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Habit of Mind 8 (HoM)

December 17th, 2019 · No Comments


Habit of Mind 8: Apply Past Knowledge to New Situations


“I’ve never made a mistake. I’ve only learned from experience.”

 Thomas A. Edison 


All humans learn from experience, intelligent ones take advantage of that and maximize it. Our past often guides us to navigate new experiences. We often say, “This reminds me of….” or “This is just like the time when I…” We explain what we are doing now in terms of analogies with or references to previous experiences from our past. We use our store of knowledge and experience as sources of data to support, theories to explain, or processes to solve each new challenge. It like our toolbox, everything we learn and experience becomes a tool in our box for the future of problems we may face. The more responsible risks we take the more tools we gather for our toolbox, which in turn leads to using our past experiences to solve existing problems we currently face. Furthermore, we can get meaning from one experience, carry it forth, and apply it in a new situation. Often times we face each problem like it is our first and only time facing it. Challenge yourself to recall how you have solved similar problems previously. Remember, not every experience is encapsulated and has no relationship to what has come before or what comes afterward. When you treat it as such, it is what psychologists refer to as an “episodic grasp of reality” (Feuerstein 1980). That is, each event in life is a separate and discrete event with no connections to what may have come before or with no relation to what follows.


As we move into different relationships, jobs and ages – this habit becomes a normality.

Like they say – the older you become the wiser you are – well this is only true if you apply past knowledge to every new situation!



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