Manual You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind That Really Determine How We Make Decisions

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Some students may be unaware of the functions, classes, syntax, or intentions in questions. They may not realize that questions vary in complexity, structure, and purpose. They may pose simple questions intending to derive maximal results. When confronted with a discrepancy, they may lack an overall strategy to search for and find a solution. I've never made a mistake. I've only learned from experience. Intelligent humans learn from experience. When confronted with a new and perplexing problem, they will draw forth experiences from their past.

They often can be heard to say, "This reminds me of …" or "This is just like the time when I …" They explain what they are doing now with analogies about or references to their experiences. They call upon their store of knowledge and experience as sources of data to support, theories to explain, or processes to solve each new challenge. They are able to abstract meaning from one experience, carry it forth, and apply it in a novel situation.

Too often, students begin each new task as if it were being approached for the first time. Teachers are dismayed when they invite students to recall how they solved a similar problem previously—and students don't remember. It's as if they had never heard of it before, even though they recently worked with the same type of problem! It seems each experience is encapsulated and has no relationship to what has come before or what comes after.

Their thinking is what psychologists refer to as an "episodic grasp of reality" Feuerstein et al. Their learning is so encapsulated that they seem unable to draw it forth from one event and apply it in another context. I do not so easily think in words.

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Language refinement plays a critical role in enhancing a person's cognitive maps and ability to think critically, which is the knowledge base for efficacious action. Enriching the complexity and specificity of language simultaneously produces effective thinking. Language and thinking are closely entwined; like either side of a coin, they are inseparable. Fuzzy, vague language is a reflection of fuzzy, vague thinking. Intelligent people strive to communicate accurately in both written and oral form, taking care to use precise language; defining terms; and using correct names, labels, and analogies.

They strive to avoid overgeneralizations, deletions, and distortions.

Instead, they support their statements with explanations, comparisons, quantification, and evidence. We sometimes hear students and adults using vague and imprecise language. They describe objects or events with words like weird, nice , or OK. They name specific objects using such nondescriptive words as stuff, junk, things , and whatever. They punctuate sentences with meaningless interjections like ya know, er , and uh. They use vague or general nouns and pronouns: " They told me to do it," " Everybody has one," or " Teachers don't understand me.

Observe perpetually.


The brain is the ultimate reductionist. It reduces the world to its elementary parts: photons of light, molecules of fragrance, sound waves, vibrations of touch—all of which send electrochemical signals to individual brain cells that store information about lines, movements, colors, smells, and other sensory inputs. Intelligent people know that all information gets into the brain through sensory pathways: gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, and visual.

Most linguistic, cultural, and physical learning is derived from the environment by observing or taking it 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 performed; 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 withered, immune, and oblivious to sensory stimuli. The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is. This redundancy means students will have more opportunities to pull up all those related bits of data from their multiple storage areas in response to a single cue.

The Power of Habits

This cross-referencing of data strengthens the data into something that's learned rather than just memorized Willis, We are learning more and more about the impact of the arts and music on improved mental functioning. Forming mental images is important in mathematics and engineering; listening to classical music seems to improve spatial reasoning. Social scientists use scenarios and role playing; scientists build models; engineers use CAD-CAM; mechanics learn through hands-on experimentation; artists explore colors and textures; and musicians combine instrumental and vocal music.

Some students, however, go through school and life oblivious to the textures, rhythms, patterns, sounds, and colors around them.

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Sometimes children are afraid to touch things or get their hands dirty. Some don't want to feel an object that might be slimy or icky. They operate within a narrow range of sensory problem-solving strategies, wanting only to describe it but not illustrate or act it, or to listen but not participate. The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating.

The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination. All human beings have the capacity to generate novel, clever, or ingenious products, solutions, and techniques— if that capacity is developed Sternberg, Creative human beings try to conceive solutions to problems differently, examining alternative possibilities from many angles. They tend to project themselves into different roles using analogies, starting with a vision and working backward, and imagining they are the object being considered.

Creative people take risks and frequently push the boundaries of their perceived limits Perkins, 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 they seek feedback in an ever-increasing effort to refine their technique. They are uneasy with the status quo.

They constantly strive for greater fluency, elaboration, novelty, parsimony, simplicity, craftsmanship, perfection, beauty, harmony, and balance. Students, however, often are heard saying "I can't draw," "I was never very good at art," "I can't sing a note," or "I'm not creative. The most beautiful experience in the world is the experience of the mysterious.

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They seek intriguing phenomena. They search for problems to solve for themselves and to submit to others.

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They delight in making up problems to solve on their own, and they so enjoy the challenge of problem solving that they seek perplexities and puzzles from others. They enjoy figuring things out by themselves, and they continue to learn throughout their lifetimes. One efficacious person is chemist Ahmed H. Zewail, a Nobel Prize winner, who said that he had a passion to understand fundamental processes: "I love molecules. I want to understand why do they do what they do" Cole, Some children and adults avoid problems and are turned off to learning. They make such comments as "I was never good at these brain teasers," "Go ask your father; he's the brain in this family," "It's boring," "When am I ever going to use this stuff," "Who cares," "Lighten up, teacher; thinking is hard work," or "I don't do thinking!

Many people perceive thinking as hard work, and they recoil from situations that demand too much of it. We want students to be curious, to commune with the world around them, to reflect on the changing formations of a cloud, to feel charmed by the opening of a bud, to sense the logical simplicity of mathematical order.

Intelligent people find beauty in a sunset, intrigue in the geometric shapes of a spider web, and exhilaration in the iridescence of a hummingbird's wings. They marvel at the congruity and intricacies in the derivation of a mathematical formula, recognize the orderliness and adroitness of a chemical change, and commune with the serenity of a distant constellation.

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We want students to feel compelled, enthusiastic, and passionate about learning, inquiring, and mastering Costa, There has been a calculated risk in every stage of American development—the pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, businessmen who were not afraid of failure, dreamers who were not afraid of action. Risk takers seem to have an almost uncontrollable urge to go beyond established limits.

They are uneasy about comfort; they live on the edge of their competence. They seem compelled to place themselves in situations in which they do not know what the outcome will be. They accept confusion, uncertainty, and the higher risks of failure as part of the normal process, and they learn to view setbacks as interesting, challenging, and growth producing.

However, responsible risk takers do not behave impulsively. Their risks are educated. They draw on past knowledge, are thoughtful about consequences, and have a well-trained sense of what is appropriate. They know that all risks are not worth taking. Risk takers can be considered in two categories: those who see the risk as a venture and those who see it as adventure. The venture part of risk taking might be described in terms of what a venture capitalist does. When a person is approached to take the risk of investing in a new business, she will look at the markets, see how well organized the ideas are, and study the economic projections.

If she finally decides to take the risk, it is a well-considered one. The adventure part of risk taking might be described by the experiences from Project Adventure. In this situation, there is a spontaneity, a willingness to take a chance in the moment. Once again, a person will take the chance only if experiences suggest that the action will not be life threatening or if he believes that group support will protect him from harm e.

Ultimately, people learn from such high-risk experiences that they are far more able to take actions than they previously believed. Risk taking becomes educated only through repeated experiences.