Product vs. Process?
December 19, 2017
A key element of school improvement, and of education in general, is that school and the learning that students experience while at school should be more authentic. That's easy, and I think most would agree that increased authenticity is probably a good thing.
So I'm continually surprised by what I hear from educators about "process vs. product." I've seen it on Twitter and heard it at conferences: having students engage in "the process" is more important than "developing a product." This is an interesting perspective, given the very vocal requests for making education "more real-world" and learning experiences more relevant. In a profession that seeks applicability and authenticity at every turn, it's a perspective that should be rethought.
Because in the real world, you make stuff.
In the world beyond school, process exists to produce a real tangible product or solution, and that's generally beyond a diorama, a poster, a brochure or a play-doh model of an animal cell (insert jello for play-doh if you wish). As an example, my clients don't hire me just to engage them in a process, they're expecting something of value to be produced that helps them move forward. And when you tell me that teaching process to skill-build is what is most important, I'll counter by asking to what end are you building skills? What will they be employed to do? To produce...a product?
Everything you use in your life on a daily basis...from your phone, to your car, to the clothes you wear, to the food you eat is a product that results from some type of process. Intentionally separating the two creates an artificial construct since the reality of our daily experience tells us they are connected and inseparable.
There is no need to have process and product compete. Both are equally important and necessary and should be a focus of a contemporary student learning experience.