Have you seen the commercials for the Brain Gym? Have you read about Whole Brain Teaching strategies? It is easy to visualize a brain with arms and legs doing a floor exercise or vaulting into a world record. This is a metaphor for thinking flexibly. When we become rigid in our thinking we have created a habit, one way of doing something without question. While habits—the way you tie your shoe, the morning routine for getting off to work, or the path you travel on your brisk walk in the morning help us create a necessary routine, when we allow the way we think to fall into an unquestioned habit, we are ignoring possible solutions and current best thinking.
My eleven year old grandson is the epitome of thinking flexibly. When he wants to know more he simply goes on line, Googles the information he thinks he wants, follows the information threads wherever they lead, reads, watches YouTube, and exchanges information with other youth around the world, and then decides what “he thinks”. He understands, intuitively, the importance of accessing and analyzing information, and is totally comfortable with changing his thinking or how he might think about something, easily.
Thinking flexibly requires that we understand the need to change our point of view when we find new evidence, and that it is our job to keep seeking new evidence. Thinking Flexibly is like playing Twister with your brain—right frontal lobe green, medulla red, and so on. The ability to be flexible in our thinking allows us to see emerging possibilities and be open not attached to outcomes.
Thinking flexibly is one of the 16 identified Habits of the Mind, fundamental in the actualization of the Common Core Standards. Check in with C4K to learn about training on strategies to implement the Habits of the Mind in your afterschool program. Log on to Consultfourkids and enter your interest in the Training Request Tab.