Being childwise, cultivating habits of the heart

As a regular commenter on my blog Rosie has contributed additional value and insight, demonstrating her unlimited passion for the education of young learners as well as those who engage with them in a professional capacity.  A recurring topic in her comments is the importance of self-actualisation.

I feel that Rosie’s message is important to share and, in response to my invitation, she has contributed a post, not just a comment, in order to more fully explain her views.

Please enjoy Rosie’s contribution and feel welcome to add your own insights and comments in response.

Growth toward self-actualisation (Maslow) requires integration of habits of heart and habits of mind.

tomas_arad_heart             ryanlerch_thinkingboy_outline

The development of these habits is essential to the balanced self. Schools have long attended to the habits of mind providing for a range of capabilities from the academic to the intellectual to the cognitive. The habits of the heart have received far less attention. Critically, however, attention to the first, habits of the mind, does little if it is not complemented by attention to habits of the heart.

school cropped

Curriculum frameworks have varied in the last forty years to the amount of attention focussed on habits of the heart. The trend to teach only that which is assessable and hence, that which can be measured, has resulted in many habits of the heart being neglected. To some teachers, habits of the heart, known also as the affective domain, are not within their role statement.


Early years teachers have long recognised the importance of scaffolding the development of all aspects of the child. The belief that teaching the whole child has as its focus, the integration of emotional, social, physical, and cognitive. All interact as conditions for learning. When one area of development is not receiving attention, growth of the other areas may be restricted as well.


From this perspective, words such as motivation, attitude, well-being, responsibility, independence, self-control, self-concept and identity become the “bread and butter” of a teacher’s daily activity. When learning is not occurring, the answer is not another worksheet or more of the same. These other conditions that form the habits of the heart are examined to formulate the next step to ensure growth.

image courtesy of

Views toward conditions for learning are slowly changing. For example, the Australian curriculum has at its focus, General capabilities embedded across all Learning areas. One of these capabilities refers to personal and social capability, bringing the affective domain into the realm of respectability as a teaching focus, at last. Despite this, the term ‘behaviour management’ continues to attract funding in some education systems.

A proposal is to redirect attention away from behaviour management and engage with the direction of the Australian Curriculum. To do this, there is a need to view what needs to be taught and how to teach it if the habits of the heart are to develop.

image courtesy of

In looking at how to work with habits of the heart, some preservice teachers (now teachers), lecturers and a psychologist adapted “On becoming childwise” (Ezzo & Ezzo) to the needs of teachers and the classroom context. Documentation related to this program is available at Videos are also available.


All images, except Childwise, courtesy of

2 thoughts on “Being childwise, cultivating habits of the heart

  1. Bec

    Thank you Rosie for this very insightful post, I hadn’t heard of the ‘Childwise’ concept before but it makes much intuitive sense. I often think about Maslow’s hierarchy in different aspects of life, and it would be great to see these concepts integrated into ‘child development’ – after all we are all people, not just users of calculators and dictionaries. A quote shared by one of the lecturers this week at UQ seems befitting:

    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

    Surely to encourage the intuitive mind, we have to scaffold all areas of growth for children as you say – the emotional, social, physical, and cognitive.


    1. nco04662 Post author

      Thank you, Bec for your insightful response. I love the quote from the UQ lecturer – so true; and I certainly agree with your final recommendation.

      Have a nice day! 😊🌏




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