16 Habits of Mind

Developing our boys into future leaders

16 Habits of Mind

The Habits of Mind are an identified set of 16 problem solving, life related skills, necessary to effectively operate in society and promote strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship. The understanding and application of these 16 Habits of Mind serve to provide the boys with skills to work through real life situations that equip them to respond using awareness, thought, and intentional strategy in order to gain a positive outcome. (Costa, A. and Kallick, B. (2000) Habits of Mind. A Developmental Series.)

In 2015, these Habits of Mind were introduced into the academic curriculum throughout the whole school. These Habits are the basic building blocks for successful and effective life – long learning. Time was spent making these Habits suit WHPS. It was imperative that everyone bought into the drive and felt that it was truly reflective of WHPS. The language and descriptions were edited to suit WHPS and the graphics and symbols for each Habit were especially designed for WHPS.

This will be an on-going ever important facet of our education philosophy. The Habits are printed in the diary each week and parents are encouraged to discuss them with their sons at home.

The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you. —B. B. King

Focus on:

Habit # 15 Thinking Interdependently

 

“Work Together; Learn Together!”

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

 

Thinking interdependently entails the following four characteristics:

  1. Positive Interdependence.

This means that the group sinks or swims together, that they rely on each other. There should be one group goal, not multiple individual goals. Think of sport teams and how they work together? The UBUNTU philosophy of “I am because we are” is encouraged in all aspects of WHPS’ life.

  1. Individual Accountability.

Each person should be responsible for their part. Although the task must be a joint task, each person has a role and must be held accountable for completing their part. The recent Combined Choirs Festival was a perfect example of how each boy performed his role to the very best of his ability so that the overall success was enjoyed by all.

  1. Equal Participation.

No one can be left to do it all, and no one should be able to opt out. The roles within the group are fairly distributed   according to skills and time. Never has this been more evident than now, with staff members taking on added responsibilities as the term reaches its conclusion.

  1. Simultaneous Interaction.

To encourage effective group work everyone should be doing something at the same time. We don’t want to encourage the division of labour into a sequence of unrelated tasks. No one should be waiting for others to “do their part.”

The Grade 7 Boys are preparing for their exciting Senior Production and this means everyone needs to be working towards the same end goal.

Take care of each other. Share your energies with the group. No one must feel alone, cut off, for that is when you do not make it.

 

Brigitte Theunissen / Deputy Head Academics

Being persistent means working continuously and not giving up on any given task.

Why is it important? It is important because in order to become successful, you have to know how to be persistent. “Ambition is the ride to success, persistence is the vehicle.”

Every child will experience times that they’re not interested in finishing a book, either because the topic is boring, or they’re ready for another activity. (This is normal!) But persistence in this case means the ability to look for new ways to reach your goal when you’re stuck or face unexpected challenges.

Even if your child doesn’t show budding signs of persistence now, reading stories about characters that persist through difficult challenges will be a great jumping off point for fostering this behaviour.

Check out these books about characters that face a challenge and overcome it through problem solving:

* Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting
* Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid
* My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
* “I Have a Little Problem,” said the Bear by Heinz Janisch

You can also start by talking and sharing stories about times in your life when you’ve persisted through challenges. If you can’t think of an example, there are lots of children’s movies that show excellent examples of this as well.

Once your child starts to recognise what persistence looks like, you might make up a story together about a character that faces adversity and shows persistence as part of your bedtime routine. Take that one step further and write the story down, so that you can read it together later.

And finally, you can model that behaviour when you face challenges yourself. For example, if you’re driving home from school and face a road block or traffic jam, you might say, “We’’e going to have to figure out another plan for getting home. Let’s move to option two, driving through the park!”

habit-3-listen-with-understanding-and-empathy

Highly effective people spend an inordinate amount of time and energy listening. Some psychologists believe that the ability to listen to another person, to empathize with, and to understand their point of view is one of the highest forms of intelligent behaviour.

We often say we are listening but in actuality, we are rehearsing in our head what we are going to say next when our partner is finished.

Some boys ridicule, laugh at, or put down other boys’ ideas. They interrupt and are unable to build upon, consider the merits of, or operate on another person’s ideas. We want our boys to learn to devote their mental energies to another person and invest themselves in their partner’s ideas.

This does not mean that we can’t disagree with someone. A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa

How do we encourage our boys to develop this habit? We need to focus on the following important skills:
* Pay attention when someone speaks
* Engage in eye contact
* Nod and respond
* Indicate a level of understanding
* Avoid interruptions
* Give feedback
* Discuss with the boys how it makes you feel when someone really listens to you

habit-7-question-and-solve-problems

“How many times can you subtract 7 from 83, and what is left afterwards? You can subtract it as many times as you want, and it leaves 76 every time.”

One of the distinguishing characteristics between humans and other forms of life is our inclination, and ability to FIND problems to solve. Effective problem solvers know how to ask questions to fill in the gaps between what they know and what they don’t know.

Effective questioners are inclined to ask a range of questions. For example: requests for data to support others’ conclusions and assumptions-such questions as:

“What evidence do you have…?”

“How do you know that’s true?”

Inquirers recognise discrepancies and phenomena in their environment and probe into their causes: “Why do cats purr?”
“How high can birds fly?”
“Why does the hair on my head grow so fast, while the hair on my arms and legs grows so slowly?” “What would happen if we put the saltwater fish in a fresh water aquarium?”

In every lesson, teachers encourage the asking of questions. We always pose those critical thinking questions which encourage debate. The Grade 5-7 boys have been exposed to many problem solving questions in Mathematics to encourage them to develop their skills to persevere and to solve sometimes rather challenging questions.

A wonderful website for both parents and boys to spend some quality time grappling with puzzles and riddles is: http://www.transum.org

Parents are reminded to encourage questions at home and to spend quality time together researching problems. Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.

habit-8-apply-past-knowledge-to-new-situations

“To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it,
and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.”

~ Margaret Fairless Barber

We learn from experience. When in a new and complicated problem, we will often use experience from our past. We can often be heard to say, “This reminds me of…” or “This is just like the time when I…”

We explain what we are doing now in terms of similarity in previous experiences. We call our store of knowledge and experience as roots of data to help, ways to explain, or ways to solve each new challenge. We are also able to take out the meaning from one experience, carry it forth, and use it in a new and original situation.

Here is something you can do with your son at home:

Think about a difficult time for you that you wish you had the chance to change. Examples might be a fight with a family member, a tough subject in school, or a time that you didn’t ask for help but could have.

Draw a timeline of events that led up to the problem and what happened after you tried to resolve the problem. Include all details that you can remember.

Looking back on this event and all that led up to it and resulted from it, what knowledge have you gained from this experience? Draw a picture or make a sketch that represents that knowledge. For example, a clock face would represent knowledge of time management. How can you apply this knowledge to future situations?

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

habit-10-gathering-data-through-all-senses

“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” ~ Eden Phillpotts

Intelligent people know that all information gets into the brain through the sensory pathways: gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinaesthetic, auditory, visual. Most linguistic, cultural, and physical learning is derived from the environment by observing or taking in through the senses.

To know a wine it must be drunk; to know a role it must be acted; to know a game it must be played; to know a dance it must be moved; to know a goal it must be envisioned. Those whose sensory pathways are open, alert, and acute absorb more information from the environment than those whose pathways are closed.

* To learn the feel of something you must touch it.
* To learn what something sounds like you must hear it.
* To learn what something tastes like you must try it.
* To learn what something looks like you must see it.
* To learn what something smells like you must smell it.

Let us find ways to encourage our boys to be active participants in the joy of learning. Here are some fun ways to develop this Habit:

* Sight- have a blurry picture on the computer and guess who it is in the picture.
* Smell- have a smelly stick and guess what it is.
* Touch- stick your hand in a box and fell something and guess what it is.
* Taste- Have a taste of some cookies and guess what flavour.
* Hear- Listen to a song and guess who sings it.

“Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”

habit-11-create-imagine-and-innovate

George Kneller said, “To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”

All human beings have the capacity to generate novel, original, clever or ingenious products, solutions, and techniques – if that capacity is developed. Creative human beings try to conceive problem solutions differently, examining alternative possibilities from many angles. They tend to project themselves into different roles using analogies, starting with a vision and working backward, imagining they are the objects being considered.

Creative people take risks and frequently push the boundaries of their perceived limits.

They are intrinsically rather than extrinsically motivated, working on the task because of the aesthetic challenge rather than the material rewards. Creative people are open to criticism. They hold up their products for others to judge and seek feedback in an ever-increasing effort to refine their technique.

Students, however, are often heard saying, “I can’t draw,” “I was never very good at art,” “I can’t sing a note,” “I’m not creative”.

Some people believe creative humans are just born that way; in their genes and chromosomes. This is far from the truth. Being creative is something that they must work at, not something they are born with.

The Grade 1 and Grade 5 boys have shown their creative and innovative spirit in their ECO-EDUCATION theme. The Grade 1 boys created delightful Earth Boxes and they planted vegetable seeds, while Grade 5 planted mustard seeds to create the leaves for their tree project.

We need to help our children see that there are many ways to generate ideas and solve problems. Let’s help them take risks and push themselves so that they grow.

habit-14-finding-humour

“Laughter is by definition healthy.” ~ Doris Lessing

Another unique attribute of human beings is our sense of humour. Laughter transcends all human beings. Its’ positive effects on psychological functions include a drop in the pulse rate, the secretion of endorphins, an increased oxygen in the blood.

It has been found to liberate creativity and provoke such higher level thinking skills as anticipation, finding novel relationships, visual imagery, and making analogies. People who engage in the mystery of humour have the ability to perceive situations from an original and often interesting vantage point.

We want our boys to acquire the characteristic of creative problem solvers; they can distinguish between situations of human frailty and fallibility which are in need of compassion and those which are truly funny.

It is important to teach our boys how to laugh with their friends, rather than to laugh at others. By finding the light side of life, we manage to cope better.

Laughing is something we all can share. Although it arrives in many forms it is a typical daily emotion for most people. Joy through laughter is everywhere.

Many people find themselves laughing at themselves, with others, and in stressful or awkward situations. There really is no limit to where laughter can be found

 habit-15-thinking-interdependently

Thinking Interdependently – Being able to work in and learn from others in reciprocal situations.

“Work together; Learn together!” is our WHPS Habit for the week!

Thinking interdependently entails the following four characteristics:

1. Positive Interdependence.

This means that the group sinks or swims together, that they rely on each other. There should be one group goal, not multiple individual goals. Think of sport teams and how they work together? The UBUNTU philosophy of “I am because we are” is encouraged in all aspects of WHPS’ life.

2. Individual Accountability.

Each person should be responsible for their part. Although the task must be a joint task, each person has a role and must be held accountable for completing their part. The recent Grade 1 Play was a perfect example of how each little boy performed his role to the very best of his ability so that the overall success was enjoyed by all.

3. Equal Participation.

No one can be left to do it all, and no one should be able to opt out. The roles within the group are fairly distributed according to skills and time. Never has this been more evident than now, with staff members taking on added responsibilities as the year reaches its conclusion.

4. Simultaneous Interaction.

To encourage effective group work everyone should be doing something at the same time. We don’t want to encourage the division of labour into a sequence of unrelated tasks. No one should be waiting for others to “do their part.”

The Grade 7 Boys are preparing for their exciting Leavers’ Dinner and this means everyone needs to be working towards the same end goal.

Take care of each other. Share your energies with the group. No one must feel alone, cut off, for that is when you do not make it.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Mother Teresa

Top