Habits of Mind, developed by Arthur L. Costs and Bena Kallick, are “characteristics that are employed by successful people when they are confronted with problems.” They identify problem-solving, life-related skills that are necessary to effectively operate in society. Published in 2009, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind continue to provide an effective means to promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship.
There are 16 Habits of Mind, defined as:
- Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
- Managing Impulsivity
- Gathering Data Through all Senses
- Listening with Understanding with Empathy
- Creating, Imagining, Innovating
- Thinking Flexibly
- Responding with Wonderment and Awe
- Thinking About Thinking (metacognition)
- Taking Responsible Risks
- Striving for Accuracy
- Finding Humor
- Questioning and Posing Problems
- Thinking Interdependently
- Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
- Remaining Open to Continuous Learning
These habits don’t come easily to everybody. How many of us have the disposition to behave intelligently when confronted with a problem for which we don’t have the answer? As you can see from the list, many of these habits are particularly difficult for students with learning differences as they work to manage their learning styles, processing needs and stamina. Kingsbury believes it is critical to expose our students to these habits so that they may grow into confident learners.
Let’s start with the concept of Persisting. For learning disabled children and adults this is perhaps one of the most critical habits to develop. So often when learning gets difficult or complicated, regardless of the presence or type of disability, we all look to take a break from the challenge. Developing the skill of persisting means that when we are confronted with difficult, new and or challenging learning tasks, we approach the task with focus, determination, perseverance, tenacity and diligence until the task is complete. Learning how to proceed with a complicated task and successfully accomplish it helps us accept challenges more readily and provides us with references and confidence for new tasks.
In support of our children who learn differently, we must capitalize on their demonstrated achievements to illustrate the habit of persistence. We need to be careful not to cause anxiety as we gently introduce and then emphasize the idea of “stick-to-it-tiveness!” I challenge my teachers every day to take good care not to frustrate or increase anxiety among our students, but to encourage persistence as a means to help him or her develop.
I encourage our parents to do the same. You can give gentle guidance to your child to “keep at it” when he or she tackles a homework assignment; tries to master a new athletic skill; or wants to quit because doing something well “takes too long.” Becoming focused and staying focused takes practice; it doesn’t happen overnight. Those who learn persistence will know the satisfaction that comes from completing a task and be more confident the next time they confront a challenge.
In the coming weeks, I’ll talk about other Habits of Mind and how we can support our children so that they can develop these skills.
Image Credit: “Studying,” by Steven S.