Title

Theorizing Habits of Mind: Thought as a component of occupation

Location

Room B

Start Time

19-10-2013 10:00 AM

End Time

19-10-2013 10:40 AM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Background:

The study of human occupation as a primary focus of occupational science burdens the occupational scientist with a grand responsibility. In order to explore the nature of the very thing that the discipline is named after, i.e. “occupation”, one must effectively use the term and provide a comprehensive description of the construct being studied. The position taken by scholars on the issue of defining occupation effectively not only influences the current interpretation of human experience, but also shapes the theoretical basis for those interpretations. Further, the theoretical descriptions proposed in the field of occupational science influence the teaching as well as practice of occupational therapy.

Rationale and Argument:

While there seems to be little consensus about a widely agreed-upon definition for the term occupation, it is evident that the most popular definitions of the term are situated in activity or doing or self-action. It is further evident that the OS construct of habits reveals much the same result with respect to having a focus on self-action with little focus on the thoughtful component of habits. Where included, the cognitive aspect within habits is regarded as separate from the active aspect and described as following a hierarchical arrangement of subsystems.

However, the socially embodied experience of an individual cannot be broken down into its parts, which are thought to follow some hierarchical or temporal order. An experience is a whole; a whole that includes social, cultural, physical, biological, cognitive, and reflective components. In other words, reflective and active pursuits are equally important components of occupation and one cannot be overlooked in order to study the other. The interconnectedness of thought and action is an essential prerequisite to study occupations and their implications on individuals and society. Further, to study occupations in their entirety, the active elements of occupation cannot be separated from the thoughtful ones. This paper argues that action, though a necessary part of the study of occupation is not entirely sufficient for the comprehensive explanation of occupation. It is believed that thinking or thought are important elements of the occupational construct, which are understudied and under-theorized by occupational scientists and therapists. Thought is mistakenly conceptualized as an entity separate from action, and actions remain the primary focus of the study of occupations.

Statement of Intent and Implications for Occupational Science:

The argument presented here attempts to theorize thought as a component of occupation, and offers an expanded understanding of existing concepts of habit theory within occupational science by employing John Dewey’s conceptualization of habits of the mind. This expanded understanding builds upon already well-developed themes regarding habits in OS and proposes a wider understanding of occupations than is currently in existence. This can be done by encouraging a more deliberate inclusion of thought and habits of mind in the occupational science discourse. Finally, implications for the study of occupation, and educating occupational scientists and therapists are discussed in light of this extended knowledge.

Key words: Habits of mind; thought; occupational science

References

Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think. Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath.

Dickie, V., Cutchin, M. P., & Humphry, R. (2006). Occupation as transactional experience: A critique of individualism in occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 13, 83-93.

Hocking, C. (2009). The challenge of occupation: Describing the things people do. Journal of Occupational Science, 16:3, 140-150.

Kielhofner, G. & Burke, J.P. (1980). A model of human occupation, part 1. Conceptual framework and content. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 34(9), 572-581.

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Oct 19th, 10:00 AM Oct 19th, 10:40 AM

Theorizing Habits of Mind: Thought as a component of occupation

Room B

Background:

The study of human occupation as a primary focus of occupational science burdens the occupational scientist with a grand responsibility. In order to explore the nature of the very thing that the discipline is named after, i.e. “occupation”, one must effectively use the term and provide a comprehensive description of the construct being studied. The position taken by scholars on the issue of defining occupation effectively not only influences the current interpretation of human experience, but also shapes the theoretical basis for those interpretations. Further, the theoretical descriptions proposed in the field of occupational science influence the teaching as well as practice of occupational therapy.

Rationale and Argument:

While there seems to be little consensus about a widely agreed-upon definition for the term occupation, it is evident that the most popular definitions of the term are situated in activity or doing or self-action. It is further evident that the OS construct of habits reveals much the same result with respect to having a focus on self-action with little focus on the thoughtful component of habits. Where included, the cognitive aspect within habits is regarded as separate from the active aspect and described as following a hierarchical arrangement of subsystems.

However, the socially embodied experience of an individual cannot be broken down into its parts, which are thought to follow some hierarchical or temporal order. An experience is a whole; a whole that includes social, cultural, physical, biological, cognitive, and reflective components. In other words, reflective and active pursuits are equally important components of occupation and one cannot be overlooked in order to study the other. The interconnectedness of thought and action is an essential prerequisite to study occupations and their implications on individuals and society. Further, to study occupations in their entirety, the active elements of occupation cannot be separated from the thoughtful ones. This paper argues that action, though a necessary part of the study of occupation is not entirely sufficient for the comprehensive explanation of occupation. It is believed that thinking or thought are important elements of the occupational construct, which are understudied and under-theorized by occupational scientists and therapists. Thought is mistakenly conceptualized as an entity separate from action, and actions remain the primary focus of the study of occupations.

Statement of Intent and Implications for Occupational Science:

The argument presented here attempts to theorize thought as a component of occupation, and offers an expanded understanding of existing concepts of habit theory within occupational science by employing John Dewey’s conceptualization of habits of the mind. This expanded understanding builds upon already well-developed themes regarding habits in OS and proposes a wider understanding of occupations than is currently in existence. This can be done by encouraging a more deliberate inclusion of thought and habits of mind in the occupational science discourse. Finally, implications for the study of occupation, and educating occupational scientists and therapists are discussed in light of this extended knowledge.

Key words: Habits of mind; thought; occupational science