We have an awkwardly designed kitchen from the 50s. At least, that’s how it seems to us who live in the 21st century. I have to turn around 180 degrees to go from the stove to the counter.
There is very little that is streamlined. Often, my husband will watch my awkward attempts at serving dinner and bring the pot of food to the counter to fix things.
Why do I mention my kitchen habits? For the simple reason that my clumsy cooking habits, no doubt created by my kitchen, often find an echo in some odd teaching habits I see around me.
I have already written about how some will pick a curriculum just because it’s difficult. But here I want to write about we tend to overcomplicate teaching some things when the truth is we need to keep it simple.
The Shortest Distance Between Two Points
Simplification is the essence of teaching. Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The problem is sometimes we do – we do understand it. But we want to explain it four different ways to make sure they understand it.
I suggest we stop. Pick one way that you think is easiest and explain it. If, and only if, it doesn’t make sense that way, try another.
This is especially true in math. But it is equally true in history.
In our Common Core culture, we rush to give multiple ways of solving math problems, multiple narratives of history and a thousand perspectives on what happened, depending on where you were standing.
This is often unnecessary and complicates things.
Keep it Simple
Especially in the younger years, when we’re dealing with the grammar stage, keep it simple. The time for nuance and multiple perspectives will come with the logic and especially in the rhetoric stage.
Just stick with the facts for now, and keep it simple. If something can be learned through play or simple concepts, don’t rush to make it academic.
In other words, if it works, leave it alone. Keep teaching as simple as it can be and no simpler.