The Map is Not the Territory

Brief Overview:

When we look at a map, we are looking at an abstract thing, we are not looking at the place itself. This one is big in the finance world (and I think absolutely missing in the Education world!) in which you have to understand that the forecasts and predictions you are using are not 100 percent going to happen (even if people are telling you that they are). They are not the thing that they are trying to explain. This also has to do with Mental Models. All of our models are abstractions of some thing, some way of looking at a problem and at the world. When we use one a couple of times and it works, we start to think it is foolproof. It ain´t. This is why we must have a wide array of strategies and tools and implementing as many as we can, as often as seems prudent.

Classroom Connection:

As a brief aside, this has been the most important mental model for me, and I am working on a blog post that covers more of my thoughts on this when it comes to education. 

I am thinking any sort of student data can fit into this category. We have to remember that those numbers are an abstract representation of that complex human that resides in your classroom.

Video Reflection:


Second-Order Thinking

                                Brief Overview:

Photo by  ALP STUDIO  on  Unsplash

Photo by ALP STUDIO on Unsplash

Imagine for a moment a pebble in your hand. Your hand hovering over a pond. You gently unclasp your hand and let the pebble fall, ever so, into the pond. What happens? You get ripples. Plural. A lot of times we make decisions we barely even think about what might be one ripple effect, let alone a second, third, nth effect. This is what second-order thinking is. You map out just what might happen (both positive and negative...WHAT?! A negative effect from one of our grand decisions??!) so that you acknowledge the different possible outcomes out there. 

Another important part of this is to make sure you revisit decisions that have been made, to see if there were any ripples that may have popped up that you weren´t expecting.

Classroom Connection:

This one stresses me out! Just think of all the interventions we do, the responses that we create, the reactions that come out of us, and all of the ripples that we create, every, single, day. So just start with one. If you intervene with a student, might their be negative consequences? What if your intervention is one that has to happen at home, after school. What if the student in question has a TON of stuffing going on outside of school and your intervention is something they have to do at night, before they go to bed. A suppose, just for a moment, that they have to stay up later than normal, to work on this wondrous intervention. And now multiply that by two weeks (or four, however long your intervention is ((it´s not the whole year is it?)). Is this student worse off, because they are tired and not getting enough sleep and so they are missing out on other information that they are unable to learn because their brain is not functioning at optimal levels...and so they need another intervention...

A Video Reflection:


Hanlon´s Razor

Photo by  Heather Mount  on  Unsplash

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Brief Overview:

Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. We have a tendency to think people do things to us on purpose. That time someone cut us off in traffic...bum! The lady who shortchanged us on our bill...thief! The HR department not telling you before hand when a meeting was scheduled...their out to ruin my day!!  Most of the time (not all, nothing is 100%) people do these things not because they wish us ill, but because they have made a mistake. Our car was in their blindspot.. the waitress´s child is sick, and she´s worried about her..the HR department is understaffed.

This Mental Model allows us the chance to respond, not react, to the situations that we find ourselves in.

Classroom Connection:

The next time a student behaves a certain way in your class, take a moment and think. He probably isn´t doing it "on purpose" to cause you misery. He´s not out to get you. He probably is telling you he doesn´t have some sort of skill, and that he needs your help to develop it. 

Video Reflection:

The Law of Parsimony (Occam´s Razor)

Brief Overview:


This Law tells us to look for the simplest solution. The solution with the least moving parts. The solution that we can most easily prove to be wrong! I like to think of this Law more as acknowledging you can over-complicate things. Just because something is the simplest, does not mean it is not complex. 

Classroom Connection:

Think of a problem/issue you are having with your classroom or a student. Now, list some idea fragments on a piece of paper that might lead to solving this issue/problem. Which one has the least moving parts? Which one is "simplest"? Try that one first. See what happens. Don´t forget to walk yourself through the inversion model as well as some second-order thinking before you start!

Video Reflection:


Confirmation Bias & Falsification

What is it?


We love to be right. It is easier. In the past, we only made survival-based decisions. Which confirmation bias really helps out with! Now, we are receiving enormous amounts of information and our brains have to cope with it.

Something else we now have, are beliefs. Confirmation bias allows us to believe in our matter what. 

In order to help ourselves deal with confirmation bias, you need to do a couple things. Number one, acknowledge it´s existence and that you are not some sort of super human that it does not effect. Number two, try and falsify your ideas. Falsification is the act purposefully trying to prove your ideas/beliefs to be untrue. 


"What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact." -- Warren Buffett

Classroom Connection:

Think of a belief or an idea you have in regards to teaching or your students. Now, try and design an assessment that might prove you are wrong. (If you are not able to design one, that might be an indicator that your idea or belief is not based in science.)

Now that you have the assessment...Give it! Pay attention to ALL of the data, and determine if this assessment proved your idea false. If it doesn´t, you can always try and think of another one... The more we go through the falsification process the better!

Circle of Competence


What is it?

We all have small areas of expertise, or competence. We need to understand not only what those are, but what we are not yet competent in, AND how wide our circle is. We are certainly able to develop competencies over  time, if we are disciplined and focused.


"Where should we devote our limited time in life, in order to achieve the most success?"-- Shane Parrish

Classroom Connection:

For me this is three-fold. One, we must first acknowledge the vast areas that exist in our chosen profession. From the brain, to social emotional learning; from assessment to instructional strategies; teaching is immense. Once we come to this understanding, we must be exacting (and not overcome by Confirmation Bias!)  in what our circles of competence are. Once we have assessed ourselves, we must commit to being disciplined and focused to continue to develop what competencies we do have, and which ones we want to start. 

Video Reflection:



What is it?

Photo by  Marc Marchal  on  Unsplash

Inversion is a problem solving technique in which you work backwards, not forwards. You think about the end, your goal, and what actions you can take to make sure that goal does not happen. In this way, you are conscious of all the things you can do to not reach your goal, so you are able to NOT do them.


"Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance."-- Simon Ramo 

"Just tell me where I am going to die, so I never go there."-- Charlie Munger

Classroom Connection:

Think of a goal you have for your students (or teachers). Have the goal in mind? Now, list all the actions you can take that would make sure your students (or teachers) would never reach that goal. Now you know what not to do!