Creating a Culture of Thinking


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  • So what does Cultures of Thinking mean to us in museums
  • 8 forces that shape group culture and require attention
  • Creating a Culture of Thinking

    1. 1. Creating a Culture of Thinking: A New Kind of Docent Education Program Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums Annual Meeting October 25, 2010
    2. 2. National Gallery of Art Teacher, School, and Family Programs Heidi Hinish, Head of Department Elizabeth Diament, Museum Educator Christine Stinson, School Docent Candidate
    3. 3. The Big Question • How can we create a docent education program that models the same kinds of teaching and learning that should happen on school tours?
    4. 4. In Our Session In Our Session …In • An overview of Cultures of Thinking and the eight cultural forces that define and shape a group’s experience, as defined by Ron Ritchhart (researcher at Harvard Project Zero). • A case study of how Ritchhart’s framework informed the National Gallery’s new approach to docent education. • Using a Project Zero thinking routine, discuss how these ideas could be applied to your learning setting .
    5. 5. Cultures of Thinking Project • Ritchhart’s research focuses on understanding how to develop, nurture, and sustain thoughtful learning environments. • Part of a larger initiative called Visible Thinking led by researchers at Harvard University’s Project Zero. • Culture of Thinking projects are taking place in schools in Australia and the U.S. These projects look at the process of creating a school-wide culture of thinking that supports the development of students' thinking dispositions.
    6. 6. “Cultures of Thinking are places where a group’s collective, as well as individual thinking, is valued, visible, and actively promoted, as part of the ongoing experience of all group members.” (Ron Ritchhart)
    7. 7. The 8 Cultural Forces • The modeling of the group leader. • The way time is allocated. • The way language and conversation are used. • The interactions and relationships that unfold. • The expectations that are communicated. • The opportunities that are created. • The routines and structures that are put into place. • The way the environment is set-up and utilized.
    8. 8. Modeling • “It is who we are as thinkers and learners, and what we do, that helps create a culture of thinking?” (Ritchhart) • As a learner, how can I understand a work of art? As a teacher, how can I help students understand a work of art? (school docent candidate education throughline)
    9. 9. Time • “..thinking requires time.” (Ritchhart) • “Without the time to engage properly with an object or idea, an opportunity for thinking can feel hollow.” (Ritchhart)
    10. 10. Time Time for: o Prolonged looking o Building descriptions o Wondering and puzzling o Developing interpretations o Creating conversations
    11. 11. Time • “..thinking requires time.”(Ritchhart) • “Without the time to engage properly with an object or idea, an opportunity for thinking can feel hollow.” (Ritchhart) • Less really is more: by slowing down and looking carefully at a few works of art, students have the opportunity to think creatively and critically. (
    12. 12. Language • Inclusive language • Language of thinking • Language of personal agency • Non-judgmental feedback • Language of art
    13. 13. Relationships and Interactions • “In museums, collaborative learning has been shown to enhance the meaning students make of objects.” (John Falk) • Now I realize the group can be more enlightening and enlightened than the individual, and we all bring our life experience to the seeing and understanding of a work of art. (school docent candidate)
    14. 14. Docent Perspective: Was the tour observation form helpful? • Framework or lens through which to examine the tour • Helpful by having specific criteria to look for • Cognizant of time
    15. 15. Docent Perspective: Did we learn anything from the exercise? • Observed great variety in tours • Thinking must be flexible and nimble • Thoughts of lecturing dissipated
    16. 16. Docent Perspective: Did the form help generate discussion about tours and teaching? • Excited discussion of what worked • Shared activities, what had meaning to children • Making Thinking Visible
    17. 17. Docent Perspective: Did a culture of thinking about art and teaching develop? What did that look like? • Informal coffee before class, wide-ranging discussions • Group hungers to hear from each other • Candidate are starting a web site to share ideas • Ask questions, culture of trust • Thinking in the wild
    18. 18. Connect│Extend│Challenge • How do the ideas presented today, including the 8 cultural forces, connect to the work that I am already doing? • What new ideas have surfaced that extend or push my thinking in new directions, as a result of today’s session? • What are some challenges involved in taking these ideas back to my museum? What questions or puzzles do I have now?
    19. 19. "For classrooms to be cultures of thinking for students, schools must be cultures of thinking for teachers.” (
    20. 20. For school tours to be cultures of thinking for students, museums must be cultures of thinking for docents.
    21. 21. Thank you for coming! Heidi Hinish, Elizabeth Diament, Christine Stinson,