflect on what COVID-19 means for you on a personal and professional level.

The overall aim/objective (i.e. the result toward which these efforts are directed) is: …to move beyond your KEN!

Rationale & Relevance

The use of reflective journaling in higher education is an established pedagogical tool that facilitates both personal growth and professional development. Hubbs & Brand (2010; 2005) argue that ’students who master the skills of reflective journaling gain an ability to connect their internal processes with their external realities. The connecting of inner and outer world experiences is a process that demands self-awareness and self-knowledge necessary for…practice professions (p. 70). Stevens & Cooper (2009) assert two major principles of reflective journaling: (1) writing is thinking; and (2) [writing] practice builds fluency in writing and the motivation to write. Reflective writing and journal-keeping provides “concrete evidence of one’s evolving thought processes, documenting valuable, often fleeting glimpses of understanding” (p. x).

The BOK aspires to defy conventions of typical assignments through its freedom…and to offer a more creative, unfettered, unencumbered and unrestrained approach to the development your ideas and processes. It is hoped that you will consider the BOK as a container or vessel for you to sift, observe, question, sort and grab onto ideas, and to unpack the various intersections of all that you are coming to know and understand. Mostly, it is a place to PROCESS.

Some considerations & tips to get started

This is your first professional book: about your school work, your life, and how you organize and think about what you do. How do you begin?? Anne Lamott (1994) writes about writing in her book by the same name, suggests you start: “Bird by Bird”.

We encourage you to use every day: to keep it with you, to track your ideas and thinking, to note your observations of the world around and people around you. I think you might be surprised to see, feel and consider how the integration of your personal and professional selves evolve and develop. In this way, the BOK will also provide a secondary function your own data collection instrument for your processes at “being and becoming” the person and professional you aim to be. The BOK is not a collection of notes from the class lectures or readings. It is a sketchpad for ideas, thoughts, quotes, mantras or soundbites; use it as an opportunity to help you to consider personal reactions and responses, to “think for (with) yourself” and to PROCESS these ideas through creative expression – words, pictures, poems, drawings, collages, painting, colour, etc. and especially as related to the intersection of your personal-professional identity.

Expectations of Use

As we are seven different social work institutions the method will be adapted slightly to adjust for different courses, programs, cultures and circumstances. However here a few general guidelines.

  1. Where possible the BoK will be pen and paper; your institution will provide you with a blank spiral bound sketch book that is yours to keep.
  2. Bring your BOK to every class and online session.
  3. Make time to fill it in.
  4. Quality of entries: “A good journal entry is judged more by its willingness to take risks, to voice confusions, to explore undeveloped ideas…and the degree to which it furthers the development of voice…and perspective [taking]…” (Stevens & Cooper, 2009 p. 6).
  5. Your entries are private. You may be invited to share them in the focus group interviews