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Creating cultures of thinking in museums with Ron Ritchhart

Creating Cultures of Thinking with Ron Ritchhart & Claire Bown Episode 100 The Art Engager podcast

In this special 100th episode of The Art Engager podcast, I’m chatting to educator, researcher, author, and speaker Dr Ron Ritchhart.

Ron Ritchhart recently retired from his work at Project Zero, (part of Harvard Graduate School of Education) where his main focus was on developing school and classroom culture to help students become powerful thinkers and learners. 

Ron has a strong interest in creating cultures of thinking and has conducted research in intellectual character, mindfulness, thinking dispositions, teaching for understanding, creativity in teaching and the development of communities of practice.

Ron’s research and writings have informed the work of schools, teachers, museum and museum educators throughout the world. He co-authored the book Making Thinking Visible, from 2011, with Karin Morrison and Mark Church and popularised the use of thinking routines to facilitate deep learning and high engagement. 

The follow up book The Power of Making Thinking Visible, introduced a new set of routines and shared what has been learned so far about successfully integrating thinking routines as a powerful teaching tool. 

I’ve written and spoken about the first time I heard the words Visible Thinking and making thinking visible on the very first episode of this podcast, so it seemed fitting to interview Ron for the 100th episode. I’ve also talked about how Ron’s article ‘Cultivating a Culture of Thinking in the Museum in the Journal of Museum Education had a huge impact on me and on my first educational programme to use thinking routines in 2011. So to speak to Ron today was a bit of a ‘pinch-me’ moment.

In this interview, we discuss:

  • what making thinking visible is and the difference between ‘visible’ and ‘visual’ thinking.
  • what strategies we might use to make thinking visible and the transformative impact it has on learning and engagement
  • how we can cultivate a culture of thinking in museums through the eight cultural forces that shape group culture and how they can create an environment where thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted in museum settings.
  • The power of thinking routines as structures to support and guide thinking in museums, and how they work in synergy with other practices
  • the importance of finding your “why” in teaching and facilitating

Thank you to Ron Ritchhart for being a guest on the podcast. Ron’s new book, “Cultures of Thinking in Action,” is out in June 2023. Here’s to 100 episodes of the Art Engager podcast! Enjoy.


06.55 Hi Ron. Welcome to the Art Engager podcast.

Ron Ritchhart: Great to be with you this morning, Claire.

Claire Bown: Thank you for joining me bright and early. So perhaps you could start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you currently do.

Ron Ritchhart: So I have been an, an educator, a researcher for kind of over two decades.

Two years ago during Covid, I took an early retirement from Harvard where I had been a principal investigator and senior researcher there. And I have kind of continued my work. So my research project just kind of switched to another entity outside of Harvard. Working with schools here in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I live continuing to, to write and speak and you know, consult with schools all over the world.

Primarily on the idea of kind of getting students to think. One of my guiding questions is always who are our students becoming as thinkers and learners as a result of their time with us? So helping teachers to lean into that question, to think about the education is so much more than just preparing kids for tests, but it’s about preparing them for life.

And we’re always looking at those deeper issues of engagement, deeper learning that we’re trying to promote. And at the core of all of that, of course, is thinking and getting people to think and facilitating that thinking. So have focused a lot on the development of thinking routines, of what that looks like, simple structures that can scaffold and support learners in their thinking. And so yeah, continue to do all those things.

Claire Bown: I was reading a little bit, diving in to your background, I know you started out as a teacher. I didn’t know that you’d worked as an art teacher.

I knew you were a math teacher at one point. And also that you’d worked as a museum docent and you’d done some work as an educational consultant for museums in the past too. And this podcast is, All about engaging with art and objects in museums. So after starting out , as a teacher, how did you end up at Project Zero?

Ron Ritchhart: So I was a teacher for about 14 years. Taught, began my teaching career in New Zealand. And then coming back to the states again where I taught art. And then taught elementary school, taught mathematics, as you mentioned. And I was really fortunate enough that someone approached me and you know, said that they really thought that I should pursue a doctorate.

And I had not really considered that at that point because I loved teaching, loved what I was doing. And that just really began to open some possibilities. And I began to kind of explore what that might look like, what the opportunities were, who I might be interested in working with, and that connected me to David Perkins and his work in particularly his book Smart Schools, was very influential for me as a teacher. And so I contacted David and kind of began some conversations with him and that then kind of led me to Harvard and working with, with Project Zero at the same time while I was working on my doctorate there.

Claire Bown: So David Perkins also is a huge influence on my Masters when I was doing that nearly 12 years ago now. So I’ve written about and spoken about. The first time I heard the words visible thinking. I was doing some research in a museum I was working in in Amsterdam in 2011.

And one of the teachers, she was from the International School of Amsterdam, she mentioned these words, visible thinking and making thinking visible. And she said, oh, Claire, you should look into it. I think it has great possibilities within the museum environment. So for those people who might be new to this, could you perhaps explain what you mean by making thinking visible?

Where does it come from and what does it mean?

Ron Ritchhart: Well first, that phrase making thinking visible comes from kind of a, a seminal article by Collins and Brown. Back in, I believe it was around the, the eighties, and they used it to talk about the idea of a cognitive apprenticeship.

And saying that learning and the development of expertise is not just about taking in facts, taking in information, but it’s about learning how that expert thinks. And the only way we can learn how an expert thinks is if the expert makes their thinking visible to us.

And so that was in print, the very first reference to that. A t Project Zero, we’ve had a long kind of interest in thinking, the development of thinking dispositions and supporting people and learning to think. And of course as educators, one of the kind of you know, challenges is that thinking goes on in an individual’s head,

it’s somewhat invisible. We aren’t able to see it and the more we can uncover what an individual is thinking, the more we can externalize that, the more we can make it not just visible with the eye, but apparent. So sometimes it’s through the talking that the thinking is actually made visible or made more apparent there for us.

The more we have that window in the kind of better leg up we have as educators to help those learners move forward. So it gives us such incredibly useful information. So when we use that phrase, making thinking visible, it’s any technique, so it could be through the use of thinking routines, which have been kind of a mainstay of what we’ve done, could be through the, the questioning that we’re doing could be through documentation.

So any of those kind of techniques are ways to kind of externalise the thinking process to give us that important window in. And once that becomes kind of a key, once we as educators recognise, boy, in order to do my job better, then I need to know what my learners are thinking. I need to have that window in.

We begin to kind of lean into all of those practices to, to make the thinking visible.

Claire Bown: I love the idea of having a window into people’s minds. David Perkins also talks about looking under the bonnet. You know, most of the time our thoughts are under the bonnets in our heads and we don’t articulate them.

You also mentioned something that I’d like to clear up as well. Something that happens quite often is that visible is often confused with visual. So when you say visible, what do you mean exactly?

Ron Ritchhart: So we would kind of say that word visible. We would use it as a synonym for being more apparent. So it’s you know, or you could just simply contrast it with no longer invisible. So we want to make sure the thinking is no longer invisible, that it is more apparent to us.

And of course, visual thinking would be very particular about the way that we are looking.

The way that our eyes are able to take in information, the way we’re able to kind of train our eyes looking at visual stimuli as well. So that broader kind of picture of just being apparent no longer visible is what we’re talking about.

Claire Bown: Yeah. That it’s not just concerned with perception basically.

Ron Ritchhart: Yes. Yeah.

Claire Bown: Yep. So if we look at the museum environment this is where most of the, the listeners listening to this podcast will be working. What are some of the ways we can make our thinking visible there?

Ron Ritchhart: Well, you know, one of the, the oldest ways in which educators have always helped to kind of get that window in to other people’s thinking is by asking questions.

And so and these aren’t just fact-based questions. Who painted this? You know, what’s the technique? But, you know what strikes you? What are you noticing? How are you interpreting that? So questions that ask people to think. Ask people to respond to that. Simply following up with responses that people make with a simple question.

What makes you say that? So that we get that layer behind the initial response. I mean, that’s, an incredibly kind of powerful question. And I often say, you know, just by way of kind of explaining what thinking routines are, what makes you say that is kind of the epitome of a thinking routine.

Because once you begin asking, what makes you say that in any setting so in that museum setting, in a classroom setting but with a group of people over time, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of time, very quickly, it becomes an expectation very quickly the learners know, oh, She’s gonna follow up with what makes you say that.

And they begin to respond automatically. So that question becomes a routine. It becomes an expectation, oh, this is what’s going to happen, this is how we’re going to unfold, and that’s what we want for a routine. It just becomes part of the fabric of the learning that is happening kind of in that, that situation.

So questioning is a really, you know, key way. The idea of thinking routines are and the thinking routines actually came from the study that I did years ago for my doctorate studying classrooms where, where teachers were really adept at getting students to think and understanding, well, what is it that these teachers do?

And they never once taught a thinking skills lesson. Instead what they did, what I noticed was they had routines. They had structures to help, to scaffold and support their students in thinking. And they used these regularly so that students got kind of really good in operating, you know, within these structures.

So we took this idea from best practice and really developed a, a lot of Other kind of thinking routines. And our goal of doing that is that these always had to be very simple structures. They had to be kind of guiding things, things that you could carry around in your head, you didn’t need, , a whole bunch of things kind of written down for you.

But most of the times it’s kind of two or three kind of simple prompts that kind of take people in. You know, so a good example of that that I know museum educators probably everywhere use, whether they use it formally or informally, is the, the see, think, wonder routine of asking people, you know, well, what are you seeing? What do you notice?

And the idea of when we approach a painting or a work of art. We’re always going to be thinking about what strikes us, what do we notice, and the idea that we want to move beyond the superficial. Of course our eyes are going to be noticing kind of major features first, but as we look longer, we notice more.

So I always say that, you know, See Think Wonder although you’ve got those three kind of words and actions see, think and wonder there, it’s really a set of questions. What do you see and what more do you see and what else can you see?

And when you recognise that as a set of questions, you’ll also recognise it’s a conversation. And so it’s an ongoing conversation in which people build on one another’s ideas. And we engage in that seeing, in that noticing part, because that sets up better interpretation. So that’s the think part. So what do you think’s going on? What do you think that might mean? You know, and and what else might that be?

So that interpretation is going to be much better, if we have done a really kind of rich job of seeing and noticing. and then finally raising those questions and wondering, so what are we kind of wondering about this. And those are, you know, wonderings that go beyond the informational realm. You know, who painted this?

When was this done? You know, that that information is there. We don’t try to necessarily hide that from people, but we’re really encouraging that kind of broader. Kind of questioning in terms of, you know, what are the motives? What were the, the stimulus, you know, why was this done? Those questions that are important drivers of our learning.

So having those kind of simple structures that can guide a conversation that people don’t need to be trained in, in advance. So we say you don’t ever need to kind of teach thinking routines, that the way you teach them is you use them and they’re simple enough that can guide people kind of right through the process in a very, very powerful way.

And I, I wanted to say that you know, See Think Wonder is the most commonly used routine all around the world. And not only museums, but also in classrooms. And, and what I’ve seen of what really kind of makes that kind of elevated, what makes it powerful is always when You know the guide, the docent, the teacher, the educator is interested in what the other people have to say.

If you’re doing it in a perfunctory way, if you’re just trying to get responses and then kind of move on, people pick up on that. Kind of right away. Sometimes teachers will come up with a three column recording sheet and they’ll have students write responses.

That’s not the point. The point is to engage people. And so when you look at, well, if I’m asking people to write down am I really engaging them? I’m not engaging them in conversation. I’m not engaging them with one another, and you’re really not engaging them that significantly with the work. Because there’s a, a really huge problem with asking people to, to write down what they see.

We can look at anything. And we can see hundreds of things and no one’s going to write those down. It’s just too onerous. So when we’re engaged in conversation, you know, we can kind of really move that along.

Claire Bown: I was gonna say that that process builds quite naturally as well.

You hear what somebody’s saying, you see what they’re observing and what they’re noticing and it makes you notice more. And it leads you to new discoveries and new observations. So the fact that it is a discussion makes it so much richer and deeper conversation that it might be than if it was a worksheet, say for example.


Ron Ritchhart: absolutely. Yeah. Recognising that idea that, you know, that again, that big idea of making thinking visible is a motive. It is a goal that we have as educators. And when we have that goal and we lean into that and we are interested, that is what’s going to make a thinking routine work.

Claire Bown: Yeah. And See Think Wonder, probably as you say, the most famous thinking routine known all over the world, it’s like a perfect rounded discussion in one because you start with the observation, you move on to interpretation, you finish with wondering. And having that, semi flexible structure there is useful and beneficial as an educator, as it is for the participants in the group.

I’d like to touch on a couple of things you said. When, when we are looking at thinking routines and this happens a lot in, in my line of work as well. I think there’s a tendency sometimes to think it is all about the thinking routines I know you wrote about this last year in a blog post.

Ron Ritchhart: Yeah. You know, I mean,

 kind of a blessing and a curse here. So when people experience a thinking routine, they often get excited about that. They want to go back and, you know, kind of share that they want to try that out. Absolutely. Kind of valid kind of responses. That we do have to try things out the first time.

It’s great that we have that excitement. I think where we need to kind of perhaps channel that excitement is, it’s not the excitement about the routine, it’s an excitement about what the routine does, that it helps to illuminate people’s thinking. And so when we become really interested in how people think, what they are noticing, what they’re interpreting, what they’re seeing, then that, that is kind of what adds all of that kind of excitement to what we’re doing.

So if we’re just doing it as an activity, people get tired of activities, whether it be in the classroom or whether it be in a museum, and like people will just say, ‘oh, not this again’. But when people see that the routine really exists, not as an activity, it exists as a tool. And we’re using this tool to help us examine, to look at, to notice, to interpret to explore this work of art, that’s what becomes exciting. And so people see that the benefit of using a tool for a purpose. And again, it does come back to us as educators sharing our purpose sharing the routine as a tool, not as an activity.

So we state our purpose, what we’re after, what our goal is, and then the routine exists to kind of support that. So I found that that’s a very important thing for us to do as educators. Have to say at the very beginning of this work you know, some, almost 20 years ago, we encouraged educators to kind of share the name of the, the thinking routine. Now we’re gonna do see, think, wonder, and we’ve since kind of learned that that’s probably not the best way of doing it. That when people say we’re going to to do this, then it does sound like an activity. So particularly one of the things I notice that I do and also encourage other people to do with older students in particular, but also with younger students, is the first time we do a routine, we just do it.

You know? Yeah. That people don’t need to be told. You’re going to do See, thank wonder. You can just say, I’m, I’m interested. What do you see? What do you notice? You know, what else do you notice? What else do you notice? Now based on all of that, I’m wondering how you’re interpreting this. What do you think’s going on?

And we can just guide people through the routine. And then what happens? What happens in the classroom, and I think it happened in the museum equally as well, is then the next time you can say, oh, remember we use this structure to talk about the last work of art. We began with what we noticed, and then we made some interpretations.

Then we raise some questions, we’re gonna do the same thing. So oftentimes what we, I find we do is we actually don’t name the routine until the second time we’ve done, because then we’re just naming a process that people are already familiar with. And we found that to be kind of quite valuable.

Claire Bown: That’s really interesting.

And I do get asked that question as well. I have been asked in, in trainings when I’ve been going into museums, training teams in there do you name the thinking routine? Is it necessary? But I think as you point out as well, it can make it seem like an activity. It can make it seem perhaps a little more artificial than it needs to be

I’d love to. Just touch a little bit on something you said earlier as well about the thinking routine. What makes you say that? Because mm-hmm. When you were talking, you were just reminding me I use a lot. What do you see that makes you say that? Because I’m referring back to the artwork a lot of the time.

But what I noticed with that thinking routine and that question is that yes, at the start of a working relationship with a team, I may use that question a lot, but it becomes redundant after a while because. What I notice and I’ve seen for myself is that the team automatically starts providing the reasoning and the evidence without me having to ask the question.

So is evidence of a thinking routine ‘working’ in inverted commas because it’s not needed anymore?

Ron Ritchhart: Absolutely. So a little bit of play on words the idea is when we’re using thinking routines, we want the thinking to become routine.

So in asking the question, What makes you say that? What do you see that makes you say that? What we’re doing is, we’re saying the thinking that’s involved here is providing evidence and explanation. That’s what’s gonna happen when you ask that question. And so when people automatically begin to offer that, we know that thinking has become routine even though you no longer have to kind of prompt it with the question.

And that’s what we’re after. So when we’re using a say another routine connect, extend challenge, so how does this work of art connect to what we saw in the last gallery? How do you think it extends or adds something new as we think about the idea of portraiture and how artists approach portraiture and what might be the challenges of thinking about this new work of art, wrapping our heads around that. So, you know, we’re wanting people to get used to, ah, I need to be thinking about connections and not just going through a museum looking at, you know what’s famous in this room, what’s famous in this room, what’s famous in this room, but we’re actually gonna be looking at it through how these works of art connect.

And very quickly then you walk into the, the third gallery and they know you know, it’s not just something new, but it’s something we’re connecting on to this theme perhaps we’re looking at in terms of portraiture, and we’re looking at that and I’m thinking about, oh, this is a totally different way of approaching portraiture and what that might mean.

And I’m making that connections and I’m finding the things that are new there and I’m raising kind of questions about the meaning of portraiture. And so we want that thinking again to become routine.

Claire Bown: Yeah. And, and one of the things I was thinking about then as well is how making thinking visible can really change the role of, in the classroom, the teacher and the student, but in the museum specifically between the museum guide, the museum teacher, and the visitors, their participants.

Whereas in the past, you know, if we are looking at a traditional model of delivering guided tours, it was very much a kind of walk and talk. Transmission of information with the audience passively listening. So how do the roles change when you embrace this goal of making thinking visible?

Ron Ritchhart: In the last book that I wrote with my colleague Mark Church on the, the Power of Making Thinking Visible, one of the things we identified as one of the powers, as you mentioned, is the changing roles of the educator, the, the leader there and the learners. In that museum setting as you identified people often come in with expectations. So people come in with a schema of what does it mean to visit a museum? What does it mean to go in a museum tour? And their kind of schema might be that you know, I’m going to stand around passively. I’m going to listen to information, I’m gonna tune in when I’m interested, you know and not when I’m no longer interested in and that’s kind of their role they see themselves in. And so by using thinking routines, we are upending that role that no longer is it the passive recipient receiving information, no longer is the museum educator, the deliverer of that information. But the role now becomes, you know, a much more active role for the visitor.

So we’re wanting them to really interact with art. We’re wanting them to have a conversation about art. We’re wanting them to explore the artworks that we’re going to kind of look at in that space. And so really moving outside of that role of being the passive listener to the active participant there, and that, that doesn’t necessarily mean that, you know, people will often hear that and, oh, You know, that means I’m not supposed to give any information why I’m not to, to do that.

And that’s not true. There’s certainly a role for information. I think what it means is, and what it often looks like is it just changes where and when that information might come. So rather than thinking that, oh, we walk up to this work of art and immediately start talking and delivering all of the information about this, that that information comes later. And when we’ve engaged people with any piece of content, when they’ve begun to think about it, what we’ve done is, you know, we’ve kind of primed the brain to be more, more plastic there, and the information becomes stickier. And that information now is able to be received in a much more meaningful way.

So that’s another part of that kind of changing role.

Claire Bown: Absolutely. And thinking about guides or educators thinking about the information that they have, the knowledge that they have in their heads, and sometimes this is very extensive, but thinking very selectively and consciously about when and where you might share that information.

And also noticing what effects that might have on the group, whether they’re able to, to use it to further their inquiry or whether it shuts down the discussion. So yeah, I think information plays a very active role as well in this process. I’d love to move on to talking about Your article, which left a big impression on me, Cultivating a Culture of Thinking in the Museum.

It was published in the Journal of Museum Education. Oh, I think 12 years ago. Maybe a bit longer, but it had a big impression on me. You are talking about the idea of translating a culture of thinking into the museum environment. So how might we cultivate this culture of thinking? and how do the eight cultural forces perhaps help us to understand how groups might work in the museum space?

Ron Ritchhart: Yeah. So first of all, what I would say around a culture of thinking is that, we have all been parts of a culture of thinking and I often ask people to think of a time when you were in a group in which you felt like your thinking was valued and that there were efforts made by the group, by the leader to make that thinking more visible, more apparent, to pull that out of you.

And at the same time, your thinking was actually actively promoted. So it was encouraged and you felt like you came out of that with deeper understanding, deeper learning and, and actually some improvement in terms of your skills around thinking. And then think about that, you know, that wasn’t just about you, but it was about the entire group that you were with.

So you felt like, we were a part of this learning and we’ve all been part of that.

So that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about a culture of thinking. You know, they’re places, not necessarily classrooms or schools, but just places in which the groups as well as the individual thinking ,that it’s valued, that it’s visible and it’s actively promoted as part of the regular, really day-to-day experience of all group members. So when we’ve got that kind of understanding, that’s what a culture of thinking is, and you know, that can happen equally well in a museum, as it can in a classroom.

Can happen in any other places. So again, that, that early research I did studying teachers who were very adept at getting students to think, developing their habits of mind, developing their thinking dispositions

That really kind of led me in my analysis of what these teachers did, understanding and identifying these eight kind of cultural forces and, and I use that word forces because just like the force of gravity, you know, we don’t wake up in the morning and decide do I want gravity today or not?
These forces are already there, so that’s the nice thing for leaders anywhere, kind of recognise, ‘oh, this isn’t about, inserting something new. It’s about recognising what is there’. And then the big question is how do I leverage them?

So, for instance, one of those cultural forces is the idea of interactions. Well, there are gonna be interactions in every, you know, setting that we have. And so thinking about, okay, well what kind of interactions do I want? How do I move those interactions in a way they’re going to support learning?

Another one is the physical environment. And so everybody has a physical environment even when we’re online, we have a physical environment. How do we set that up? How do we use the tools of this particular platform versus that platform? You know? We’re on, on Zoom this morning. I like this as a platform. I really don’t like Google meets. There are other, you know, and so you’re making a decision about how does this, you know, platform, what does it facilitate, what does it allow?

And so thinking about the space, thinking about, oh, you know, what is it about this space? How can I kind of leverage this space?

And another cultural force would be language. And so thinking about our use of language, again, everyone uses language. So thinking about what we’re doing, and in that article that you referenced there, I visited several museums and really looked at, how are these eight cultural forces playing out and shaping the culture which is being built.

 And I use that word culture, sometimes it helps people to think about, well, it’s really a micro-culture. And so yes, you may only see kind of that group of people for 60 minutes or 90 minutes, but you’re still creating this little micro-culture. There are all these little dynamics that are being created in that very, very short amount of time with that.

And again, those still get created by those eight cultural forces. So I was, you know, going to museums and seeing the way that the museum educator , the way that they position people in the gallery, the way they have them stand, and strategically, you know, placing here so you can look at this work of art and that work of art at the same time.

Or how are they, you know, seated or standing so that they actually can talk and, and converse with that. So really thinking about kind of those ideas in terms of developing that, that culture of thinking.

Claire Bown: Yeah, and some of the other cultural forces as well.

Thinking about expectations, how you set the expectation for what’s gonna happen within your 90 minutes or 60 minutes or however long you have in that environment and setting it up for participation. So that if you do have some visitors who are expecting a more traditional program, they’ll understand that this is going to be more participative, there’s going to be questions, we’re gonna be discovering together, all those things you might want to set up those expectations as well. So I urge everyone listening to go and read that article. But also you’ve got a new book coming out. I have all of your books. I can’t wait to read your new book.

It’s coming out next month I think?

Ron Ritchhart: It is, yes. Less than a month away. Very exciting. So this new book is called cultures of Thinking In Action and so the impetus for this new book is again, the ideas of culture thinking and working with educators all over the world for a number of years around developing a culture of thinking.

One of the things that I was noticing and being struck more and more by, and being fascinated by is, well, what made these ideas take off in one classroom, in one setting versus another? Trying to understand that kind of hidden ingredient. And the hidden ingredient, not unsurprising, what was not like, oh, this person attended that training versus this training, or they read this book versus that book.

That what it came down to was that where these ideas really took off was that people had certain mindsets. And a mindset is merely kind of a belief about the way things work. So we’re all educators. So we have beliefs about how learning happens. We have beliefs about what it means to you know, visit a museum, what it means to engage people with art, so beliefs about that. That when people had these ten mindsets there, that was really kind of the hidden ingredient that moved things . And I had never hidden these, these weren’t like something that I was never aware of. When I go back you know, to my earlier work, I can see that I’ve written about these, that I’ve mentioned them. I’ve often talked about them in terms messages which we are sending our learners about learning about how things work. And again, the idea of sending messages is really key to the idea of culture there. But I then began to kind of really elaborate these, did uncover a couple of more that I thought were really incredibly important and, and foundational. So what this book really articulates is that having these mindsets is what puts the culture of thinking in action.

It’s what will motivate that . So I’ve looked at the, the research basis for each of these 10 mindsets and then explored how we can collect data, how we can reflect ourselves as educators on these mindsets about what we’re doing. And then finally giving people some actions that they can take again to kind of move forward with that.

Ron Ritchhart: But really kind of beginning with identifying those kind of key mindsets.

Claire Bown: And you talk in the introduction about ,I’ll paraphrase you, but you talk about that true transformation resides not in the what or the how of teaching, but in the why. What are our core beliefs?

What are our values? What is our purpose? And this was fascinating to me. I’ve done a lot of writing about this recently myself, for my book and an article I’m writing, and as part of coach qualification, I took, I think these values, beliefs, and our purpose really shape our practice. So why is it so important for us to work from the inside out?

Ron Ritchhart: We really have kind of a a history in education, particularly in schools, of actually a lot of failed initiatives. And one key reason why they fail is that someone comes up with some great ideas, some practices, and then tries to get people to do them.

And you know, as good as thinking routines are and as useful as they are, we can see the difference between a thinking routine, where someone is going through it just as an activity, just as a perfunctory exercise, just as something because they’ve been told you should do this.

And someone who is doing it because I am, again, really interested in uncovering my learner’s thinking, I’m really interested in engaging them with this piece of content. And those two things look completely different. And the difference there is, you know, that person that’s using the powerful way tends to believe some mindsets. one of the mindsets is that learning is a consequence of thinking.

So if you believe that learning is a consequence of thinking, then you want to get people to think. You don’t see it as, ‘oh, this is an extra, this is something I’ll do if I have time‘. You see it as like, ‘no, this is really kind of core‘ when you kind of recognise that you’re trying to rewrite the story of learning in your setting.

Then you recognise I’ve gotta kind of change the role. I’ve gotta change the role of myself as the educator. I’ve gotta change the role of the learners there. And so you begin to look at, okay, how do I kind of change those roles? How do I move outside of the tradition? That becomes your motivator. That becomes your impetus.

Alan Schoenfeld at the university of California and Berkeley, and was also the head of the American Educational Research Association, spent several years trying to kind of understand teacher decision making in the classroom. And he said, basically, teacher plans, whether they’re self-made plans or whether they’re plans which are written for them, only go so far.

The plans only work as long as everything goes is expected. And as soon as anything unexpected happens, teachers have to make decisions. And an unexpected thing can just be a question that you hadn’t expected. It can be a misconception you weren’t anticipating. And when you get into that realm, then you have to make decisions.

And he said that’s when teachers fall back on their beliefs. It’s when they fall back on their values about what they’re really thinking. Education is what’s important, how does learning happen? And he said, if to understand teacher decision making, and there’s a lot of teacher decision making, you have to understand their beliefs and their values and their mindsets for that. So that’s why it’s so incredibly important. That’s what’s actually going to create change. That’s what’s actually going to kind of motivate our actions. And that’s what’s also going to elevate our use of the various tools. The tools still have a place, but we want to make sure that they’re elevated, that they’re used in a way that is most powerful for that.

So leaning into those minds, that’s incredibly important.

Claire Bown: Yeah, definitely find your why and, really investigate your values, and your purpose. I’m really looking forward to reading the book when it comes out shortly. I recommend listeners read all of your books from Intellectual Character to Making Thinking Visible, The Power of Making Thinking Visible, and Cultures of Thinking.

Got them all. Perhaps you could just tell listeners where they can find out more about you or where they can follow you on social media.

Ron Ritchhart: So on social media, on Twitter, it’s @ronritchhart. You do have to spell my name correctly, which is a little bit tricky. And we do have a Making Thinking Visible Facebook page which generally is just people kind of communicating and sharing there. And then I do have a website, which again is just my name. So, in which I post a lot of of resources got a blog on there, some articles I write.

There. So lots of kind of resources and information there. And then we also do have a culturesofthinking. org website. And that’s very much related to the new book and the mindsets, and that was the forerunner for writing the book.

 So if people are interested in finding out more about those mindsets as a precursor to, to reading the book, which is a much expanded version of that, that’s on that website, cultures of

Claire Bown: Brilliant. Thank you for sharing those. I’ll put links to everything in the show notes, but just time for me to say thank you, Ron. I really appreciate your time today. Thanks for joining me on the podcast.

Ron Ritchhart: My pleasure, Claire.

 So a huge thank you to Ron for taking the time to speak to me today for the 100th episode. I hope you enjoyed our chat. Go to the show notes to find out more about Ron’s work and all of his best selling books, academic papers, articles and resources.

And you’ll find links in the show notes to my resources, including my free Slow Art Guide, How to Look at Art Slowly, and the Ultimate Thinking Routine List. If you are interested in finding out how you can use thinking routines in your work, you might be interested in my book, which is out in September.

Slow Looking at Art: The Visible Thinking in the Museum Approach shares the framework that I’ve developed over the past 12 years to help museum educators confidently lead engaging discussions around art and objects in their museums. I’ll put a link in the show notes. Thank you for joining me today for this special anniversary episode.

I still can’t believe we got to 100 episodes of this podcast. I’ll see you next time. Bye.

Thank you for listening to The Art Engager podcast with me, Claire Bown. You can find more art engagement resources by visiting my website, thinking, and you can also find me on Instagram at Thinking Museum, where I regularly share tips and tools on how to bring art to life and engage your audience.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please share with others and subscribe to the show on your podcast player of choice. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you next time.