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‘Grit’ your Teeth...

Posted on the 25th May 2016

If only students would “grit their teeth” as the expression goes, bear down, focus, decrease impulsivity, increase perseverance, and gain resilience!  


Some researchers and educators are saying that this is now the magic for success.  These folks like to say that “non-cognitive” behaviors are what we all need to focus on as if these dispositions are somehow disconnected from thinking processes.  It is… magical thinking.

In 1981, I was invited to some presentations by Dr. Art Costa who was then was bringing forward his model of “12 Intelligent Behaviors” (which became 16 Habits of Mind).   Art has been a mentor of mine ever since and I’ve just had a delightful lunch with him a few weeks ago.  As I was developing the Thinking Maps model, Art and I had many interesting conversations including how the focus on cognition, visual patterning of thinking, and metacognition were directly facilitating students’ Habits of Mind.  

Some years ago both Art and I worked with a school in the US where the student centered models of Thinking Maps and Habits of Minds were used with fluency and fully integrated into all classrooms.  Art asked me to write up this case study for a seminal book “Activating Habits of Mind.”  Here is a clear example of how 6 and 7 year old students in a classroom had become fluent with Thinking Maps and were simultaneously developing Habits of Mind. 

The students read two stories:  The Lion and the Mouse and How the Lion Learned to be King.  Their analysis and dialogue is guided by a novice teacher using Thinking Maps.


Please download the complete chapter revealing the deeper connections between  Thinking Maps and Habits of Mind (cognition and dispositions) and go beyond the false dichotomy between “cognitive” and “non-cognitive” processes. Download: Activating Habits of Mind Chapter 9 – Thinking Maps: Visual Tools for activating Habits of Mind.

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