The Culture of “School”

culturesofthinkingI’m revisiting my highlights in Ron Richhart’s Creating Culture of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. A revisit to any great text surfaces new questions. One of my biggest questions drawn from the text is What kind of intellectual life are we surrounding our children with at home, school and in the classroom?

You’d think the “intellectual life” would be a natural focus of our schools, but creating a culture of thinking is confounded by the fact that the natural disposition of many schools these days is to act as a sifting and sorting mechanism. From p. 23:

  • you either fit in or you don’t
  • there’s no place for dialog and conversation
  • learning requires individual seat work and practice
  • learning is competitive, not cooperative
  • being fast means you’re smart
  • there’s no time for questioning
  • learning is all about getting the grade

How many of our learners have a fixed mindset reinforced by the culture of the “school”? How many of our teachers are the same way? I think it might be interesting to have conversations with teachers, students and parents like those shared in the article How can students be successful in a high stakes world? The author suggests many of the issues above can be addressed through the “ABCs of engagement”: affective, behavioral and cognitive engagement, with cognitive being the one lost in most of our schools. I think the ideas in Creating Cultures of Thinking can help us move toward better engagement in all three areas, particularly the cognitive.

Join Erin Murphy (@MurphysMusings5) and me on Wednesday, August 26, 8 PM, on #currichat to talk some more about cultures of thinking.

What kind of intellectual life do you surround your children with at home, school and in the classroom?


2 comments on “The Culture of “School”

  1. I like that there were many times in the book when the author mentioned the conversations that we were having in our home as well as the conversations in our schools. One thing that I’ve done at home with my children is emphasize the fact that “smart is not a destination.” We talk a lot about learning more every day and discuss that learning comes from asking questions and trying new things. In return, my daughter asks A LOT of questions. I often wonder what her teacher will think of all these questions, because I’m not sure that all of our classrooms are ready for the fire hydrant of questions. Will our culture of questioning at home out last a classroom which may stifle it?

    • Yes….we do tend to crush curiosity as a result of the “urgent” such as staying on pace with curriculum and prepping for tests. That’s where leadership has to model and provide space for inquiry. Thanks for commenting, Erin.

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