Rohan taught me to always introduce all 16 Habits of Mind.
I often get asked “which Habit of Mind should I start with?” and my answer is always “All of them.” Although we might choose to focus on just a few Habits of Mind, if we don’t at least mention the others, we might be robbing students of the opportunity of finding their most important Habit of Mind.
It was the end of the school year and I told my class I was about to talk to a group of teachers that were interested in Habits of Mind. I asked them if anyone had something they thought it was important for me to tell these teachers. Rohan immediately put up his hand.
To be honest, I thought Rohan was going to say that Habits of Mind were a waste of time. He hadn’t seemed to engage in the classes where we taught them directly, and frankly he tended to say school was a waste of time. So taking 10 minutes out of class time with an open invitation from me to tell me the Habits were a waste of time too seemed like a safe bet.
As Rohan walked through my office door he asked, “Are you going to teach these to next years students? These are so important”
Puzzled, I asked Rohan to explain. He describe how “Just that one I use makes such a difference to me!” He even offered to go to next years classes and “make them use the Habits of Mind”.
Cautiously I asked which Habit of Mind was the “one he used”. It wasn’t obvious. Rohan wasn’t the most academic student, he’d been in his fair share of trouble throughout the year. And he had ADHD.
Rohan replied, “The one with the Bridge”. He was talking about Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations. I was taken aback. I’d barely mentioned Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations all year. Choosing instead to focus on Managing Impusivity, Striving For Accuracy and a few others that seemed much more relevant – especially for Rohan.
He explained to me that he had just got thinking about this one when he was in class one day. Staring out the window, the poster of Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations “got in his way” and made him think.
When I asked Rohan why he thought that one was so important, he told me this story:
It’s like that time I swore in the yard Mr Anderson. If I had just thought back to the last time I did that, I could have thought to look around and see if the teacher was standing behind me before I did it again!
For Rohan this was a very important (and relevant!) lesson. It was something he hadn’t really considered before.
Recall that Rohan suffered from ADHD. He experienced what psychologists refer to as an eposodic grasp of reality. Becoming aware of Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations made him start to connect his experiences more deliberately. it made “such a difference” to his life.
But for putting a poster on a wall, and spending only a short period mentioning all the Habits of Mind, including Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations, I might have robbed Rohan of the opportunity to learn this valuable lesson.
I always introduce all 16 Habits of Mind to my students. It’s simple, and can make such a difference.