Our world is very outcomes orientated. If you have a paid job I am pretty confident you are assessed on what you get done or even back in the day at school this is how we were assessed – and it is easy to take that attitude into our homeschooling. We want our kids to learn so we assess them on what work they get completed. But one of the lessons I learnt as a homeschool mum is that the process is as important as the product, actually it might even be a little more significant.
Learning is a process, not a product.
It is in the process of producing something that we learn.
Watch for true learning.
When we focus on the product we work towards getting it done. The workbook needs to be finished, regardless of real comprehension. The project gets finished regardless of opportunities to dig deeper. The book is read regardless of enjoyment or answering questions along the way. All that matters is that the task is ticked off as done. We measure success by the number of ticks, by the finished product.
When we focus on the process though we understand that learning is happening as you do it –
- as you think about the worksheet questions,
- as you take risks and try new things with the project,
- as you ask questions and dig deeper while reading a book.
The process of learning is all the thinking and questioning and trying new skills that happen as you complete the work or project.
The key for us as the homeschool teacher is to find the balance. If you only focus on the process, finishing stuff may never happen and there is value in finishing a workbook, project, book. If you focus on the product then the discovery and joy of learning may be undervalued and overlooked.
Our problem is that we live in an all-or-nothing world. We are going to be product-people or process-people, we are going to be task-orientated or heart-focused. But it needn’t be all of one, and none of the other.
I can still value the process as we work towards finishing the product. That is the balance. Keeping my eyes on the process, enjoying the learning as we go along, value the learning as it happens, maybe removing the deadline for completing the project, but still aiming to complete it.
Otherwise our children will have a trail of uncompleted projects in their wake. This surely can’t be good training (but it is unfortunately something that we struggled with in our homeschool). We were really good at starting, and not so good at finishing. I often justified this because I was focusing on the process – and while we used the resource, read the book, worked on the project, learning was happening. That was my objective – all was good.
Looking back now I see a bigger picture: yes, learning was happening but…
- Unfinished projects create a lack of gratefulness, and a lack of thriftiness as the next project is readily available
- Unfinished projects develop a habit of moving on when things get too hard instead of persevering
- Unfinished projects are un-motivating – they hang around you reminding you of unfinished business.
And where I’m saying ‘projects’ I mean a course of study, a book we were reading, or a hands on project; any task that we undertook as a learning experience.
So the reminder is: Don’t be so process-focused that you forget the product. And don’t be so product-focused that you forget the learning along the way.
A finished project is something to celebrate and reward – it represents hard work and learning. Just don’t push it so much that you forget to celebrate the learning and effort that it takes to get there.
But then again – sometimes we do just need to move on. We’ve reached the end of our objectives, maybe completing this project to its perfect end isn’t our goal.
Don’t be dictated to by one or the other.
Process of Learning – Product of learning – Keep both in balance.
Always remember the process – and keep in mind the benefit of the product.
Over to you:
Do you get pressured to focus on the end product and rush over the real learning going on? Have you learnt something that helps you slow down and enjoy the learning going on in your homeschool? Love to hear from you…
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