Event Details

To develop engaged and empowered learners, we need to change not only the curriculum and our instruction, but also the culture of our schools. In this course, learn about why classroom culture matters deeply to what and how students learn, and analyze the culture of your own classroom, school, or learning context. Explore the cultural force of “language” and its power to shape students’ learning and thinking.

The constantly changing world in which we live requires us to rethink what a quality education means. It is no longer enough to develop compliant (and too often complacent) learners merely making their way through school. Today we seek to develop engaged and empowered learners ready to act thoughtfully and effectively in the world. To accomplish this, we need to change more than the curriculum and our instruction–we need to change the culture of our schools. But why does classroom culture matter so much to our students' learning? And how can we begin to change the culture of our classrooms and schools to more effectively support student learning and thinking? This course demystifies the creation of classroom and school culture through an examination of the process of enculturation. We do this by looking carefully at the various “stories of learning” that schools perpetuate. We then look at the “new story of learning” we want to make for our students and consider how the eight cultural forces can help us to enact that story. We conclude the course by examining one of those eight cultural forces - “language” - and how our use of language shapes in deep and subtle ways the culture of the learning environment that surrounds our learners.

Course Designer & Instructors

Designer & Co-Instructor: Ron Ritchhart has been a researcher at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1994 to 2021. His research focuses on understanding how to develop, nurture, and sustain thoughtful learning environments for both students and teachers. Ron’s interest in “cultures of thinking” has led him to conduct research in areas such as intellectual character, mindfulness, thinking dispositions, teaching for understanding, creativity in teaching, and the development of communities of practice. Prior to joining the Project Zero research group, Ron taught for fourteen years in elementary and middle schools. In 1993 he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Secondary Mathematics Teaching. Ron earned his Ed.D. in human development and psychology from Harvard University. He is the author of a number of books and articles, including The Power of Making Thinking Visible (co-authored with Mark Church, 2020); Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools (2015); Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners (co-authored with Mark Church and Karin Morrison, 2011); and Intellectual Character: What It Is, Why It Matters, How to Get It (2004).

Co-Instructor: Mark Church works throughout the world with schools that wish to create cultures of thinking in their classrooms. He believes in the difference teachers can make for students when they strive to make thinking visible, valued, and actively promoted as part of the day-to-day experience of their learners. Mark encourages teachers to become students of their students, and more broadly, students of themselves and the choices they make to leverage the power of making thinking visible. Mark is currently a consultant with Harvard Project Zero's Making Thinking Visible and Cultures of Thinking initiatives, drawing upon his own classroom teaching experience and the perspectives he has gained working with educators across grade levels and content areas. Together with Ron Ritchhart, Mark is co-author of the book Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners (co-authored with Ron Ritchhart and Karin Morrison, 2011) and The Power of Making Thinking Visible: Practices to Engage and Empower All Learners (co-authored with Ron Ritchhart, 2020).

Online Course Schedule

Orientation and course site introduction for the mini courses is available no later than two days prior to the course launch.

  • All participants will receive email invitations to the course site three days prior to the course start. The required review of the course policies assignment is available during the “Getting Ready” self-guided orientation to the site.
  • Remember, if you joined the course as an individual and not as a member of an already formed team, you will be placed on a virtual team and will be sent an email introducing you to your virtual team members no later than 4 days prior to the course launch.
  • We strongly recommend all teams schedule their weekly, required 60- 90 minute team meetings prior to the start of the course. Usually scheduling team meetings toward the end of each week is most helpful so all members have time to complete assignments in advance of the meeting.

Creating Cultures of Thinking: Exploring the Purpose and Promise of Schools

Sessions open on Mondays and close on Sundays, but you do not have to work on Mondays; within each session, you work on your own time.
  • Week 1: Opens Monday, March 10
  • Week 2: Opens Monday, March 17
  • Week 3: Opens Monday, March 24
  • Week 4: Opens Monday, March 31
  • Course Closes: Sunday, April 6

Who Should Participate

  • Teachers, Teacher Leaders, and School Administrators and Leaders
  • Museum Educators and educators working in informal learning environments
  • Facilitators of Pre-K to Adult Learning

Required Course Textbook

The following textbook is required for participants in this course, and is not included in the course tuition. The textbook is available for purchase on Amazon or through the publisher Jossey-Bass — in both paper and digital format.

  • Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Ron Ritchhart. (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2015)

Tuition, Discounts, and Scholarships


  • For In-Depth Courses (6 sessions, 13 weeks), tuition is $615 per person registering as a member of a team, and $695 per person registering as an individual who will be placed (by Project Zero) on a virtual team.
  • For Mini Courses (4 sessions, 4 weeks), tuition is $295 per person registering as a member of a team, and $375 per person registering as an individual who will be placed (by Project Zero) on a virtual team.


Scholarships are available for educators from qualifying organizations. For online courses (in-depth and mini courses) scholarships will cover approximately 70% of the tuition. Eligibility guidelines and the application link are below. Scholarship applications must be submitted and accepted prior to registration for the course. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please do NOT register for the online course until you have completed the scholarship application and have been approved for scholarship. Those who register for the online course prior to applying for a scholarship will become ineligible for the scholarship. Please note: scholarships are limited and are assessed and awarded on a first come, first serve basis.

Eligibility guidelines: With generous support from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation and many individual donations honoring Project Zero’s 50th anniversary in 2017, Project Zero is able to offer a limited number of professional learning scholarships to support a range of schools, districts, and organizations as well as a diverse group of educators. These scholarships aim to support teams of educators and individual educators working in under-resourced contexts and/or with historically marginalized students.

  • In the United States, public school educators working in schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 25% or more OR educators working primarily with students who attend these schools.
  • Outside of the United States, educators whose schools or organizations serve 25% or more students whose families meet the country-defined standard for low-income.

To apply for a scholarship use the Scholarship Application link at the top of this page.


Confirmation and Payment

Registration confirmations are sent automatically from the registration software. Please keep these emails as they include your receipt of payment for documentation as well as your confirmation number should you need to access your registration in the future.

Payments are accepted via credit card or invoice for payment by check or wire transfer. Confirmation of registration does not confirm full payment if participants selected to pay other than by a credit card. All required paperwork and payments must be completed (or evidence provided of payments in process) by the registration deadline. For participants whose required paperwork and/or payments are not finalized at the registration deadline, they will be removed from the course roster and placed on a wait list.

Deadline for Registration

For Creating Cultures of Thinking: Exploring the Purpose and Promise of Schools starting March 2025, the deadline for registration is March 1, 2025 at 11:59 pm Boston time.

Please note: Space is limited. The courses may fill prior to the registration deadline.

Refund Request and Participant Substitution Deadlines

Requests for refunds and participant substitutions for the Creating Cultures of Thinking: Exploring the Purpose and Promise of Schools course starting March 2025 must be submitted by March 1, 2025 at 11:59 pm Boston time.

To request a refund, submit a participant substitution, or to ask questions, please email pzlearn@gse.harvard.edu.