Cultures of Thinking is an educational framework developed by the Project Zero team at Harvard University. The framework brings to light the eight cultural forces that are at play in our classrooms: Expectations, Language, Time, Opportunities, Routines, Environment, Interactions, and Modeling. These forces are at play in every classroom; CoT provides tools for the teacher to properly harness these forces to produce 21st century, globally minded learners and thinkers. Teachers can use a variety of methods to create a Culture of Thinking in their classrooms, such as allowing critical time when asking and answering questions, using key language to drive deep thinking, allowing key interactions to occur among the students, to name a few. The tools are varied and many, and since this is a framework, not a program, it isn't a matter of doing a couple of things and suddenly the classroom is transformed - CoT is an iterative, exciting, and invigorating journey.
Many times over the past year I've heard people say, 'Well, I can see implementing a CoT in humanities, but it won't work in the Math classroom.' My response to this has been, 'Wait, there isn't any thinking in Math classrooms?' Hmmmmm. After spending the better part of four years on this framework, and doing an extensive study on the book, "Creating Cultures of Thinking", I can assure you that creating a Culture of Thinking in Math class is possible, re-invigorating, and your students will thank you for it!
How can you begin to transform your class and begin to implement a Culture of Thinking in your math classroom? Well, the good news is that you are probably already doing many things that address some or all of the eight cultural forces.
Here are some ideas to get started:
Jeff Watson is a Math teacher at the International Academy East in Troy, MI. His work as a software engineer made him realize the need for problem solvers and critical thinkers in the workplace today. Jeff believes that the secondary math classroom should be a place of critical thinking, collaborative learning, and exploration which will cultivate the problem solvers and thinkers needed today.