Under the direction of Dr Ron Ritchhart, a Principal Investigator and Senior Research Associate for Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education, staff worked together to refine our learning culture and practice as one that considers education to be a social and cultural endeavor whose goal is the development of both the individual and the group as effective learners and thinkers able to engage with and adapt to a changing world. Within this context the most important assessment questions we can ask ourselves as educators is: who are our students becoming as thinkers and learners as a result of their time with us?
Since 2000, the Cultures of Thinking project has worked with hundreds of public, independent, and international schools and museums across North America, Australia, and Europe to help transform schools, classrooms, and museums into places where thinking is valued, visible and actively promoted as part of the regular day-to-day experience of all group members.
Our thinking and learning initiative will work to achieve its goals by working systemically in our classrooms. This includes the formation of ongoing professional learning communities whose attention is focused in exploring and understanding group culture and how it is shaped by the 'Eight Cultural Forces': modeling, opportunities, routines, expectations, language, interactions, time, and environment. By paying attention to how these eight forces send messages about what learning is, what kind of thinking is valued, and what it means to be smart; educators can reshape schools and classrooms into powerful learning environments in which students can achieve at the highest levels. The documentation of learning and the integration of thinking routines - simple structures to scaffold, support, and direct students' thinking - are also core practices.