What is meant by Habits of Mind?

The sixteen Habits of Mind, as defined by Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick, are 16 essential characteristics for success. To quote Dr. Costa, “Habits of Mind are dispositions displayed by intelligent people in response to problems, dilemmas, and enigmas, the resolution of which are not immediately apparent.

They are not the only characteristics of successful people, but they are among the most important. While we like to assume that any student attending school will pick these up along the way, it has been found that actually teaching and reinforcing these concepts, at school and at home, is much more effective.

How does Kittredge School teach the Habits of Mind?

At Kittredge School we actively teach these habits in every classroom and in every area of the curriculum. We have broken the 16 habits into two sets of eight, and teach each set in alternate years.  A new habit is introduced about once a month in an all-school assembly. A student enrolled from kindergarten through 8th grade is formally exposed to each habit at least four times. Informally, aspects of all sixteen habits come up in the classroom almost daily.

Learning the vocabulary of Habits of Mind is an important step towards being aware of one’s use of the habits. Not only are students encouraged to learn and use this vocabulary, but parents are also invited to learn and use the vocabulary at home. The more consistently the habits are applied, the more likely students are to incorporate them into their natural learning style.

The 16 Habits of Mind

1. Listening with understanding and empathy:

Understand Others! Devoting mental energy to another person’s thoughts and ideas; holding in abeyance one’s own thoughts in order to perceive another’s point of view and emotions.

2. Striving for accuracy and precision:

Check it again! A desire for exactness, fidelity and craftsmanship.

3. Responding with wonderment and awe:

Have fun figuring it out! Finding the world awesome, mysterious and being intrigued with phenomena and beauty.

4. Gathering data through all senses:

Use your natural pathways! Gathering data through all the sensory pathways–gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory and visual.

5. Thinking about your thinking (metacognition):

Know your knowing! Being aware of one’s own thoughts, strategies, feelings and actions and their effects on others.

6. Taking responsible risks:

Venture out! Being adventuresome; living on the edge of one’s competence

7. Persisting: 

Stick to it! Persevering in task through to completion; remaining focused

8. Remaining open to continuous learning:

Learn from experiences! Having humility and pride when admitting we don’t know; resisting complacency.

9. Applying past knowledge to new situations:

Use what you Learn! Accessing prior knowledge; transferring knowledge beyond the situation in which it was learned.

10. Questioning and problem posing:

How do you know? Having a questioning attitude; knowing what data are needed and developing questioning strategies to produce those data. Finding problems to solve.

11. Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision:

Be clear! Striving for accurate communication in both written and oral form; avoiding over generalizations, distortions and deletions

12. Creating, imagining, and innovating:

Try a different way! Generating new and novel ideas, fluency, originality

13. Managing impulsivity:

Take your time! Thinking before acting; remaining calm thoughtful and deliberative.

14. Thinking interdependently:

Work together! Being able to work in and learn from others in reciprocal situations.

15. Finding humor:

Laugh a little! Finding the whimsical, incongruous and unexpected. Being able to laugh at oneself.

16. Thinking flexibly:

Look at it another way! Being able to change perspectives, generate alternatives, consider options.