Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Play, and the Privileging of Process over Product


Serendipitous, really ,that I read this recent post on Hybrid Pedagogy entitled ‘Exploring the Dungeon: the importance of “play” to learning‘ (by Jeff Everhart) just as i was thinking of writing this post. I won’t comment on the entire article, but on the part relevant to this post: learning as process vs product

So I’ve written a lot about the topic, and still I get into conversations where people say, yeah yeah fine, so focusing on process is great, but you do care about the product, too! It’s important. Well, yes and no. Do you mean long term or short term? Because short term, I honestly don’t care about product. It’s how focusing on process helps student learning (including “product”) long term that matters

My point is, the focusing on the process does two things (mentioned vy Jeff Everhart) that are important for the long-term learning of students:
1. Everhart suggests that using play in our classes should encourage students to want to learn beyond what we require of them. To me, this “goal” can only be achieved by focusing on their process of engaging with the learning, so they could be motivated to do it later on their own, for…
2.. (Continue from previous para) Their own goals. Everhart makes the distinction here that you rarely see: he talks about going beyond student-centered and towards student-created/produced goals.

There is greater learning value (obvious to me, anyway) in helping students both practice creating their own (learning) goals and building their curiosity/motivation to go out on their own and learn outside any goals or structures we as educators have in place for them. Aren’t those the larger goals of education? If so, why aren’t we doing more of this? As I commented on Everhart’s post, I believe play is one way of achieving this, but not the only way.

The “product” that matters, then, is the student’s own self-defined goal, and as educators, if we wish to equip them to meet those goals, is to focus on process, something they may use again and learn from failing at, rather than focus on some arbitrary end “product” we define outside our students’ world/choice/desires.

Would love to hear what others think.

P.S. And so, strangely, the whole rhizo14 autoethnography, to me, is a wonderful exercise in process, whatever end product each of us ends up wanting to create with it. The longer it takes us to decide (and there need not be a final product that we “stop” at) the more interesting the conversations about it are. The process of creating the raw data in itself was valuable, to me, anyway.


  1. Pingback: Critical Pedagogy: Intentions and Realities - Hybrid Pedagogy

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