One of my hobbies is running. It has become a ritual part of my day and I really look forward to my routine. I love the crisp fall air, the scenery, and the time to clear my head and think in ways I am not allowed to when I am not running. The other day I was talking with a fellow I used to run races with and he told me he no longer enjoyed running because he was no longer competitive and he did not get the rush of finishing fast in a race. As I thought about what he told me, I became saddened that all running mean’t to him was finishing well or winning a race. I thought it was terrible he had given up running because the product was no longer the same for him. For me, running is more than finishing. It is a part of my day that I look forward to. I know, because of injuries, that it is a hobby that I really miss when I cannot get my daily run in. To me it is more than a race or a way of showing how fast I am (trust me, it is not pretty!), it is something that makes my life more rewarding. I think in so many ways our culture is too fixated the end of a process, getting the payoff, and does not pay enough attention to all the steps involved. I am convinced that our society has become so fixated on the final product, the end of a procedure, getting a grade, finishing a project that we forget the richness of the journey. Do we read a book to find out what happens at the end? If so, why do we not just read the end! Have we lost the wonderful sensation of being totally engrossed in a project and losing the concept of time, sleep and even hunger? I can remember teaching about a very interesting part of history or having a great discussion about Psychology and a student would ask me is this going to be on the test?…. and thinking to myself…is that all you really care about? I always hated reducing what we had done for two weeks in class to one page of terms and concepts that were going to be on the assessment for the unit. It seemed cheap. That the final part of the journey was simply a dry run through the information without looking at what had really been explored. Like running, learning is more than just the end product. If you look at the grade card, do you really know what has been learned? If you look at my running times (please don’t) will you really see how running affects me and what the journey of running does for me both physically and mentally? Learning is about trying and failing, regrouping and succeeding. It is collaborating, making relationships and networking. When I run, my practice looks a lot like a race…..or parts of one. Is our learning environment in school anything like what will be experienced outside of the schoolhouse walls? Will there be a study guide to help us prepare when the assessment is about getting the job done in our chosen profession. We spend a lot of our time teaching our students how to do high school and not enough time engaging them and preparing them to harness their passions to do something they enjoy while being productive. SOMETIMES I HAVE TO REMIND MYSELF….IT IS THE JOURNEY THAT IS IMPORTANT!