32 Habits That Make Thinkers

nasa-goddard-make-thinkers-habits-that-make-thinkers32 Habits That Make Thinkers

by Terry Heick

The difference between students and learners is something we’ve discussed before. On the surface it’s a matter of tone and compliance, but it also has to do with purpose–why are they learning? How much of themselves are invested in the process? And does it lead to personal change, or mere performance?

So below are 32 habits–or strategies, actions, or behaviors–that can lead to that critical shift that moves students from mere students to learners who are able to think critically for themselves. Key themes? Patience, scale, and perspective.

32 Habits That Make Thinkers

1. Doesn’t always seek to please others

2. Is a charismatic listener

3. Can learn from anything

4. Asks “Why?” almost annoyingly

5. Is comfortable with uncertainty

6. Writes for their own understanding, not performance

7. Values questions over answers

8. Thinks laterally, endlessly connecting this to that, here to there

9. Uses divergent thinking

10. Can move back and forth from micro to macro thinking

11. Reads for pleasure

12. Looks for patterns

13. Studies the nuance of things (because it’s interesting)

14. Sees every situation as something new, because it is

15. Asks what they’re missing or haven’t considered

16. Playfully reframes and/or improves questions

17. Relates humility to learning, and vice-versa

18. Can instantly separate fact from opinion

19. Resists confirmation bias (i.e., they instead analyze then draw conclusions)

20. Doesn’t follow crowds

21. Articulates their own thinking without prompting (often creatively)

22. Designs learning pathways effortlessly–they just go

23. Socializes thinking for collaboration rather than approval

24. Sees learning as inseparable from living

25. Reflects for analysis rather than judgment

26. Uses emotion to catalyze their intellect

27. Sees situations from multiple perspectives

28. Plays with ideas (without being told)

29. Can think with simplicity about complexity, and with complexity about simplicity

30. Demonstrates an insatiable curiosity for something (may not always be what’s academic or convenient)

31. Seeks to be both rational and ridiculous in their thinking

32. Shows patience (by “dwelling with” questions, texts, or problems)


33.  Finds the complexity within the mundane

Adapted Image attribution flickr user nasagoddardspaceflightcenter; 32 Habits That Make Thinkers

Terry Heick

Terry Heick

Director at TeachThought
Founder & Director of TeachThought, humanist, technologist, futurist, failed philosopher, macro thinker extraordinaire.