Friday, April 27, 2012

What do students do when they don't know what to do?

Last month at the SGIS Conference I attended a couple of sessions by Art Costa on habits of mind.  These sessions were about how we can develop intellectual resources in our students so that they behave intelligently when they are confronted with questions or problems that they don't know how to answer.  In a paper when the habits of mind are described, Art Costa and Bena Kallick write:
We are interested in observing how students produce knowledge rather than how they merely reproduce knowledge.  The critical attribute of intelligent human beings is not only having information, but also knowing how to act on it.
They argue that when we employ the correct habits of mind "the results that are produced are more powerful, of higher quality and greater significance than if we fail to employ those patterns of intellectual behaviors."

I've been wondering how these 16 habits of mind work together with the IB Learner Profile and the PYP Attitudes.  The first three habits of mind that Art Costa and Bena Kallick write about are persisting, managing impulsivity and listening to others with understanding and empathy.  For these three it's very clear how they complement the Learner Profile and Attitudes.

Persisting - PYP Attitude: Commitment
Students exhibiting the PYP attitude of commitment are committed to their own learning, persevere and show self-discipline and responsibility.  Persisting as a habit of mind involves sticking with a task until it is completed without giving up too easily.  Students who show persistence come up with strategies to attack problems and if one strategy doesn't work they know they need to reject it and try another.  They are comfortable with ambiguity.  Students who have not yet developed persistence often give up when they can't immediately solve a problem.  This is because they have only a limited repertoire of problem solving strategies.

Managing Impulsivity - IB Learner Profile: Reflective
Students who are reflective give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience.  They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.  This supports the habit of mind managing impulsivity.  Costa and Kallick write that effective problem solvers think before they act, consider alternatives and consequences and know their end goal:
Reflective individuals consider alternatives and consequences ... gathering information, taking time to reflect on an answer before giving it ... and listening to alternative points of view.
Impulsive students, on the other hand, often just answer without thinking and start on a task without fully understanding the directions.

Listening to others with understanding and empathy:  PYP Attitude:  Empathy
Students who show empathy can imagine themselves in another's situation in order to understand his or her reasoning and emotions, so as to be open-minded and reflective about the perspectives of others.  Costa and Kallick write that the ability to listen to another person and understand their point of view is one of the highest forms of intelligent behavior.  Empathy goes beyond listening - it means the listener has to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words.  They write:
We spend 55% of our lives listening yet it is one of the least taught skills in schools.  We often say we are listening, but in actuality we are rehearsing in our heads what we are going to say next ... We wish students to learn to hold in abeyance their own values, judgements, opinions and prejudices in order to listen and entertain another person's thoughts.  This is a very complex sill requiring the ability to monitor one's own thoughts while, at the same time, attending to the partner's words.
These are the first 3 habits of mind but I can already see how perfectly they fit in with the attributes we are promoting in IB world schools.  I'll be reflecting on the other habits of mind in later posts.

Photo Credit:  Brain by Dierk Schaefer,  2008 Attribution 

No comments:

Post a Comment