Being Process-Oriented

In addition to the education/leadership specific books that I read this summer, there was one non-educational book that provoked me to think about education in new ways. The book is called 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick. I talks mostly about design from the perspective of an Architect and a university professor of the subject. While many of the lessons on perspective and drawing were interesting, there were some that I found directly applied to education. At times, all that was needed was to change the words design, building or scale to teaching, lessons, and outcomes. Here is one “thing learned in Architecture school” that I have adapted for the teacher (it was lesson 29). Nothing here is new, but I find that Frederick invited me to think about the subject in a way that was perhaps different than I am used to:

Being process-oriented, not product-driven, is the most important and difficult skill for a teacher to develop.

Being process-oriented means:

  1. seeking to understand an educational problem or a student before chasing the solution;
  2. not force-fitting solutions to old problems onto new problems;
  3. removing yourself from prideful investment in your lessons and being slow to fall in love with your ideas;
  4. making educational investigations and decisions holistically (that address several aspects of a learning problem at once) rather than sequentially (that finalize one aspect of a solution before investigating the next);
  5. making educational decisions conditionally – that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution;
  6. knowing when to change and when to stick with previous decisions;
  7. accepting as normal the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to do;
  8. working fluidly between specific learning outcomes and general learning outcomes to see how each informs the other;
  9. always asking “What if…?” regardless of how satisfied you are with the solution.

You can probably think of other aspects where these rules might also apply, for instance in leadership or relationships. Please leave your comments on what you thought. If you would like to pick up the book, it is published by The MIT Press.