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 School Improvement:  Habits of Mind
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More so than ever before, it is clear that a small dose of prevention is better than a large dose of cure. As part of their bread and butter curriculum, children need exposure to the attitudes, ways of thinking and values that, when internalised, will help them master the world of schoolwork and get along in their social environment. We need to teach basic academic and subject matter skills, and knowledge, hand in hand with instruction on how to manage what they are learning, their relationships with others and their feelings about themselves.

In this curriculum, students are taught the Habits of the Mind required for them to be successful in school and in life. 

Habits of the Mind are defined as established tendencies or trends of the mind to think in ways that lead to the individual students experiencing certain feelings and performing certain acts. 

The Habits of the Mind of concern in this curriculum of lessons are those which lead students to experience the emotions, motivation and behaviours which are the foundations of achievement, namely:

  1. Feelings of confidence and lack of excessive worry
  2. Positive thoughts & feelings about self
  3. Feelings of frustration, annoyance and irritation rather than extreme anger or rage
  4. Setting and being fully committed to achieving high, realistic goals
  5. Personal responsibility for the effects of one's behaviour and for one's degree of success in school
  6. Effective use of one's time
  7. Effort and persistence (time on task)
  8. Assertive behaviour (rather than aggression/withdrawal) including successful conflict resolution and friendship making skills

The goals of the curriculum are not only to teach students the attitudes which underlie success, but to also inculcate these attitudes as Habits of the Mind. Habits of the Mind are acquired through frequent repetition and awareness that they contribute to success.

Recent research conducted by Bernard has revealed that underachieving students from a variety of cultural backgrounds lack key Habits of the Mind that have been acquired by achieving students. This is true for students of differing ability and grade levels. The Habits of the Mind taught in this curriculum of lessons are: