LATTICEWORK OF MULTIPLE MENTAL MODELS

I’m gathering a lot of wisdom while reading Poor Charlie’s Almanack, and one of the best concepts I’ve discovered is Charlie Munger’s multiple mental models. To summarize, Munger hangs his mental models on a figurative latticework, which he can then use to make sense of what he hears and reads. Here’s an excerpt from the book (page 222):

I’ve long believed that a certain system–which almost any intelligent person can learn–works way better than the systems that most people use. As I said at the U.S.C. Business School, what you need is a latticework of mental models in your head. And you hang your actual experience and your vicarious experience (that you get from reading and so forth) on this latticework of powerful models. And, with that system, things gradually get to fit together in a way that enhances cognition.

This latticework of mental models becomes an ecosystem Munger can visit whenever he has to analyze something. Here’s another excerpt expanding upon this idea (page 55):

The unassailable logic of Charlie’s ‘ecosystem’ approach to investment analysis: Just as multiple factors shape almost every system, multiple models from a variety of disciplines, applied with fluency, are needed to understand that system. As John Muir observed about the interconnectedness of nature, ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.’

One of the benefits mental models provide is a comprehensive perspective. With a latticework of multiple models, a semblance of understanding can be attained of a system. This works in creating a system, too.

I bring this up because while reading about Mungers mental models, I couldn’t stop thinking about teacher collaboration within a school site. If you’ve been an educator for at least the last ten years, you’ve seen a lot of ad hoc initiatives. One of my goals is to create a latticework of understanding regarding the role of professional collaboration. Essentially, all of the ad hoc policies would be placed on the latticework, and a connection would be made amongst them all, bringing coherence to a very muddled group of ideas. If something doesn’t fit within the latticework, then it’s removed. (We don’t want a Bed of Procrustes situation.) As Munger says, “If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form” (page 166).

So what are these ideas that must be combined in a usable form regarding teacher collaboration? The following list is a good start:

  • Definition of professional learning communities (PLC)
  • Unpacking standards
  • Learning intentions
  • Success criteria
  • Exemplars
  • Rubrics
  • Data Driven Instruction (DDI)
  • District interim assessments
  • Common Formative Assessments
  • General check-ins with the team
  • Instructional rounds

Finally, answers to these two questions are essential:

  • Where are we in a cycle?
  • How many cycles are we talking about?

Here’s another important question:

  • Which protocol(s) will be used to bring coherence to all of this?

So the goal is to place all of this (and possibly more… possibly less) on the latticework and  figure out how teachers can make all this work in an afternoon after he or she has taught a full day and a lot of emotional labor has already been expended.

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