Habits+of+Mind[1]

Habits+of+Mind[1] - DISCOVERING AND EXI’LORING HABITS OF...

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Unformatted text preview: DISCOVERING AND EXI’LORING HABITS OF MIND 3uilford, R, 8c Hoeptner, R. (1971). The analysis of intelligence. New York: MCGraw—Hill. (otulak, R. (1997). Inside the hrain: Revolutionary discoveries of how the mind works. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel. .owery, L. (1998, November). How new science curriculums reflect brain research. Educational Leadership, (563, 26—30. Aachado, L. A. (1980). The right to he intelligent. New York: Pergamon Press, Aarzano, R. J. (1992). A difirent kind of classroom: YEaching with Dimensions of Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ’erkins, D. (1991). What creative thinking is. In A. Costa (Ed), Developing minds: A resource hoo/efir teaching thinking (Rev. ed., Vol. 1, pp. 89—88). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ’erkins, D. N. (1995). Outsmarting I The emerging science oflearnahle intelligence. New York: The Free Press. Iesnick, L. B. (1999, June 16). Making America smarter. Education VVeeh, pp. 38—40. {esniclg L., 8C Hall, M. (1998, Fall). Learning organizations for sustainable education reform. DAEDALUS: journal of the American Academy ofArts and Sciences, 89—1 18. sternberg, R. (1983). How can we teach intelligence? Philadelphia, PA: Research for Better Schools. ternberg, R. (1984). Beyond]. : A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press. ternberg, R. J., Torff, 13., 8c Grigorenko, E. (1998, May). Teaching for successful intelligence raises school achievement. Phi Delta Kappan, 79(9), 667—669. wartz, R., 86 Parks, 5. (1994). Infitsing the teaching of critical and creative thinking into content instruction. Pacific Grove, CA: Critical Thinking Press and Software. Vhimbey, A., Whimbey, L. 3., 8C Shaw, L. (1975). Intelligence can he taught. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Volfe, R, 8c Brandt, R. (1998, November). What do we know from brain research? Educational Leadership, (56B, 8—13. ZubofI, S. (1988). In the age of the smart machine: The fitture of work and power. New York: BasicBooks. DESCRIBING THE HABITS OF MIND ARTHUR L. COSTA When we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and when we no longer lenow which way to go we have began our real jour— ney. The mind that is not haflled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings. Wendell Berry his chapter contains descriptions for 16 attributes of what human beings do when they behave intelligently. In Habits of Mind: A Developmental Series, we choose to refer to them as habits of mind. They are the characteristics of what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems, the resolutions to which are not Immediately apparent. . . . These habits of mind seldom are performed In isolation; rather, clusters of behaviors are drawn forth and employed in various situations. For example, when listening intently, you employ the habits of thinking flexibly, thinking about thinking (metacognition), thinking and commu~ nicating with clarity and precision, and perhaps even questioning and posing problems. . . _ Do not conclude, based on this list, that humans display Intelligent behavior in only 16 ways. The list of the habits of mind is not complete. We want this list to initiate a collection of additional attributes. In fact, 12 attributes of “Intelligent Behavior” were first described in 1991 (Costa, 1991). Since then, through collaboration and interaction With many others, the list has been expanded. You, your colleagues, and your students will want to continue the search for additional habits of mind to add to this list of 16. DISCOVERING AND EXPLORING HABITS or MIND r" PERSISTING Success seems to be connected with action. Successfidpeople keep moving. Tbey make mistakes but tbey never quit. Conrad Hilton Efficacious people stick to a task until it is completed. They don’t give up easily. They are able to analyze a problem, and they develop a system, struc— ture, or strategy to attack it. They have a repertoire of alternative strategies for problem solving, and they employ a whole range of these strategies. They collect evidence to indicate their problem—solving strategy is working, and if one strategy doesn’t work, they know how to back up and try another. They recognize when a theory or idea must be rejected and another employed. They have systematic methods for analyzing a problem, which include knowing how to begin, what steps must be performed, and what data must be generated or collected. Because they are able to sustain a problem—solving process over time, they are comfortable with ambiguous situations. Students often give up when the answer to a problem is not immedi- ately known. They sometimes crumple their papers and throw them away exclaiming, “I can’t do this!” or “It’s too hard!” Sometimes they write down any answer to get the task over with as quickly as possible. Some of these stu— dents have attention deficits. They have difficulty staying focused for any length of time; they are easily distracted; or they lack the ability to analyze a problem and develop a system, structure, or strategy of attack. They may give up because they have a limited repertoire of problem—solving strategies, and thus they have few alternatives if their first strategy doesn’t work. MANAGING IMPUISIVITY Goal—directed, self—imposed delay of gratification is perhaps the essence of emotional selfiregulation: tbe ability to deny impulse in the service qf'a b 'Describing the Habits of Mind goal, wbetber it be building a business, solving an algebraic equation, or pursuing tbe Stanley Cup. Daniel Goleman Effective problem solvers are deliberate: They think before they act. They intentionally establish a vision of a product, action plan, goal, or destina- tion before they begin. They strive to clarify and understand directions, they develop a strategy for approaching a problem, and they withhold immediate value judgments about an idea before they fully understand it. Reflective individuals consider alternatives and consequences of several possible directions before they take action. They decrease their need for trial and error by gathering information, taking time to reflect on an answer before giving it, making sure they understand directions, and listening to alternative points of View. Often, students blurt out the first answer that comes to mind. Sometimes they shout an answer, start to work without fully understand- ing the directions, lack an organized plan or strategy for approaching a problem, or make immediate value judgments about an idea (criticizing or praising it) before they fully understand it. They may take the first sugges— tion given or operate on the first idea that comes to mind rather than con— sider alternatives and the consequences of several possible directions. r i) LISTENING WITH UNDERSTANDING AND EMPATHY Listening is tbe beginning of understanding . . . Wisdom is tbe reward fiJr a lifi’time of listening. Let tbe wise listen and add to tbeir learning and let tbe discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5 Highly effective people spend an inordinate amount of time and energy listening (Covey, 1989). Some psychologists believe that the ability to listen to another person—to empathize with and to understand that perm son’s point of view—is one of the highest forms of intelligent behavior. The ability to paraphrase another person’s ideas; detect indicators (cues) of feelings or emotional states in oral and body language (empathy); and accurately express another person’s concepts, emotions, and problems—~all 2;: of listening behavror. (Piaget called it “overcoming I People who demonstrate this habit of mind are able to see through the diverse perspectives of others. They gently attend to another person demonstrating their understanding of and empathy for an idea or feelin ) by paraphrasing it accurately, building upon it, clarifyin it or ivi g example of it. g i g ng an Senge and his colleagues (1994) suggest that to listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the “music” but also to the essence of the person speaking You lis— ten not only for what someone knows but also for what that person is try- ing to represent. Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind’s hearin to your ears’ natural speed and hear beneath the words to their meanin g We spend 55 percent of our lives listening, but it is one of the legalst taught skills in schools. We often say we are listening, but actually we are rehearsmg in our head what we are going to say when our partner is fin— ished. 'Some students ridicule, laugh at, or put down other students’ ideas They interrupt, are unable to build upon, can’t consider the merits of or dont operate on another person’s ideas. ’ We want students to learn to devote their mental energies to another person and to’invest themselves in their partner’s ideas. We want students to learn to hold in abeyance their own values, judgments, opinions, and preju— dices so they can listen to and entertain another person’s thoughts This is a complex skill requiring the ability to monitor one’s own thoughts while at the same tirne attending to a partner’s words. Listening in this way does not mean we cant disagree with someone. Good listeners try to understand what other people are saying. In the end, they may disagree sharply but because they have truly listened, they know exactly the nature of the disagreement. @393 THINKING FLEXIBLY Ofa/lfbrms of mental activity, the most difiicult to induce even in the minds of the young, who may he presumed not to have lost their flexibil- zty, ZS the art of handling the same handle of data as hefi2re, hutpiacing 24 M them in a new system of relations with one another by giving them a dif fi’rent flamewor/e, all of which virtually means putting on a di erent kind of thinking—cap for the moment. It is my to teach anyhody a new fith. . . . but it needs light fiom heaven ahove to enahle a teacher to break the old fiamework in which the student is accustomed to seeing. Arthur Koestler An amazing discovery about the human brain is its plasticity—its ability t “rewire,” change, and even repair itself to become smarter. Flexible peop. have the most control. They have the capacity to change their minds as the receive additional data. They engage in multiple and simultaneous ou comes and activities, and they draw upon a repertoire of problem—solvir strategies. They also practice style flexibility, knowing when thinkir broadly and globally is appropriate and when a situation requires detailt precision. They create and seek novel approaches, and they have a we] developed sense of humor. They envision a range of consequences. Flexible people can approach a problem from a new angle using a nov approach, which de Bono (1991) refers to as “lateral thinking.” They cor sider alternative points of View or deal With several sources of informatit simultaneously. Their minds are open to change based on additional info mation, new data, or even reasoning that contradicts their beliefs. Flexil: people know that they have and can develop options and alternatives. Thl understand means—ends relationships. They can work within rules, criterf and regulations, and they can predict the consequences of flouting ther They understand immediate reactions, but they also are able to perceive t bigger purposes that such constraints serve. Thus, flexibility of mind essential for working with social diversity, enabling an individual to recc nize the wholeness and distinctness of other people’s ways of experienci and making meaning. Flexible thinkers are able to shift through multiple perceptual positio at will. One perceptual orientation is what Jean Piaget called egocentris, or perceiving from our own point of View. By contrast, allocentrism is I position in which we perceive through another person’s orientation. \ operate from this second position when we empathize with another’s fe ings, predict how others are thinking, and anticipate potential misund standings. Another perceptual position is macrocentric. It is similar to looki down from a balcony to observe ourselves and our interactions with 0‘ ers. This bird’s—eye View is useful for discerning themes and patterns frr assortments of information. It is intuitive, holistic, and conceptual. Becal we often need to solve problems with incomplete information, we need 1 25 DISCOVERING AND EXPLORING HABITS or MIND :apaCity to perceive general patterns and jump across gaps of incomplete knowledge. Yet another perceptual orientation is microcentric, examining the .ndivrdual and sometimes minute parts that make up the whole. This Norms—eye View involves logical, analytical computation, searching for :ausality in methodical steps. It requires attention to detail, precision, and )rderly progressions. Flexible thinkers display confidence in their intuition. They tolerate :onfusion and ambiguity up to a point, and they are willing to let go of a )roblem, trusting their subconscious to continue creative and productive Nork on it. Flexibility is the cradle of humor, creativity, and repertoire. Mthough many perceptual positions are possible—past, present, future, :gocentric, allocentric, macrocentric, microcentric, visual, auditory, kines— :hetic—the flexible mind knows when to shift between and among these )OSlthnS. Some students have difficulty considering alternative points of View or lealing with more than one classification system simultaneously. Their way 0 solve a problem seems to be the only way. They perceive situations from in egocentric pornt of view: “My way or the highway!” Their minds are nade up: Don’t confuse me with facts. That’s it!” THINKING ABOUT THINKING (METACOGNITION) When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself Plato )ccurring in the neocortex, metacognition, or thinking about thinking, is IUI‘ ability to know what we know and what we don’t know. It is our abil— ty to plan a strategy for producing what information is needed, to be con— eious of our own steps and strategies during the act of problem solving, nd to reflect on and evaluate the productiveness of our own thinking. llthough inner language, thought to be a prerequisite for metacognition, iegins in most children around age 5, metacognition is a key attribute of ormal thought flowering about age 11. .The major components of metacognition are developing a plan of cum, maintaining that plan in mind over a period of time. and then Describing the Habits of Mind ____—____________—________________ reflecting on and evaluating the plan upon its completion. Planning a strate egy before embarking on a course of action helps us keep track of the steps in the sequence of planned behavior at the conscious awareness level for the duration of the activity. It facilitates making temporal and comparative judgments; assessing -the readiness for more or different activities; and monitoring our interpretations, perceptions, decisions, and behaviors. An example would be what superior teachers do daily: developing a teaching strategy for a lesson, keeping that strategy in mind throughout the instruc— tion, and then reflecting upon the strategy to evaluate its effectiveness in producing the desired student outcomes. Intelligent people plan for, reflect on, and evaluate the quality of their own thinking skills and strategies. Metacognition means becoming increas- ingly aware of one’s actions and the effect of those actions on others and on the environment; forming internal questions in the search for information and meaning; developing mental maps or plans of action; mentally rehears— ing before a performance; monitoring plans as they are employed (being conscious of the need for midcourse correction if the plan is not meeting expectations); reflecting on the completed plan for self—evaluation; and editing mental pictures for improved performance. Interestingly, not all humans achieve the level of formal operations (Chiabetta, 1976). As Russian psychologist Alexander Luria found, not all adults metacogitate (Whimbey, Whimbey, 86 Shaw, 1975). The most likely reason is that all of us do not take the time to reflect on our experiences. Students often do not take the time to wonder why they are doing what they are doing. They seldom question themselves about their own learning strategies or evaluate the efficiency of their own performance. Some chilm dren virtually have no idea of what they should do when they confront a problem, and often they are unable to explain their decision-making strate- gies (Sternberg 86 Wagner, 1982). When teachers ask, “How did you solve that problem? What strategies did you have in mind?” or “Tell us what went on in your head to come up with that conclusion,” students often respond, “I don’t know. I just did it.” We want students to perform well on complex cognitive tasks. A sim- ple example might be drawn from a reading task. While reading a passage, we sometimes find that our minds wander from the pages. We see the words, but no meaning is being produced. Suddenly, we realize that we are not concentrating and that we’ve lost contact with the meaning of the text. We recover by returning to the passage to find our place, matching it with the last thought we can remember, and once having found it, reading on with connecredncss. This inner awareness and the strategy of recovery are components nf metacognition. 5‘) STRIVING FOR ACCURACY A man who has committed a mistake and doesnt correct it is committing another mistake. Confucius \Whether we are looking at the stamina, grace, and elegance of a ballerina or a shoemaker, we see a desire for craftsmanship, mastery, flawlessness, and economy of energy to produce exceptional results. People who value accu— racy, precision, and craftsmanship take time to check over their products. They review the rules by which they are to abide, they review the models and Visions they are to follow, and they review the criteria they are to use to confirm that their finished product matches the criteria exactly To be craftsmanlike means knowing that one can continually perfect one’s craft by working to attain the highest possible standards and by pursuing ongo— ing learning to bring a laser—like focus of energies to accomplishing a task. These people take pride in their work, and they desire accuracy as they take time to check over their work. Craftsmanship includes exactness, pre— cision, accuracy, correctness, faithfulness, and fidelity. For some people, craftsmanship requires continuous reworking. Mario Cuomo, a great speechwriter and politician, once said that his speeches were never done; it was only a deadline that made him stop working on them. Some students may turn in sloppy, incomplete, or uncorrected work. They are more anxious to get rid of the assignment than to check it over for accuracy and precision. They are willing to settle for minimum effort rather than invest their maximum. They may be more interested in expe— dience rather than excellence. QUESTIONING AND PoerG PROBLEMS The formulation of a prohlem is ofien more essential than its solution, which may he merely a matter of mathematical or experimental shill. . . . 28 7?) raise new questions, new possibilities, to regaral ola' problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and mar/es real advances. ' Albert Einstein One of the distinguishing characteristics of humans is our inclination an« ability to find problems to solve. Effective problem solvers know how to questions to fill in the gaps between what they know and what they don know. Effective questioners are inclined to ask a range of questions: ' What evidence do you have? ' How do you know that’s true? ' How reliable is this data source? They also pose questions about alternative points of View: . . . . . ; ° From whose Viewpomt are we seeing, reading, or hearing. . . . . . . p ° From what angle, what perspective, are we Viewmg this Situation. Students pose questions that make causal connections and relationships: . . 9 ° How are these (people, events, or Situations) related to each other. ° What produced this connection? Sometimes they pose hypothetical problems characterized by “if questions: ' What do you think would happen IF. . . ? ' IF that is true, then what might happen IF. . . ? Inquirers recognize discrepancies and phenomena in their enVironmen and they probe into their causes: ‘ Why do cats purr? ° How high can birds fly? I . ' Why does the hair on my head grow so fast, while the hair on n arms and legs grows so slowly? . ° What would happen if we put the saltwater fish in a fresh war aquarium? I i I h ° What are some alternative solutions to international conflicts, ot than wars? 29 DISCOVERING AND EXPLORING HABITS OF MIND Some students may be unaware of the functions, classes, syntax, or intentions in questions. They may not realize that questions vary in com— plexity, structure, and purpose. They may pose simple questions intending to derive maximal results. When confronted with a discrepancy, they may lack an overall strategy to search for and find a solution. APPLYING PAST KNOWLEDGE TO NEW SITUATIONs I ’ve never made a mistake. I ’ve only learned fiom experience. Thomas A. Edison Intelligent humans learn from experience. When confronted with a new and perplexing problem, they will draw forth experiences from their past. They Often can be heard to say, “This reminds me Of . . .” or “This is just like the time when I . . . .” They explain what they are doing now with analogies about or references to their experiences. They call upon their store of knowledge and experience as sources of data to support, theories tO explain, or processes to solve each new challenge. They are able to abstract meaning from one experience, carry it forth, and apply it in a novel situation. TOO often, students begin each new task as if it were being approached for the first time. Teachers are dismayed when they invite students to recall how the students solved a similar problem previously—and students don’t remember. It’s as if they had never heard of it before, even though they recently worked with the same type Of problem! It seems each experience is encapsulated and has no relationship to what has come before or what comes after. Their thinking is what psychologists refer to as an “episodic grasp of reality” (Feuerstein, Rand, Hoffman, 86 Miller, 1980); that is, each event in life is separate and discrete, with no connections to what may have come before or with no relation to what follows. Their learning is so encap— sulated that they seem unable to draw forth from one event and apply it in another context. Describing the Habits of Mind ! it THINKING AND COMMUNICATING WITH CLARITY AND PRECISION I do not so easily think in worals. . . . after being hard at work having arrived at results that are perfectly clear. . . . I have to translate my thoughts in a language that does not run evenly with them. Francis Galton, Geneticist Language refinement plays a critical role in enhancing a person’s cognitive maps and their ability to think critically, which is the knowledge base for efficacious action. Enriching the complexity and specifierty Of language simultaneously produces effective thinking. . I . Language and thinking are closely entwined; like either Side of a com, they are inseparable. Fuzzy language is a reflection of fuzzy thinking. Intelligent people strive to communicate accurately In both written and oral form, taking care to use precise language; defining terms; and correct names, labels, and analogies. They strive to avoid overgeneralizations, dele— tions, and distortions. Instead, they support their statements with explana— tions, comparisons, quantification, and evidence. ' We sometimes hear students and other adults using vague and Impre- cise language. They describe Objects or events with words like weird, nice, or okay. They name specific objects using such nondescriptive words as stufif junk, and things. They punctuate sentences With meaningless inter- jections like ya know, er, and uh. They use vague or general nouns and pro,- nouns: “ They told me to do it!”, “Everybody has one! , or Teachers dont understand me.” They use nonspecific verbs: “Let’s do it.” Atother times, they use unqualified comparatives: “This soda is better, I like It more. {EL GATHERING DATA THROUGH ALL SENSES Observe perpetually. Henry James "Wm—"WWW The brain is the ultimate reductionist. It reduces the world to its elemen— tary parts: photons of light, molecules of smell, sound waves, vibrations of touch—all of which send electrochemical signals to individual brain cells that store information about lines, movements, colors, smells, and other sensory inputs. Intelligent people know that all information gets into the brain through sensory pathways: gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, and Visual. Most linguistic, cultural, and physical learning is derived from the environment by observing or taking it in through the senses. To know a Wine it must be drunk; to know a role it must be acted; to know a game it must be played; to know a dance it must be moved; to know a goal it must he envisioned. Those whose sensory pathways are open, alert, and acute absorb more information from the environment than those whose path— Ways are withered, immune, and oblivious to sensory stimuli. I We are learning more and more about the impact of arts and music on improved mental functioning. Forming mental images is important in mathematics and engineering; listening to classical music seems to improve spatial reasoning. Social scientists use scenarios and role—playing; scientists build models; engineers use CAD-CAM; mechanics learn through hands— on experimentation; artists explore colors and textures; and musicians ttombine instrumental and vocal music. Some students, however, go through school and life oblivious to the textures, rhythms, patterns, sounds, and colors around them. Sometimes Children are afraid to touch or get their hands dirty. Some don't want to feel an object that might be slimy or icky. They operate within a narrow range of sensory problem—solving strategies, wanting only to “describe it but not Illustrate or act it,” or to “listen but not participate.” CREATING, IMAGINING, INNOVATING Thefiiture is not someplace we are going to hut one we are creating. The paths are not to he found, hut made, and the activity ofmcthing them changes hath the maker and the destination. John Schaar, Political Scientist \ll human beings have the capacity to generate novel, clever, or ingenious )roducts, solutions, and techniques—ifthat capacity is developed. Creative 32 human beings try to conceive problem solutions differently, examining alternative possibilities from many angles. They tend to project themselves into different roles using analogies, starting with a vision and working backward, and imagining they are the object being considered. Creative people take risks and frequently push the boundaries of their perceived lim— its (Perkins, 1991). They are intrinsically rather than extrinsically motivat- ed, working on the task because of the aesthetic challenge rather than the material rewards. Creative people are open to criticism. They hold up their products for others to judge, and they seek feedback in an ever-increasing effort to refine their technique. They are uneasy with the status quo. They constantly strive for greater fluency, elaboration, novelty, parsimony, simplicity, craftsman— ship, perfection, beauty, harmony, and balance. Students, however, often are heard saying, “I can’t draw,” “I was never very good at art,” “I can’t sing a note,” or “I’m not creative.” Some people believe creative humans are just born that way and that “it’s in those humans’ genes and chromosomes.” RESPONDING WITH WONDERMENT AND AWE The most beautifitl experience in the world is the experience of the mysterious. Albert Einstein Describing the 200 best and brightest of USA Today’s All USA College Academic Team, Tracey Wong Briggs (1999) states, “They are creative thinkers who have a passion for what they do.” Efficacious people have not only an “I can” attitude but also an “I enjoy” feeling. They seek problems to solve for themselves and to submit to others. They delight in making up problems to solve on their own, and they so enjoy the challenge of prob— lem solving that they seek perplexities and puzzles from others. They enjoy figuring things out by themselves, and they continue to learn throughout their lifetimes. Some children and adults avoid problems and are turned off to learn— ing. They make such comments as, “I was never good at these brain teasers,” “Go ask your father; he’s the brain in this family,” “It’s boring,” 33 DISCOVERING AND EXPLORING HABITS OF MIND “When am I ever going to use this stuffi”, “Who cares?”, “Lighten up, Teacher. Thinking is hard work," or “I don’t do thinking!” Many people never enrolled in another math class or other “hard” academic subjects after they didn’t have to in high school or college. Many people perceive thinking as hard work, and they recoil from situations that demand too much of it. We want students to be curious, to commune with the world around them, to reflect on the changing formations of a cloud, to feel charmed by the opening of a bud, to sense the logical simplicity of mathematical order. Students can find beauty in a sunset, intrigue in the geometric shapes of a spider web, and exhilaration in the iridescence of a hummingbirds wings. They can see the congruity and intricacies in the derivation of a mathe— matical formula, recognize the orderliness and adroitness of a chemical change, and commune with the serenity of a distant constellation. We want them to feel compelled, enthusiastic, and passionate about learning, inquir— ing, and mastering. TAIGNG RESPONSIBLE RISKS T/aere laas lyeen a calculated risk in every stage of American develop- ment—flee pioneers who were not aflaiel oft/9e wilderness, businessmen who were not afiaia’ affiiilure, dreamers who were not afiaia' of action. Brooks Atkinson Flexible people seem to have an almost uncontrollable urge to go beyond established limits. They are uneasy about comfort; they live on the edge of their competence. They seem compelled to place themselves in situations where they do not know what the outcome will be. They accept confusion, uncertainty, and the higher risks of failure as part of the normal process, and they learn to View setbacks as interesting, challenging, and growth pro— ducing. However, they do not behave impulsively. Their risks are educated. They draw on past knowledge, are thoughtful about consequences, and have a well—trained sense of what is appropriate. They know that all risks are not worth taking. Risk taking can be considered in two categories: those who see it as a venture and those who see it as adventure. The venture part of risk taking Describing the Habits of Mind might be described in terms of what a venture capitalist does. Wen a per- son is approached to take the risk of investing in a new business, she wil. look at the markets, see how well organized the ideas are, and study t‘hc economic projections. If she finally decides to take the risk, it is a well. considered one. The adventure part of risk taking might be described by the experi« ences from project adventure. In this situation, there is a spontaneity, ii willingness to take a chance in the moment. Once again, a person will takc the chance only if experiences suggest that the action will not be life thretlh ening or if that person believes that group support will protect the person from harm. (Checking out the dimensions of weight, distance, strength, and guarantees of a bungee cord before agreeing to the exhilaration of the drop, for example.) Ultimately, people learn from such high—risk experi' ences that they are far more able to take actions than they previously believed. Risk taking becomes educated only through repeated experiences. It often is a cross between intuition, drawing on past knowledge, striving for precision and accuracy, and a sense of meeting new challenges. Bobby Jindal, executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, states, “The only way to succeed is to be brave enough to risk failure” (Briggs, 1999, p. 2A). When peoplt hold back from taking risks, they miss opportunities. Some students seem reluctant to take risks. Some students hold back from games, new learning1 and new friendships because their fear of failure is far greater than their desire for venture or adventure. They are reinforced by the mental voice that says, “If you don’t try it, you won’t be wrong,” or “If you try it and ya“ are wrong, you will look stupid.” The other voice that might say, “If yet: don’t try it, you will never know,” is trapped by fear and mistrust. These students are more interested in knowing whether their answer is correct or not, rather than being challenged by the process of finding the answer. They are unable to sustain a process of problem solving and finding the answer over time, and therefore they avoid ambiguous situations. They have a need for certainty rather than an inclination for doubt. We hope that students will learn how to take intellectual as well as physical risks. Students who are capable of being different, going against the grain of common thinking, and thinking of new ideas (testing them with peers and teachers) are more likely to be successful in an age of inno» vation and uncertainty. s1 2 FINDING HUMOR Where do hees wait? At the huzz stop. Andrew, Age 6 Another unique attribute of human beings is our sense of humor. Its positive effects on psychological functions include a drop in the pulse rate, secretion of endorphins, and increased oxygen in the blood. Humor has been found to liberate creativity and provoke such higher—level thinking skills as antic— ipating, finding novel relationships, visual imaging, and making analogies. People who engage in the mystery of humor have the ability to perceive sit— nations from an original and often interesting vantage point. They tend to initiate humor more often, to place greater value on having a sense of humor, to appreciate and understand others’ humor, and to be verbally play— firl when interacting with others. Having a whimsical frame of mind, they thrive on finding incongruity; perceiving absurdities, ironies, and satire; finding discontinuities; and being able to laugh at situations and themselves. Some students find humor in all the wrong places—human differ— ences, ineptitude, injurious behavior, vulgarity, violence, and profanity. They laugh at others yet are unable to laugh at themselves. We want stu— dent to acquire this characteristic of creative problem solvers so they can distinguish between situations of human frailty and fallibility that need compassion and those that truly are funny (Dyer, 1997). { THINKING INTERDEPENDENTLY Elke care of each other. Share your energies with the group. No one must feel alone, out ofif for that is when you do not make it. Willie Unsoeld, Renowned Mountain Climber Humans are social beings. We congregate in groups, find it therapeutic to be listened to, draw energy from one another, and seek reciprocity. In 36 groups we contribute our time and energy to tasks that we would quickly tire of when working alone. In fact, solitary confinement is one of the cruelest forms of punishment that can be inflicted on an individual. Cooperative humans realize that all of us together are more powerful, intellectually or physically, than any one individual. Probably the foremost disposition in the postindustrial society is the heightened ability to think in concert with others, to find ourselves increasingly more interdependent and sensitive to the needs of others. Problem solving has become so com— plex that no one person can go it alone. No one has access to all the data needed to make critical decisions; no one person can consider as many alternatives as several people. \ Some students may not have learned to work in groups; they have underdeveloped social skills. They feel isolated, and they prefer solitude. They say things like, “Leave me alone—I’ll do it by myselfl” “They just don’t like me!” or “I want to be alone.” Some students seem unable to con— tribute to group work and are job hogs; conversely, other students let all the others in a group do all the work. Working in groups requires the ability to justify ideas and to test the feasibility of solution Strategies on others. It also requires developing a will— ingness and openness to accept feedback from a critical friend. Through this interaction, the group and the individual continue to grow. Listening, consensus seeking, giving up an idea to work with someone else’s, empathy, compassion, group leadership, knowing how to support group efforts, altruism—all are behaviors indicative of cooperative human beings. ‘W REMAINING OPEN TO CONTINUOUS LEARNING Insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a'ififerent results. Albert Einstein Intelligent people are in a continuous learning mode. Their confidence, in combination with their inquisitiveness, allows them to constantly search for new and better ways. People with this habit of mind are always striving for improvement, growing, learning, and modifying and improving themselves. 37 Hm ()Vl’lllhll. Min Immmm. llAlHl‘h mi Mum _ In,“ I. , I "m gaming”; Wes-u.» w mwmw They seize problems, situations, tensions, conflicts, and circumstances as valuable opportunities to learn. A great mystery about humans is that many times we confront learn— ing opportunities with fear rather than mystery and wonder. We seem to feel better when we know rather than when we learn. We defend our bias- es, beliefs, and storehouses of knowledge rather than invite the unknown, the creative, and the inspirational. Being certain and closed gives us com— fort, while being doubtful and open gives us fear. Thanks to a curriculum employing fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness, students from an early age are trained to believe that deep learn— ing means figuring out the truth rather than developing capabilities for effective and thoughtful action. They have been taught to value certainty rather than doubt, to give answers rather than to inquire, to know which choice is correct rather than to explore alternatives. Our wish is for creative students and people who are eager to learn. The habit of mind includes the humility of knowing that we don’t know, which is the highest form of thinking we will ever learn. Paradoxically, unless you start off with humility, you will never get anywhere. As the first step, you must already have what eventually will be the crowning glory of all learning: to know—and to admit—that you don’t know and to not be afraid to find out. THE RIGHT STUFF The beautifitl t/oing about learning is that nobody can take it nwoyfiom you. B. B. King The 16 habits of mind you’ve just considered were drawn from research on human effectiveness, descriptions of remarkable performers, and analyses of the characteristics of efficacious people. These habits of mind can serve as mental disciplines. When confronted with problematic situations, stu- dents, parents and teachers might habitually employ one or more of these habits of mind by asking themselves, “What is the most intelligent thing I can do right now?” They also might consider these questions: ' How can I learn from this? What are my resources? How can I draw on my past successes with problems like this? What do I already know about the problem? What resources do I have available or need to generate? ' How can I approach this problem flexibly? How might I look at the 151 lh-u lilting llu‘ llalms of Mind “mm m... wwwme situation in another way? How can I draw upon my repertoire of problem» solving strategies? How can I look at this problem from a fresh perspective (lateral thinking)? ' How can I illuminate this problem to make it clearer, more precise? Do I need to check out my data sources? How might I break this problem down into its component parts and develop a strategy for understanding, and accomplishing each step? i ' What do I know or not know? What questions do I need to ask? What strategies are in my mind now? What am I aware of in terms of my own beliefs, values, and goals with this problem? What feelings or emotions am I aware of that might be blocking or enhancing my progress? ' How does this problem affect others? How can we solve it together? What can I learn from others that would help me become a better problem solver? Community organizer Saul Alinsky coined a very useful slogan: “DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING . . . STAND THERE!” Taking a reflective stance in the midst of active problem solving is often difficult. For that reason, each of these habits of mind is situational and transitory. There is no such thing as perfect realization of any of them. They are utopian states toward which we constantly aspire. Csikszentmihalyi (1993) states, “Although every human brain is able to generate self—reflective conscious- ness, not everyone seems to use it equally” (p. 23). Few people, notes Kegan (1994), ever fit/[y reach the stage of cognitive complexity, and rarely before middle age. These habits of mind transcend all subject matters commonly taught in school. They are characteristic of peak performers in all places: homes, schools, athletic fields, organizations, the military, governments, churches, or corporations. They are what make marriages successful, learning continw ual, workplaces productive, and democracies enduring. The goal of educa- tion, therefore, should be to support ourselves and others in liberating, developing, and habituating these habits of mind more fully. Taken togeth- er, they are a force directing us toward increasingly authentic, congruent, and ethical behavior. They are the touchstones of integrity and the tools of disciplined choice making. They are the primary vehicles in the lifelong journey toward integration. They are the “right stuff ” that make human beings efficacious. 3‘) ...
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Habits+of+Mind[1] - DISCOVERING AND EXI’LORING HABITS OF...

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