Complicated to Complex…

We used to live in a world that was complicated. In order to fight the complications, we devised wonderful reductionist methods.

That is largely what our education system is still trying to accomplish. The fact is now, we live in a complex not complicated world. There is a huge difference.

Complicated things have parts. An engine has a lot of parts. It can be very confusing (definitely is for me!), but it CAN be broken down and can be understood individually how it is tied to the whole.

Complexity is vastly different in that it involves interactions between things, creating inter-dependencies that make predictions extremely difficult. Think about the weather. One variable can often significantly alter the course of a storm.

I have tried to embrace this in my teaching practice. I do not sit in front of a class, lecture, break it down into little pieces to be tested on multiple choice exams. No.

I mange complexity. I facilitate personalized learning. Every student on a different plan — of their own choosing co-constructed with a teacher. I have to manage this complexity, see where connections can be made between fellow students and the outside community, recommend pathways of learning, follow up, build teams, contact experts, and more.

This is much different from assigning a textbook passage with an accompanying worksheet. Things are moving too fast and becoming too complex for a solo teacher to control an entire classroom’s learning process. Instead, both student and teacher have to partner to manage the complexity. It truly is a 50/50 split.

This is a gigantic shift. We are all feeling it. Massive disruptions are occurring due to the sheer number of interactions that are happening. Education is moving so slow. Everything else is moving so fast, becoming more and more complex. We must prepare the kids for this high speed learning environment. That means a focus on skills and connecting the dots instead of collecting them.