(I’m republishing my favorite posts from the second half of 2023. You can see them all here)



One of my all-time favorite blog posts about schools has begun to be circulated on social media again.

The Difference between “Complicated” and “Complex” Matters by Larry Cuban was originally posted in 2010 and, if anything, is even more relevant today.

Basically, he warns against some who, in the name of school reform, push school change with a technocratic mindset (which he calls a “complicated” one) when, in fact, schools can be “complex” problems that have too many moving parts to be approached that way.

I posted about it when it originally came out in a piece titled Is “Complicated” To “Complex” As “Puzzle” Is To “Mystery”? 

I think you might find that commentary useful.  I compare Cuban’s contrasts with to security expert Gregory F. Treverton perspective on “puzzles” and “mysteries.”

While you’re at it, you might want to also look at what might be my second most favorite essay on schools and teaching, also by Larry Cuban.

It’s titled A Significant Error That Policymakers Commit, and in it he describes another contrast – between “good” and “successful” teaching.

I wrote two commentaries about that post:

This Post By Larry Cuban Is A Candidate For The Best Education Policy Commentary Of The Year

The Difference Between “Good” Teaching & “Successful” Teaching – And What This Means For The Next School Year

You could spend your time in far worst ways than reading his two posts…..

Addendum: You might also want to check out Treating the complex as complicated by Mr. Nickhart.