All students, in virtually all contexts, need to be able to engage in certain processes, no matter what their particular lives are like. If there is a sine qua non of education it must be these universal processes, not a set of particular facts. There are three processes that are more important than any others, and any curriculum must teach them. However, it is critical that these processes be taught indirectly, embedded in scenarios that are themselves primarily targeted at teaching specific scriptlets and cases. The three processes are:
What does it mean to learn these processes? Clearly, learning a process is different than acquiring a scriptlet. A scriptlet can be easily described as a set of steps and those steps can be practiced so they become routine and require little or no thought to execute. Since scriptlets are prescriptions for action we can meaningfully talk about their execution. The same is not true of processes.
It sounds odd to say that someone knows how to do "human relations." We can say they know how to communicate or how to reason, although it is very difficult to specify what we mean when we say such things. Clearly we are not talking about scriptlets here. It would be very difficult to specify a set of procedures that form a package called "communication." Being able to get along with others or to think about a new problem may have some executable procedures, but it also seems to entail a great many more fuzzy concepts such as being nice or trying unusual solutions that are a great deal more difficult to quantify.
The word "process" here sheds little light on these phenomena in the same way that "skill" sheds little light on what it was that we wanted people to know how to do. As with "skill" the word "process" can encompass too much. There are many phenomena that can be called processes. There are political processes, economic processes, scientific processes, and so on. What these ideas have in common is that they refer to complex sets of forces that come into play and require more of their participants than a simple knowledge of how to execute certain simple procedures.
The phenomena they represent are complex and are often not given to clear procedures that can be guaranteed to work. There is one way to send e-mail and program the VCR. There are known solutions to braking a car, riding a bike, or making toast. But for what we have been labeling processes there are often no good answers or, alternatively, many good answers.
Where am I in the content of the book?