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 Curriculum News

Habits of Mind - 27/07/16

One of the distinguishing characteristics between humans and other forms of life is our inclination, and ability to FIND problems to solve. Effective problem solvers know how to ask questions to fill in the gaps between what they know and what they don’t know. Effective questioners are inclined to ask a range of questions. For example: requests for data to support others’ conclusions and assumptions—such questions as,

  • “What evidence do you have…..?”
  • “How do you know that’s true?”
  • “How reliable is this data source?”

Questioning and Posing Problems: True inquisitiveness is what drives deep thinking, the kind of wondering that draws the thinker into a complex problem. Adept thinkers find problems where others are satisfied with the status quo, and they are aware of the gaps in their knowledge.

Sometimes in class we are confronted with students who at best will answer questions posed to them, but rarely present their own queries to grapple with. As educators we ponder the reasons behind this phenomenon and ways of encouraging students to be curious. The average pre-schooler apparently asks about 100 questions per day, but by the time they reach middle school we’re lucky if they’ll ask half a dozen. Why? Good question.  One reason could be that school tends to reward answers, not questions, but it’s possibly not as simple as that. Regardless of the reasons behind the drop-off in questions one thing is clear, we need to inspire our students, and indeed people of all ages to ask deeper questions.

If you would like more information about helping your student succeed with the Habits of Mind, please feel free to email me at thammond@bne.catholic.edu.au. 

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Habits of Mind - 13/07/16

It’s hard to think of too many areas of life where accuracy and precision aren’t valued, however, too often we settle for “near enough”. Sometimes near enough is good enough, but as a rule, at Xavier our goal to grow Ignatian learners who strive for accuracy and precision during their journey towards the Magis – it’s how they demonstrate excellence in their academic, sporting and cultural competencies.

Striving for Accuracy and Precision: A sense of craftsmanship is critical for good thinking, a respect for quality and accuracy, and a desire to make things as efficient, beautiful, or clear as possible. Good thinkers are aware of the prevailing criteria for quality in the field they’re working in, and they work as hard as they can to produce work that matches the criteria.

Being accurate and being precise are two different, but closely linked, goals. Accuracy in our work means that we are as close as possible to the accepted value, whereas precision means we are consistently close – repetition can be achieved and the same results recorded. Ignatius, along with the Jesuits of the past and present, never settled for good enough, but was always engaged in the Magis – the “restless pursuit of excellence.” 

Students who value accuracy and precision in their work are showing this restless pursuit for excellence when they check their examinations for errors before handing them in, repeat calculations to ensure precision and proofread their essays before submitting to ensure linguistic accuracy.

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If you would like more information about helping your student succeed with the Habits of Mind, please feel free to email me at thammond@bne.catholic.edu.au