I recently heard this term called, “Occam’s Razor”, and I found it quite interesting:
Occam’s razor is a principle first developed by the Franciscan friar and philosopher, William of Ockham.
Whilst it is likely that the philosophy was posthumously attributed to him, as it was based upon common medieval philosophy, it seems to be a result of his minimalist lifestyle.
Occam’s razor is more commonly described as ‘the simplest answer is most often correct,’ although this is an oversimplification. The ‘correct’ interpretation is that entities should not be multiplied needlessly.
Yet in education, how often do we make things harder than they should be in service of our students?
With that being said, I made this simple “Education Decision Making” flowchart (first draft):
Should it really be more complex than this?
This is not to say that the conversations won’t get complicated. Having conversations ultimately on what is “best for the learner” will definitely have differing opinions. I guess the point of the initial prompt is that we are having the conversation in the first place. Are our solutions focused on what is best for the learner, or most comfortable for the adult?
It is also powerful to be able to identify that certain things don’t work for certain students, while others do. For example, have you ever worked with a student that had much better focus wearing headphones and listening to music? Wearing them they would seem to zone in on what they are doing and could create some amazing content. On the other hand, we all have worked with the student that if you gave them headphones and music, they would be utterly distracted and not be able to focus on anything. That is why the question starts with, “Is this best for the learner?”, not, “Is this best for the learners?” It identifies the needs of the individual learner, and it doesn’t standardize your classroom. Although “standardization” is impossible to avoid entirely, it should also not be the only way.
But not all “yes” answers are easy. There are many things that would serve our students in a much more powerful way but does that mean we don’t even pursue them? I always tell people that “somebody, somewhere, is doing the same thing that you say you can’t do.” Simply put, they are finding a way. They identify the barriers and then find the solutions. This is the process of “Problem-Finding/Problem-Solving”; we want our students to have BOTH abilities, not just one or the other. We should model that in our process on how we make decisions within our organizations.
This “flowchart”, as all things I create, should be more of a conversation starter than anything. I hope it actively pushes people to identify what students need and then look at ways we can provide them. Yes, the hurdles might be a lot to overcome, but they can be overcome. It is all about our mindset toward the problem in the first place. If we believe it is best, we need to find a way.