What strikes you about this picture of an iceberg?
It was designed to depict something that is unobservable but which exerts an enormous influence over the thinking, feelings and behaviours of young people today; namely, Habits of the Mind. We have discovered that young people develop from an early age two sets of Habits of the Mind – positive and negative. Even children of very young ages develop habits in the way they think. These “Habits of the mind” have a tremendous impact on their emotions, their behaviour and as a result their school achievement, relationships and emotional wellbeing.
Those young people who consistently achieve while forming positive relationships and enjoying positive health and wellbeing have well-developed positive habits of the Mind and possess fewer negative ones.
Many of you who are familiar with You Can Do It! Education know we emphasise in all our programs the teaching of five social-emotional skills: confidence, persistence, organisation, getting along and resilience. What is, perhaps, less well known is that in You Can Do It! Education we also believe that in order to bring out the best in young people and eliminate the worst, we also need to teach positive Habits of the Mind and eliminate the negative.
Habits of the Mind are the beliefs people hold about themselves, other people and the world. They determine how young people interpret and evaluate the world around them. While people are often unaware of their Habits of Mind, they nonetheless guide the way young people think about what happens which, in turn, largely determines how they feel and behave. In the picture, you will notice there are five “levers” representing five of the twelve Habits of the Mind we teach in You Can Do It! Education. You will notice that some of the levers are in the low position showing that the Habit of the Mind is not well developed. Other Habits of the Mind are in the medium or high positions. You will also see that the arms of the boy stretch to control the levels. This demonstrates that young people have the power to strengthen their Habits of the Mind – with the help of parents and teachers.
Positive Habits of the Mind are true, sensible and helpful whereas negative Habits of the Mind are not true (not based on fact), not sensible or logical and are unhelpful.
As you examine each Habit of the Mind below, consider how strongly each of these Habits of the Mind are developed in your students. Examine the positive and then look below to see the matched negative Habit of the Mind.