Mindset of Why and Not of the Tool or Product

Thank you to Jasmine Escalante for putting into words what we are living.  Tinkering “builds problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as “grit” and perseverance.”  Schools in BC are continuing down the path of making, building, tinkering as a mind shift in learning how as the goal, not learning what.

The BC Ministry of Education has the new K-9 curriculum (curriculum.gov.bc.ca) in optional implementation this year and the 10 -12 in draft.  The reduction of the content outcomes and increase on the process outcomes frees teachers to spend more time tinkering.  Many of us have focused for years on the process knowing that research shows the long term learning of the what will be stronger.  There needed to be a risk taking mentality of teachers to not push through with delivering the required content, to enabling learners to understand the content by going slower to build deeper understandings.

I find it gratifying to have a name to anchor the value of exploring, making mistakes, trial and error to build understanding.  Often in our own practice we do what we know is right because we have ‘tinkered’ with the methods to best reach our students where they are at and where they need to be.

Pulling from Jasmine’s blog post …  Tinkering refocuses the mindset on the Why?

“How have those learning opportunities helped students develop a diverse skill set and the social-emotional qualities to reach those expectations? As an educator, whether you teach in a classroom, are an administrator, counselor, librarian, or even a leader in an after school program, you have the power to provide students with the gift of time to explore, practice, and hone those skills.”

“Technology opens the door to a plethora of tools and resources that foster social learning, investigation through open-ended questions, differentiation to meet the needs of all students, and personalization for deeper learning that is relevant, purposeful, and driven by the interests of students.”

and finally,  the conclusion resonates beautifully with my beliefs around teaching and learning.

“Tinkering is not about the product, it’s about the process. Enjoy the journey and don’t focus so much on having a spiffy product that the students can present. There is a time and a place for presenting, but true integration is about the journey and what was learned along the way. Tinkering is messy, but fosters deeper learning because the students are doing the thinking.”

It can be a challenge to stick with the messiness of the process.  It also leads to deep questions about assessment.  I get asked, “If I don’t care about the product, how can I assess it?”  The beautiful question I respond with is “What is the learning you are trying to assess?”  I think moving from an expected product in an expected time frame makes sure we can’t use the product as the only evidence of learning.  The move to student portfolios is helping allow for capturing process as well as students to reflect on the process with images of the process and the product.  Rather than summarizing a series of marks to output learning as a grade, we can return to the original sources and have the learning reflected in many ways.


Quotes from


by Jasmine Escalante

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