Habits of Mind

Habits of mind are thinking patterns that intelligent people use to solve problems. They develop heuristic shortcuts that allow smart people to act quickly and effectively when they encounter challenging situations.

The Habits of Mind framework developed by Art Costa and Bena Kallick describes 16 common habits of thought that help intelligent individuals navigate difficult questions or circumstances. These habits include:

1. Patience

Patience is the disposition that enables one to remain calm, unbiased, and unbothered when confronted with difficult situations.

It involves perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation without responding in disrespect or anger; and forbearance when under strain, especially when facing longer-term difficulties.

Studies show that people with higher levels of patience are less likely to suffer from depression and have fewer physical illnesses linked to stress.

2. Listening

Listening is a complex skill that requires the ability to monitor your own thoughts while attending to someone else’s words. Generative listening involves developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind’s hearing to your ears’ natural speed and hear beneath the words to their meaning.

The ability to listen effectively is a hallmark of intelligence. It also demonstrates empathy, which is the ability to understand another person’s point of view.

3. Questioning

Questioning enables individuals to gain a clearer understanding of the world and challenge their assumptions. This leads to increased creativity and mental agility, enabling individuals to generate unique ideas.

Effective questioning techniques can promote learning and critical thinking, enhancing academic success and personal development. However, certain barriers may inhibit the questioning process. Identifying and eliminating these barriers can help improve student performance.

4. Repetition

Repetition is a powerful learning technique that helps you remember new information. It also helps strengthen and grow your brain’s neural network.

Repetition is the most common way people learn, from simple things like tying your shoes to complex multiplication tables. It helps create long term memory by eliciting strong chemical interactions at the synapse of your neuron.

5. Metacognition

Metacognition is a habit of mind that helps people to understand how they are thinking and how their thoughts can be improved. It also helps them to develop the skills needed to learn new things, plan their learning and evaluate their progress.

In cognitive neuroscience, researchers divide metacognition into two main components: meta-knowledge and meta-control5.

6. Problem-posing

The habit of problem-posing is a critical thinking skill that can be developed and cultivated in the classroom. The process involves identifying, explaining, and exploring problems, and envisioning solutions.

This skill is often overlooked in mathematics education, but it can be an effective strategy for teaching and learning. Moreover, it is a skill that can be taught to students at all levels of instruction.

7. Problem-solving

Problem-solving is a mental process that involves identifying, analysing and solving problems. It is a skill that can be learned and used in many fields.

Employing problem-solving habits requires a composite of skills, attitudes, cues, past experiences and proclivities. It implies choosing which pattern should be employed at which time, sensitivity to contextual cues signaling that it is an appropriate time and circumstance for this pattern to be used and a level of skillfulness to carry through behaviors effectively over time.

8. Taking risks

When it comes to achieving our dreams, the truth is that everything we want requires some level of risk.

Whether you are looking to take a new job, start your own business, or try a completely new hobby, taking risks is a key ingredient for success.

Taking risks can lead to a lifetime of joy and learning opportunities. It’s also a great way to build confidence and become more resilient.

9. Taking advantage of all your senses

The ability to hear, see, touch, taste and smell is hard-wired into your brain and sensory organs. Use these senses to your advantage and you’ll feel more engaged and productive in your everyday life.

This is also a good habit to foster in the classroom. It encourages students to use their senses in new and exciting ways. The most successful teachers understand how to harness this energy, and the rewards can be huge.

10. Making connections

As a reading comprehension strategy, making connections helps students connect the text they read to their own lives. It also requires them to think deeply about what they read.

Although making connections doesn’t come naturally for all students, it can be practiced and mastered with modeling and support. Give your students plenty of opportunities to make connections during read alouds, shared reading, and small groups instruction.

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