WHAT IS A PROCESS PERSPECTIVE ON
TEACHING AND LEARNING?
Malcolm D. Evans
The educators and philosophers who have written the essays in this book have a process perspective on their educational practices. In this chapter you will explore what is meant by that phrase. If asked, each of the authors would offer you a different definition of a process perspective. The anecdotes, shared experiences, and commentary of the several authors will reveal in part, the nature of a process perspective in educational contexts. Let me offer a working definition that may be helpful to you, especially if process philosophy and its related process perspective are new to you. A process perspective on education is an outlook on the particulars of teaching and learning that reflects an awareness and internalization of selected core process philosophy concepts. In the sections below I will discuss these concepts as axioms of process thought that may be helpful to you as you read the essays comprising this book. The core concepts are: (1) becoming is a process; (2) creativity is in all creatures; (3) the world is interconnected; (4) all experience is emotional; and (5) all individuals are constituted by their internal relations.
A process perspective is an outlook that is neither simple nor easily acquired. Reflection on some of the basic concepts and on your personal experience with the actualities implied by the concepts is necessary. As you read this chapter and this book you will confront some new values and you may modify others. You will find that simply being aware of a process perspective is, itself, a process that will affect your professional posture. Such a process is quite obviously personal and singular. A process perspective cannot be imposed—it must be felt.
Of the many philosophical concepts that I might bring into this discussion on a process perspective, the one that is highly relevant for educators is becoming. Rarely do educators think of students as becoming. Yet, after a moment of reflection, you will agree that what is wanted is for them to become something: improved writers, better mathematicians, finer craft persons, responsible citizens. Students are learners who become more competent, more understanding, more insightful, and more imaginative. They are in a process of becoming, in myriad ways, at every moment. At our hands, before our eyes, students are