Anyone who has ever put together a large jigsaw puzzle knows the level of commitment it takes to accurately combine what may initially seem like a million little pieces into a perfect replica of the picture on the box. At first, it may seem overwhelmingly complicated until you realize that there is a pattern and a system for assembling the pieces. My personal modus operandi is to identify the edge pieces and use them to create a frame then sort the remaining pieces by color and shape. Once I get to this stage in the process, the puzzle seems to change from overwhelmingly complicated to merely complex. This transformation not only prevents me from abandoning the puzzle all together but it allows my usually latent obsessive tendencies to thrive until it is complete.
What is the difference in meaning between the word complicated and the word complex? Something that is complex has many components or layers but it does not necessarily mean that it is difficult. Complex things can be broken down into simple, interconnected, related parts. The word complicated refers to something that has a high level of difficulty and inconsistency.
Consider a puzzle whose pieces are in the shape of each state in North America, for example. The puzzle’s complexity manifests itself in the fact that there are interconnected parts but the level of complication involved in completing the puzzle would most likely be fairly low because each piece is very distinct. On the other hand, a traditional jigsaw puzzle with many similarly shaped pieces would be more complicated than a puzzle with 50 distinct shapes. Large areas of plain color or similar colors on a puzzle, (e.g. a puzzle depicting a lot of black and white dice) could further complicate the process by making it unclear how the pieces connect.
Understanding the distinction between the meanings of the words complex and complicated will help explain the third misconception about phonics instruction. ...