Process vs Outcome

Outcome Orientation

From kindergarten on, the focus of schooling is usually on goals rather than on the process by which they are achieved. This single-minded pursuit of one outcome or another, from tying shoelaces to getting into Harvard, makes it difficult to have a mindful attitude about life.

When children start a new activity with an outcome orientation, questions of "Can I?" or "What if I can't do it?" are likely to predominate, creating an anxious preoccupation with success or failure rather than drawing on the child's natural, exuberant desire to explore. Instead of enjoying the colour of the crayon, the designs on the paper, and a variety of possible shapes along the way, the child sets about writing a "correct" letter A.

Process Orientation

In contrast, a process orientation asks "How do I do it?" instead of "Can I do it?" and this directs attention toward defining the steps that are necessary on the way. This orientation can be characterized in terms of the guiding principle that there are no failures, only ineffective solutions.

The style of education that concentrates on outcomes generally also presents facts unconditionally. This approach encourages mindlessness. If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration.

Such a single-minded way of viewing the world can generalize to virtually everything we do. By teaching absolutes we pass our culture from one generation to the next. It brings stability. But ... the cost may be high.

[Ellen Langer]
Mindfulness, p.33, 34, 35

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[...] goals energize and direct people's activities in organized ways [and] serve to engage the activities of those who adopt them.

These views implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) convey the sense that goals give meaning to people's lives. 

Each of these notions emphasizes the fact that understanding a person means understanding the person's goals. Indeed, it's often implicit in these theories that the self is made partly of the person's goals and the organization among them [...]

[C.S. Carver & M.F. Scheier]
On the Self-Regulation of Behavior, p. 65


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Related posts:-
Life in (Spontaneous) Action
Learning Environments
Per-Fiction
Guiding Fiction
The Pursuit of Happiness 
Live in the Now

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