It is amazing how web 2.0 interactive dialog facilitated by hyperlinks can create pathways for creative inquiry. Thanks to a blog comment by Jim McNelis and his reference to a post by Tom Hoffman on “Any Future Problem Solving Alumni Out There?” I found Essential School’s page for “Habits of Mind” today.

According to Ted Sizer, the “habits of mind” we need to encourage students to acquire and refine through constant practice include:

  • perspective
  • analysis
  • imagination
  • empathy
  • communication
  • commitment
  • humility
  • joy

I am right on the same page with Ted. I want my own children attending schools whose leaders are focused on developing these habits of mind. And I want to teach for institutions which do as well. I agree with Ted Sizer:

Good schools focus on habits, on what sorts of intellectual activities will and should inform their graduates’ lives. Not being clear about these habits leads to mindlessness, to institutions that drift along doing what they do simply because they have always done it that way. Such places are full of silly compromises, of practices that boggle commonsense analysis. And they dispirit the Horace Smiths, who know that the purpose of education is not in keeping school but in pushing out into the world young citizens who are soaked in habits of thoughtfulness and reflectiveness, joy, and commitment.

I think John Dewey would agree with Tom as well. We have to be about SO MUCH more than test scores if we are to fulfill our educational obligations to the students in our charge. We need to both model and encourage the development of these habits of mind, as CCCC digital immigrants.

For more worthwhile thoughts along these lines, check out the Coalition of Essential Schools’ blog, “The Essential Blog,” as well as the Coalition of Essential School’s national office website. I particularly find the CES Common Principles strike a chord of resonance with my own pedagogic creed.

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4 Responses to Habits of Mind

  1. Tom Hoffman says:

    Just to be clear, that’s Ted Sizer’s quote, not mine. Of course, I agree with it completely.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks for the clarification, I edited the original post to indicate the quotation was from Tom!

  3. Tom Hoffman says:

    You mean from Ted. 😉

  4. Wesley Fryer says:

    Yes, Ted. Got that fixed too…. thanks! (sheepish grin)

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