Habits of Mind
Costa and Kallick have identified sixteen Habits of Mind that are important for effective thinking. Individuals who have these habits not only can think deeply, but they choose to do so. These Habits of Mind are shaped by our intelligence, our personality, and our experiences; and they help us access the mental abilities to solve problems when we need to.
Successful thinkers and learners do not give up when projects are challenging. They work their way through problems by trying different strategies or using self-motivation techniques.
Good thinkers are deliberate. They think things over before they take action. They make a plan, predict consequences, and anticipate problems. They spend adequate time figuring out a problem before they begin to solve it.
Listening to Others with Understanding and Empathy
Good thinkers are good listeners. They are interested in what other people have to say, and they listen closely to make sure they understand them correctly. They keep their opinions on hold until they have heard everyone out, recognizing that others may have ideas and information that will help them solve problems and make decisions.
Flexible thinkers change their minds when they are exposed to new, accurate, and critical information, even if that information contradicts deep-seated beliefs. They can see the big picture and the significant details. They can synthesize information from a variety of sources at the same time as they evaluate their credibility. They can draw on a number of different strategies and adapt and modify them when necessary to accomplish specific tasks.
Metacognitive thinkers have control over their thinking because they are aware of how they think. They plan how they are going to solve a problem and monitor how well they are doing with their plan. When they finish a project, they look back and think of what they can learn from the experience.
Striving for Accuracy and Precision
A sense of craftsmanship is critical for good thinking, a respect for quality and accuracy, and a desire to make things as efficient, beautiful, or clear as possible. Good thinkers are aware of the prevailing criteria for quality in the field they’re working in, and they work as hard as they can to produce work that matches the criteria.
Questioning and Posing Problems
True inquisitiveness is what drives deep thinking, the kind of wondering that draws the thinker into a complex problem. Adept thinkers find problems where others are satisfied with the status quo, and they are aware of the gaps in their knowledge.
Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations
Effective thinkers use their experiences and the knowledge they already have to help them understand new concepts by noticing similarities and making connections. They say things like, “This reminds me of when I…” or “This model looks a lot like….” They often describe ideas in metaphors and analogies that help them create a framework for unfamiliar ideas.
Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision
Costa describes thinking and language as two sides of a coin. Fuzzy language, he warns, reflects fuzzy thinking. It is not enough that learners have good ideas; they must be good at communicating those ideas to others, and this requires careful attention to the structure and the language of explanations and descriptions.
Gathering Data through All Senses
Part of being a flexible thinker is using a variety of methods to get at the truth. Good thinkers use sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell to enhance their ideas and expand their way of thinking about the world around them.
Creating, Imagining, and Innovating
Creative people see things from different perspectives. They push the limits of what is expected and take risks. Creativity involves more than just coming up with unusual ideas, however; It also involves being critical of ones own work, inviting criticism from others, and working constantly to refine technical expertise and make better products.
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