I am very grateful to have spent this past weekend at a memorial rodeo in the foothills of the Sierras. The peace of the place and compassion of the people could only encourage personal reflection and meaningful contemplation. I was constantly thinking about what I was thinking about. The sound of the river drowned out the noise of my busy life and forced me to wonder about my many blessings and purpose in life. Metacognition may be a big brain-babble word, but it sure is nice to stop and think about what we think about. All too often our thoughts are driven by the noise of the day and not so much by the passion or purpose of life.
Metacognition is the core of all the habits we teach each week. One of my favorite sayings is, “Learning is something we do, it is not something that happens to us.” This is what metacognition is all about. Recognizing what we are thinking, saying, and doing is the first step to controlling and telling our brains what to think, say, and do. In her book, Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf explains how we have complete control of what our brain thinks and therefore, what we choose to do. When you are cognizant about what you are thinking, saying, and doing, you are driving your brain. You do learning! This is the power of proactive and positive living. Being in the driver seat requires clear direction and assertive behavior. Thinking about thinking is precisely that. Too often the circumstances in life drive our actions, and we become slaves instead of masters of circumstance. Let’s help our children to think about their thinking this week. One powerful way to teach this to kids is to model it. Talk about what you think about. Show your children how to think about thinking by saying it out loud. Here are a few other ways to support this habit:
- Heart – role play a challenging situation.
- Mind – talk through a math problem before writing it out.
- Body – practice the steps to a sport skill verbally, then do it physically.
- Soul – talk about how a piece of music makes you feel and think.
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” – Socrates
“When the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself.” – Plato
“So few people are really aware of their thoughts. Their minds run all over the place without their permission, and they go along for the ride unknowingly and without making a choice.” ― Thomas M. Sterner, The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life
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