Habits of Mind
Responding with Wonderment and Awe
Good thinkers enjoy the mysteries they see around them in the world. They search for problems to solve and take pleasure in making up puzzles on their own. They find something wonderful and awe-inspiring in everyday occurrences as well as in once-in-a-lifetime events.
Taking Responsible Risks
People who are adept thinkers have an almost uncontrollable impulse to move outside of their comfort zones. Responsible risk-takers use their experiences and their knowledge to gain a sense of whether a particular course of action is worth the risk. They eagerly take on new responsibilities and enthusiastically learn new games and skills.
Creative thinkers have what Costa calls “a whimsical frame of mind.” They notice the absurd and the ironic in the world around them and often have a unique perspective on everyday situations. They love to play with language and thrive on making original analogies and metaphors. They don’t take themselves too seriously and bring out the fun in work.
In the 21st Century, problems have become so complex that no one person can solve them alone. As Costa and Kallick (2000a) explain, “No one has access to all the data needed to make critical decisions; no one person can consider as many alternatives as several people can” (p. 11). Working successfully with others requires that learners be proficient at giving feedback, both praise and constructive criticism. It also demands that they seek out and accept feedback on their own contributions to the group’s efforts.
Intrinsic motivation to be a better thinker and a better person is the key to lifelong learning. People with this Habit of Mind are always undertaking new projects and acquiring new skills. While they may feel certain about their point of view on a topic, they are never so certain that they cannot take in new information and change their minds. They view problems as opportunities to learn and continue to practice all the Habits of Mind throughout their lives.
Teaching the Habits of Mind means teaching beyond the subject matter of the day. It means approaching every learning activity as a step to independent, lifelong learning. While learners can often be persuaded to complete activities through punishments and extrinsic rewards, these kinds of motivators diminish authentic motivation in learning tasks and can extinguish the desire to pursue learning outside of the classroom. By modeling the attitudes and beliefs that support critical and creative thinking and by creating a classroom culture that prizes a love of learning, learners will not be limited to what they can learn in school. They can make any experience a learning experience.
Costa, A. L. (2000a). Components of a well-developed thinking skills program. Seattle, WA: New Horizons. www.newhorizons.org/strategies/thinking/costa2.htm*
Costa, A. L. (2000b). Habits of mind. In A. L. Costa, (Ed.), Developing minds: A resource book for teaching thinking, (pp. 80-83). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Costa, A. L.. & Kallick, B. (2000a). Describing 16 habits of mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Costa. A. L. & Kallick, B. (2000-2001b).Habits of mind. Highlands Ranch, CO: Search Models Unlimited. http://www.habits-of-mind.net/*
Wegerif, R. (2002). Literature review in thinking skills, technology, and learning. Bristol, England: NESTA. www.nestafuturelab.org/research/reviews/ts01.htm*
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