One of my big take-aways was this idea of complexity. Complexity in the sense of the kinds of problems/situations/scenarios we are asking kids to grapple with in classrooms and in terms of the complexity of being an effective teacher. And, the idea that there is a differentiation between complex and complicated. It may just be semantic, but to me, complex connotes layered (like an onion, or an ogre- according to Shrek) and able to be deconstructed. However, in my opinion, complicated comes with it the potential for the feelings of frustration associated with confusion.
As there were two big aspects of complexity that I really seized upon this summer, I think it is important to discuss them separately. In this post, I will discuss what I've been thinking about in terms of complexity for students.
Classroom Complexity for Students
In the IBMYP, we are also required to organize our units and content around concepts. These concepts are broad, organizing ideas that may transcend disciplines. I like to think of them as file drawers with different names on them in your head. For example, one of the drawers would be called "systems" and each time the idea of systems comes up in science, that is another file that can be added to that particular drawer. For example, cells are mini-systems, the solar system, ecosystems, etc. If you are clear about the idea of systems in general, when faced with governmental systems in Humanities or systems of grammar in language class, you can more easily make connections between different topics in different disciplines.
However, if we are just telling kids content information, and not asking them to transfer the information and apply it to novel situations, there really is no need for the concepts because the complexity is gone. I have been thinking so much lately how having concepts (again, broad, organizing ideas that transcend disciplines) to help you simplify the complexity is critical. But, where to even start with this in the classroom?