Saturday afternoon I browsed the new non-fiction books at my local public library and came across I Married a Travel Junkie by Samuel Jay Keyser. Seemed like the perfect Spring Break staycation book, since I am a travel lit junkie. As I enjoyed traveling vicariously with the author and his wife to all sorts of exotic locales and experienced second-hand some amazing adventures, I came across a concept put forth by Keyser that stuck with me – some people are process-oriented (travel junkie) and enjoy the journey while other people are goal-oriented (the author) and just want to reach the destination.
Midway through Spring Break, as I try to balance my reading time, I can see things coming together in interesting ways. In response to some frustration I was experiencing in the classroom, one of my colleagues with whom I regularly connect on Twitter, Bill Chapman, pointed me in the direction of a book by Bruce Lesh, Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answers? (Come to find out Lesh happens to teach at one of my local public schools). As I have been reading the book, it occurred to me that what Lesh is really talking about is the process of historical investigation rather than the goal of the answer. This makes perfect sense and lines up with a great piece Bill wrote about the right process v. the right answer.
I wonder if it is as important to know whether our students are process-oriented or goal-oriented as it is to know whether they are visual, kinesthetic or aural learners. We can blame past history classes for rewarding them for answers rather than process or the system that emphasizes a final grade, but part of the challenge may be dispositional as well. If that is the case, we need to be prepared for putting students in a place that they may never quite embrace. We have to articulate the importance of process, acknowledge their discomfort and take them along on the trip anyway knowing, like Keyser, that it is better than being left behind.