Chaos vs. patterns

Classrooms are orderly because chaos does awful things to students.  Everything is coming at them at once, and they can’t sort it or make sense of it.  They don’t know what to do next. 

Bombarded by what feels random and confusing, students (and teachers!) become immobilized. 

In a state of chaos, the next moment is unpredictable.  When tolerance for unpredictability runs low, anxiety sparks.  

Anxious minds naturally drum up fantasies about the future.  This (very bad thing) could happen, or that (equally bad thing) could.  What will come next?  And WHEN?  Nothing productive gets done when disaster looms heavy in the air.

What’s the antidote to chaos and anxiety?  Patterns. 

Patterns — organized frameworks — are comforting.  They bring order and stability to what has happened in the past, what is happening right now, and what will happen next.  

With a pattern, we know what to pay attention to and how to sort out all the pieces so we can envision how the future will line up and how we should navigate it.

When brains know the patterns of language, it’s easy to predict what someone will say next when all you hear is “There are three types of people…” or “The funniest thing happened to me yesterday…“  

When students know the patterns of language, they become mind readers and can set themselves up for the next moment feeling in control and on top of their academic game.  

The most powerful antidote to confusion in young minds is patterns.  Teach students patterns, and they can conquer anything.