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Promoting Thinking

Read about different perspectives on teaching attitudes that promote thinking.

Habits of Mind
Teaching Beliefs and Attitudes



Emotions and Thinking
When it comes to teaching learners to think, teachers face two big challenges. The first is to provide learners with facilitation and practice in the right kinds of skills. The second, a much more difficult task, is to persuade and inspire them to use those skills appropriately in school and in their daily lives.

The attitudes and beliefs that are conductive to good thinking have been described in a variety of ways. Here, we will explore three of these perspectives: Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind, Langer’s theory of “mindfulness," and the dispositions developed by Tishman and her colleagues.

Costa and Kallicks’s Habits of Mind >
Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick (2000) have developed a framework for thinking about what motivates people to behave “intelligently when confronted with problems” (p. 80). They have come up with five characteristics of people who use Habits of Mind, as well as sixteen Habits of Mind that are essential to thinking.

Mindfulness >
Ellen Langer (1989) used the term “mindfulness” to describe an approach to life through which people carefully use all the information and skills at their disposal when confronted with problems.  The characteristics of being mindful are the “creation of new categories, openness to new information, and awareness of more than one perspective” (p. 62).

Teaching Beliefs and Attitudes >
Described as “abiding intellectual traits” (Tishman, 2000, 73), Thinking Dispositions incorporate the inclination to think critically, a sensitivity to events in which thinking is required, and the ability to perform necessary thinking skills and strategies. Although similar to Habits of Mind, Thinking Dispositions are more focused on intellectual attitudes and beliefs. These dispositions can be explicitly taught.

Costa, A. L.. & Kallick, B. (2000). Describing 16 habits of mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Costa, A. L. (2000). Habits of mind. In A. L. Costa (Ed.), Developing minds: A resource book for teaching thinking, (pp. 80-83). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. New York: Merloyd Lawrence.

Pinker, D. (1997). How the brain works. New York: W. W. Norton.

Tishman, S.  (2000). Added value: A dispositional perspective on thinking. In A. L. Costa (Ed.), Developing minds: A resource book for teaching thinking, (pp. 72-74). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Tishman, S.; Jay, E., & Perkins, D. (1992). Teaching thinking dispositions: From transmission to enculturation.*