Habits of the Mind Meeting

13 January 2011


I had the opportunity a couple of months ago to meet Arthur Costa who is the man behind the habits of the mind institute.

The take away lessons from the day were:

1. That all teachers when asked how they would like to improve, regardless of which country they taught in all said that they want their students to do the following 16 things better…

  • Persisting
  • Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
  • Managing Impulsivity
  • Gathering Data Through all Senses
  • Listening with Understanding and Empathy
  • Creating, imagining and Innovation
  • Thinking Flexibly
  • Responding with Wonderment and Awe
  • Thinking about Thinking (Metacognition)
  • Taking Responsible Risks
  • Striving for Accuracy
  • Finding Humour
  • Questioning and Posing Problems
  • Thinking Interdependently
  • Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
  • Remaining Open to Continuous Learning

2. That we need to undergo a mindset shift from not only needing to know what the right answer is; to how to behave when you don’t know the answer.  It would appear that this is becoming increasingly important in the world we live in.  Where logical solutions are taken care of by computers leaving us to do the work that computers can’t; that is find creative solutions to questions requiring us to think outside the box.

This requires me as a teacher to be aware of how I behave when the answers aren’t immediately apparent and help model that for my students.

3. For those of us teaching Senior School – when we teach keywords we should teach the verb (the thinking skill) that enables the student to answer the question.

4. I found it interesting that the syllabus (or content) doesn’t get a mention in the 16 habits.  As I talked with other teachers in the room one of the main concerns that those teachers had was how do they implement these principles when their day is already so full with a very demanding syllabus.

Quote for the day:

Thinking is the hardest work there is which is why so few people engage in it.  Henry Ford

Does your school use Habits of the Mind?  Have you found it to have a positive impact?

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