Quotes and Excerpts

"Process over Content"

 What does it mean?

Skip down to Chart illustrating New Age transformation

Emphasis added to each comment below

British researcher Mona McNee summarizes the process:

Process over content has been around in Britain for 20 years. If you are going through the right motions, it does not matter if you get the wrong answer!  ... The curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored. It’s OK to be ignorant, so long as you have fun and the right attitudes.

Education researcher Donna Garner (wgarner1@hot.rr.com) explains it well:

"Plain and simple -- 'process-over-content' means no right or wrong answers.  This is the philosophy which was implemented through the National Center  on Education and the Economy (NCEE) run by Marc Tucker, Hillary Clinton, Ira Magaziner, and Mario Cuomo.  The NCEE in the early 1980's drove the standards movement, flooded into every state in the U. S. through Goals 2000, captured the schools' day-to-day instruction, and turned it into 'process-over-content.' No longer do our nation's schools emphasize right answers.  The process has become the important focus.  This is what explains fuzzy math where students go through an elongated process and write essays about this process.  This is what explains the lack of attention to right-or-wrong grammar, an emphasis on invented spelling, integrated social studies instead of history, the reading of shallow literature instead of the time-honored classics, personal victimization narratives rather than persuasive/expository composition built upon solid content, etc.  Mushy, foggy, non-exact process-over-content -- 

"Process-over-content is a little faster term than the one I have used for years, but let me spell out the entire issue.  This is what the NCEE brought about:  Our nation's schools moved from knowledge-based, academic content, objectively tested, right-or-wrong answers TO performance-based, cognitive domain (opinions, feelings, emotions), subjectively assessed, multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, environmental extremism, homosexuality. 
"We now have twenty years of indoctrinated people who have come through the NCEE-influenced public schools where as students, these people learned to glorify their opinions, feelings, and emotions over logical, content-based thinking.  What are we seeing in our society?  What are we seeing among our voters?  What are we seeing in our churches?  People honestly think that if their feelings are hurt, then the laws must be changed for them.  If a person perceives that someone has said something "hateful" about him, then the 'world is supposed to stop' while all the rules are changed to suit him. 
Instead of churches trying to teach their young people the Biblical basis for purity and the consequences of sexual activities, many churches have decided teens just cannot control their feelings and emotions and, thus, are backing Planned Parenthood.  These churches have begun to support such feel-good causes as AIDS for Africa (with an emphasis on contraceptives rather than on abstinence), poverty, global warming seminars, and environmental responsibility rather than teaching the Biblical basis for personal responsibility, a solid work ethic, self-discipline, natural consequences of bad choices, and self-control.  These same churches spend the majority of their time on social ministries with short-term results rather than on heart-changing ministries where people can learn to lean upon God and see long-term results.  I believe the liberal Baptist conference just held in Atlanta last week is a direct outgrowth of the falling-away of the church. For this conference to have given the microphone to Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore indicates just how far down the slippery slope the church is moving.
"The Nov. 2006 election began to show the deep fissure which has developed in our country.  The number of people who are voting based upon their feelings rather than upon their knowledge of the facts has reached critical mass.  Are the voters looking for candidates who have solid and well-documented platforms; or are they supporting those candidates who say the 'sweetest,' most people-pleasing things? 
"May God have mercy upon our land."


    New Age author Marilyn Ferguson outlined this paradigm shift in The Aquarian Conspiracy.  It was sobering to see that the changes she sought in the seventies had become reality in the nineties. Now, in 2008, they have transformed churches as well as schools.

    Study her chart below.  Notice, in the first comparison, how she differentiates between the old paradigm's "right" information and the new paradigm's "right things." To shift from the left to the right side, teachers as well as children must be made "open to" new concepts.  




Emphasis on content, acquiring a body of "right" information, once and for all.

Emphasis on learning how to learn... pay attention to the right things, be open to and evaluate new concepts, have access to information....

Hierarchical and authoritarian structure.

Egalitarian. Candor and dissent permitted.

Emphasis on the "appropriate ages for certain activities"

Flexibility and integration of age groupings.

Priority on performance.

Priority on self-image as the generator of performance.

Emphasis on external world. Inner experience often considered inappropriate in school setting.

Inner experience seen as context for learning. Use of imagery, storytelling, dream journals, "centering" exercises, and exploration of feelings encouraged.

Emphasis on analytical, linear... thinking.

Augments left-brain rationality with holistic, nonlinear, and intuitive strategies.


The next statement is from A Course in Miracles. As you probably know, its occult message (“dictated” by a spirit guide) is now popularized by Oprah Winfrey and Marianne Williamson.

The online version of its Chapter 11states:  

"It is impossible not to believe what you see, but it is equally impossible to see what you do not believe. Perceptions are built up on the basis of experience, and experience leads to beliefs. It is not until beliefs are fixed that perceptions stabilize. In effect, then, what you believe you do see."

It sounds like today’s strategic process of transformation – whether in schools, churches, government, corporations…. The people are immersed in the "right kind" of experiences such as community service, captivating books and movies, classroom role-playing, a “new story”....  These innocuous experiences guide the minds of the gullible. They plant new perceptions and shaped new beliefs in "open" minds, then affirm the new perceptions through the dialectic process. The planned outcome is a manageable, collective society. And the foundational belief is unity and universalism: Everything is interconnected. All is One. 

The next quote complements all the above:

Critical Perspectives on Christian Education: A Reader: “A thorough analysis of enculturation within a congregation would be difficult. Such an analysis is complicated by the realization that formation places experience before reflection and therefore requires an understanding of the experiences persons have within the life of the church, or better, how they perceive their experiences. Formation emphasizes process over content; in fact, it reminds us that the way we learn is what we learn. Formation also focuses its attention on the community and its life rather than on an individual, all of which makes understanding and being mindful about enculturation in the church difficult. Further, formation requires intentional communal life.”  (By Jeff Astley, Leslie J. Francis, Gracewing Publishing, 1994, p. 71)

Compare this statement by Steven Kosser (sakossor@voicenet.com) with the New Age plan shown in the chart above:

In 1960, Jack Kennedy became famous for saying "Some people see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I see things that never were, and ask 'Why not?" And in the blink of an eye, it became more important to fantasize than analyze. Educators have been making bank on it ever since. The "process over content" movement is just the latest incarnation of this; all of us under 50 were steeped in it, and it's now almost impossible to recognize the extent to which we are being led by perceptions over content....

"Looking at content, the American presidential candidates stand in sharp contrast. Looking at process, they all have 'merit' and the only thing that separates them is one's own ideology. ...there is a 'script' and the one who reads it best, with the most feeling, gets elected."

Education researcher Mary McGarr's 1995 experience illustrates the confusion parents face today:

"I recall vividly the night at a board meeting in 1995 when a science teacher from my son's high school appeared before the board to report on the science curriculum.  She pointed out to us that we had changed from a knowledge-based science curriculum to a 'performance-based' science curriculum. She kept on going, and I didn't interrupt her, but after the meeting I stopped her to ask what she meant.  She quite clearly explained it all to me with a look on her face that said, 'Help!' ... Obviously I was not able to offer any help because I was outnumbered by dolts, but I tried. Good teachers knew from the outset that something was amiss.

Finally, let's go back to Donna Garner. Her statement below deals with specific issues in Texas, but her observation and concerns are relevant to everyone:

"The main problem with the Writing and Research/Inquiry documents is that they represent the 'process-over-content' philosophy of education.  How terribly unfortunate because this is the same philosophy which infiltrated the present ELAR/TEKS and has slurped up the majority of classroom time, stealing valuable hours in which students should have been focusing on gaining content knowledge instead of wading through process-based projects.  We must change the direction of the new ELAR/TEKS and not repeat the same sorry tale of woe which has governed our Texas schools for the last ten years. "

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