Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 16 Habits of the Mind

Before we started to look at the Common Core Standards a great deal of work had been done to identify the Habits of the Mind that we want our youth to develop so they can be resilient and eventually successful.  Costa and Kallick have done a great deal of work around this topic and in their article, Describing 16 Habits of the Mind, begins by stating that “a problem is any stimulus, question, task, phenomenon, or discrepancy, the explanation for which is not immediately known.”  They then go on to talk about what strategic demands are put on youth (adults as well) to find a resolution—in other words, solve the problem.  Certainly, in order to solve a problem whose explanation is not immediately known, we need to think critically and strategically.  Certain things have to be in place to get us through the challenge to a resolution.  The Habits of the Mind are “performed” in response to those problems for which no answer is immediately known.  The 16 habits identified by Cost and Kallick are:

Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
Managing impulsivity
Gathering data through all senses
Listening with understanding and 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

While their discussion of all of the 16 is interesting, I would like to focus on habit 3:  Listening to others with understanding and empathy.  They quote the Bible, Covey, Piaget and Senge in their discussion.  Proverbs says, “Listening is the beginning of understanding…wisdom is the reward for a lifetime of listening.”  Covey states that highly effective people “spend an inordinate amount of time and energy listening”, and Piaget identifies the behavior of listening as “overcoming ego-centrism.”  Senge suggests the “to listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words.”  Another source, not quoted in Costa’s and Kallick’s article is one that you may have heard:  You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately. 

All good advice especially when you understand that the essential aspect of communication is one person’s “heart” speaking to another’s.  In the graphic of communication below you can see how the words spoken begin in one heart, one feeling, and then are transferred to another’s.

Listening without thinking about your own response is far more likely to lead to understanding than speaking or listening half-heartedly or only so you can make your own point.  One of my goals for 2013 is to listen more and speak less.

What do you think?  When was the last time you really felt like someone listened to you until they understood you?

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