“A complex system, contrary to what people believe, does not require complicated systems and regulations and intricate policies. The simpler, the better. Complications lead to multiplicative chains of unanticipated effects.”Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, p. 11
One of my most helpful weaknesses is that I have a simple mind. I'm not able to hold complicated systems or regulations or policies in my head. Common sense is about all I have.
When I started blogging the Common Core in 2012, I was drawn to its top-level structures — the introduction, the anchor standards, the research appendix — and repelled by its grade-specific laundry lists.
When I began reading the professional development literature, I was drawn to The Godfather of Simplification, Mr. Mike Schmoker. The “Here's a Thousand Strategies” professional development books and sessions made my head spin. They still do.
When I started thinking deeply about the teacher-writer life, I was drawn to the folks who've simply been doing it from the classroom for years — people like Jim Burke. Theirs was a simple and deep model.
Every time I start veering away from simplicity, I can feel it in my chest. It's like one of those little plastic jaw toys, winding up, winding up, winding up. Eventually, the tightness is enough to send me into crazy mode, chattering on obnoxiously, seeking to do way more than is needed or wise.
And then, my energy expended, I return to rest and simplicity.
Was all the chattering necessary? No. As we mature, we should be less like a wind-up, chattering toy and more like a professional.
This is one of the biggest challenges that schools face when creating school improvement plans or PBIS protocols or curricula. How do we keep things as simple as they can possibly be?