Sunday, May 6, 2012

What do you do when you don't know? (Part 5)

Over the past few weeks I've been thinking about the Habits of Mind as described by Art Costa and Bena Kallick.  These habits of mind are the dispositions that a student has towards behaving intelligently when confronted with problems.  My question has been, do the PYP Attitudes and the IB Learner Profile also promote these habits of mind?  How closely are these linked?  Over the past 4 posts I've looked at each habit of mind and have seen that certainly there is a great similarity between them and the attributes promoted by the IBO.  This is my final post about these habits of mind.

Taking Responsible Risks - IB Learner Profile: Risk Taker
Of all the attributes of the Learner Profile this one has probably been the most controversial - many have questioned whether this is perhaps a "Western" value.  However when you consider the way the IB defines risk taker it is in a way that seems to fit very well into the habits of mind:
They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies.  They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
Costa and Kallick write about risk takers as being pioneers, having an urge to go beyond their comfort zone and established limits and live on the edge of their competences.  They write about the fact that the risks are calculated ones, not just impulsive ones, that the consequences have been considered, but that these people are comfortable with uncertainty and that they accept failure as a challenge to growth.  Here is an interesting thing:  they write that it is only through repeated experiences that risk taking becomes educated.  Therefore it seems that schools are a "safe" place to give students that experience.  We want students who are motivated by the challenge of finding the answer to their questions, not students who just want to get things "right".  We want students to take intellectual risks, to think new ideas.  Since the Learner Profile also applies to teachers, we want to encourage this risk taking attitude among teachers too. If teachers are trapped by fear and mistrust, then how can they model risk taking to their students?

Finding Humor
I couldn't find an equivalent for this habit of mind, but I can appreciate that it is an important one, particularly as it seems to be linked to creativity and higher level thinking skills such as anticipation, finding novel relationships, visual imagery and making analogies.

Thinking Interdependently - PYP Attitude:  Cooperation
 In an age when cooperation and collaboration are highly valued, being able to think interdependently means that students are sensitive to the needs of others.  Being able to pool collective knowledge, being able to see things from another perspective, being able to think critically and to accept constructive criticism from others, all these are skills that are important in the 21st century.  Another PYP attitude is independence.  This refers to thinking and acting independently, with students making their own judgements based on reasoned argument.  Being able to justify ideas is also an important part of working with others.

Learning Continuously - PYP Attitude:  Curiosity
This attitude is embodied in those who are life-long learners.  They are curious about the nature of learning, about the world, its peoples and cultures.  They are constantly searching for new and better ways of doing things, they are continually improving themselves.  Costa and Kallick write "intelligent people are in a continuous learning mode."  Problems and conflicts are simply seen as valuable learning opportunities.  People who are curious are also open minded - they are interested in the unknown even when it might be outside their comfort zone.  Curiosity is what makes students eager to learn.

The habits of mind as defined by Costa and Kallick give students a way of asking intelligent questions when they don't immediately know what to do.  It gives them the ability to reflect on past experiences, consider the resources they may need, to think flexibly and consider alternatives, to develop strategies and to consider other people who may be able to help them.  They write that these habits of mind transcend the subject traditionally taught in schools and that they are relevant to success all areas of life.

Photo Credit:  Why by Silvain Masson, 2009  AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

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