Cultures of Thinking Explorations in DC

By: Jim Reese

Cultures of thinking “are places in which the group’s collective as well as the individual’s thinking is valued, visible, and actively promoted as part of the regular, day-to-day experience of all group members.” – Ron Ritchhart (Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Schools, p. 31, 2015)

Inspired by the work of Ron Ritchhart, a researcher at Project Zero and a frequent visitor to DC, the Professional Development Collaborative invests heavily in assisting teachers to transform classrooms and schools into cultures of thinking. Ritchhart has been a keynote speaker at WISSIT, our annual summer institute, since its inception in 2014 and for many years he has worked closely with teachers at Washington International School and with the education staff at the National Gallery of Art.

As a result of this exposure to the Cultures of Thinking ideas, one can find teachers engaged in thoughtful conversation with their peers about student thinking, or see young people regularly using Thinking Routines to wrestle with complex topics, or hear the language of thinking being modeled in various educational settings.

Our DC-Project Zero (DCPZ) network often holds events built around the Cultures of Thinking research. WISSIT has as one of its key themes Building a Culture of Thinking, with the following guiding questions: How do we help learners develop dispositions that support thoughtful learning across school subjects? How do we effectively create a culture of thinking, in classrooms and across a school?

Ritchhart’s research has provided educators with a comprehensive way to investigate the forces that shape culture in a classroom, as well as examples from all types of classrooms around the world.