Decision making is tough. We are riddled with cognitive biases, from action bias to the halo effect and sunken cost fallacy. They seem contrived only to make us terrible decision makers.
Teachers, HoDs, Heads, all need to make decisions.
Shall I tick ‘n flick those books? Or write comments? Or do neither and go to bed?
Should the department invest most of Year 7 studying number, or dedicate equal time to geometry, algebra and stats? Shall we study Skellig, or Oliver Twist?
Should I implement that new initiative, or not? Should I spend money on one experienced hire, three trainee teachers, or four teaching assistants?
Mental models: you could call them strategies, or lenses, or filters, or heuristics – whatever you call them, they are simple tools designed to aid decision making. As I moved through the last five years in education there were times I desperately wished some mental models I’d encountered in my former life were widely known and understood in education. Once known, the absurdity of some of the decisions we make is revealed. If not the absurdity, then the very real costs, or the risks, that otherwise remain hidden, and go unnoticed.
So I’m going to chuck a few out there, and see what people make of them. Some you will have heard of, others will probably be new.
To start with, I’m going to try to cover the following, over the next few weeks: