Philosophy is intrigued with the “ends” versus the “means.” This distinction is valuable in every area of life. “Means” refers to the journey taken to reach the desired goal – also known as the process — while “ends” refers to the destination itself – also referred to as the outcome. Growing up, people are generally concerned with where they will end up. Children are asked what they want to be in the future. One is rarely ever asked how they plan to get there.
Athletes spend many hours training for that special occasion: World Cup, Super Bowl, Olympics, World Series, etc. Spectators generally do not get to see all the preparation that goes into making the final product; however, for the athlete, the process is extremely important. Spectators do not care much about the process but put their focus on the final product — who wins the World Cup, Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series. When athletes fall in love with the destination and not the journey, disaster follows. We’ve seen this with Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, and Shane Warne, to name a few – people who have failed drug tests and were subsequently banned from their respective sports. The win-at-all-cost mentality has led to the demise of many athletes.
In education, the process is just as important. Preparation is key to obtaining the desired result. However, many education systems put too much emphasis on the destination, which has led to the lack of development of its students. For example, there are teachers who focus on the answers to a math problem rather than the steps it takes to get there. This lack of focus on the process trickles down into the overall reasoning of the students. Not only will this impact students’ understanding of math, but also their understanding of all other subjects.
For education to advance, we need to focus on the right things. Let’s put more emphasis on the journey rather than the destination. Let’s also ask our students more questions and give fewer answers. When we place emphasis on the right things and teach our students that the process is as important as the outcome, we will see an increase in the level of thinking and overall educational productivity of our students. Fall in love with the process because it helps you to enjoy the outcome.