“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to make your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”—Steve Jobs
I am not going to focus on Steve Jobs or Apple Computer in this post, but I did find a great deal of profundity in his statement about simplicity. My office mate and I were talking this morning about simplicity—how when you get to the core of your discipline and the workings of it, how elegantly simple the concepts are. We also observed that the process of making information simple is considerably more difficult and at times daunting than unloading volumes of information on our students.
In teaching psychology, I cover a theory dealing with Gestalt psychology. For clarification, Gestalt psychology breaks down the theory explaining perception. Along with Kohler and Koffka , Max Wertheimer emphasized the significance of higher order thinking skills in the context of Behaviorism. The focus of their theory was on “grouping” information to achieve a clearer understanding of the information. There are four basic principles to their theory of learning. Among these principles is the concept of “simplicity.” Who knew?
Let’s take, for example, a football game. Yes, I said a football game. You, as a coach, have lost roughly half of your games this season. Each week you scour the internet (does this sound familiar?) to find new, complex plays and offensive schemes to improve player performance. Upon presentation of this fool-proof method, you find your players dazed and confused. Really? Yes, you overlooked that they had never mastered the last set of plays. The coaches are bewildered. What’s the solution? How can we fix this? Maybe it’s the offensive line that is having the most trouble. These guys aren’t having trouble with the plays but with the basic footwork and body positions to create successful blocking. Why hadn’t they noticed the absence of the simple skills?
Learning fundamentals can be “game changing” for most of your players, too. An old cliché comes to mind that goes “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. When, as an educator, you focus on learning the basics, you will find that out of the ashes rises a Phoenix!
In your game to deliver the winning discipline, are you 1st and goal, or have you been sacked three times during this possession? Make sure you are an effective quarterback. Keep it simple. Address those fundamentals. Point out the forest.
If you can bear another take on this subject, I will continue with “Part Three” after the holiday break.