To the Editor:
Often concepts come as complements to each other, where the word is defined as “something that completes or makes perfect.” The classic example are the concepts “being” and “becoming.” The educational philosopher Maxine Greene once told me: “I am what I not yet am,” and I think this is as good an explanation of complements as we could wish for.
Marc Prensky’s Commentary “The Goal of Education Is Becoming,” brought this to mind again. For the child, education is a huge part of her or his “becoming.” It struck me that when thinking about education, or cooking, or many other things, the process has a complement: the product. The delight of complements is that they offer two ways of describing the same thing, two different lenses, so to speak. It makes good sense to use both.
Mr. Prensky imagines how many different personas a child can “become” besides ready for college or career; I imagine how many processes schools might employ to achieve the products that match those becomings. I think both he and I are equally discouraged to find that policy is so fixated on the products, rather than the process, that students are simply numbers related to tests that may be related only to academic capacity. We can only understand education when we broaden our conceptual structures to include becomings and processes.
Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Manaus Fund
Senior Adviser, Valley Settlement Project
A version of this article appeared in the June 04, 2014 edition of Education Week as Education ‘Product’ and ‘Process’ Are Linked, Yet Separate