Article Analysis of 'Habits of Mind'

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In an article titled "Habits of Mind: An Organizing Principle for Mathematics Curriculum" (n.d.), Cuoco, Goldenberg and Mark call for a new approach to designing mathematics curricula for the future. As they point out, it is impossible to know all that the future holds: "Past experience tells us that today's first graders will graduate high school most likely facing problems that do not yet exist" (Cuoco et al., p. 1). Students have been taught mathematics in the same way for a long time, the authors claim. Students have been given "a bag of facts" to use in their approach to problem-solving. The "bags" have changed according to newer or more fashionable ideas, substituting, for example, fractal geometry for Euclidean geometry. The underlying pedagogy, however, has remained essentially the same. Cuoco et al. assert that a much more effective approach to teaching mathematics facilitates students' development of "habits of mind." Habits of mind are not the sole purview of mathematics; in fact, learning how to think and how to approach problems in a variety of situations are useful skills in all academic content areas as well as in life. For mathematics, Cuoco et al. suggest a number of habits of mind that would ideally be cultivated in students. These include the ability to recognize patterns, to experiment, to describe and defend conclusions, to tinker and to invent, to visualize, and to make guesses and plausible conjectures. By developing these habits of mind, the
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