MODULE 5: OPEN-MINDEDNESS & CREATIVE THINKING
This module focuses on two aspects very closely related: open-mindedness and creative thinking. It is divided into two parts. The first part provides general information, benefits, skills, competences and learning objectives of the module. The second part analyses different approaches, methods and strategies, giving resources that can be useful to help teachers to organize, plan and build a creative and open-minded environment.
Benefits of the module
This module intends to support teachers in the following activities
- Fostering freedom of speech through student’s participation while ensuring a safe environment for vulnerable students
- Developing personal students’ capabilities
- Increasing students’ interest in subject thanks to new teaching perspectives
- Creating an open-mindedness and creative climate in the classroom
- Increasing curiosity to new ideas, approaches, points of view, cultures
- Creating cooperative working environment
- Increasing of self-esteem and problem-solving capabilities
- Enhancing positive problem solving in order to develop life’s abilities
- Nuancing polarisations in classrooms
This module intends to support teachers in the following activities
- Building positive, non-judgemental relationships with students
- Demonstrating open-mindedness in discussing sensitive issues
- Creating safe, motivating and inclusive learning environments in classrooms
Skills of the module
- Democratic leadership, active listening
- Management of one’s own emotions
- Mediation and conflict transformation
At the end of this module, you’ll be able to:
Understand the value of creative thinking and open-mindedness in education.
Understand the role of creative thinking and open-mindedness to prevent radicalisation.
Learn challenges and tips to implement creative thinking in classrooms.
We are all born with a creative instinct and all people have creative potential. Young children naturally engage in play – a state when the imagination is used to ‘try out’ situations and possibilities. As young the use of imagination and creativity is naturally engaged to ‘try out’ situations. During the scholar epoch children mature and stifle their creativity like consequence of other pressures. Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor on education is a promoter of creativity in the school. He argues that in school the students are educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. This happens because the educational system is very old and based on ‘700 century ideas. In a context, where students are fearful of making mistakes in front of teachers because they are educated in a restricted idea of “only one right answer” rather than valid original thinking and ideas (Ken Robinson, TED talk, How schools kill creativity).
To go beyond this restricted view, the role of the teachers is to encourage and disseminate creativity and open-mindedness thinking. These two concepts are invaluable skills for college students, to help them to look at problems and situations from a fresh perspective and to be receptive to and appreciate, the diversity of human experience, knowledge and belief systems. The following paragraphs will be providing a framework about the two main concepts that are explored in this module: Creative thinking and open-mindedness.
A clear definition of what is creative thinking is suggested from Kampylis and Berki (2014):
‘Creative thinking is defined as the thinking that enables students to apply their imagination to generating ideas, questions and hypotheses, experimenting with alternatives and to evaluating their own and their peers’ ideas, final products and processes.’
Therefore, to be a creative thinker means to look at something in a new approach, the actual definition of “thinking outside the box”. This skill involves thinking of things no one else has considered before.
One concept related to creativity is divergent thinking. This term was introduced for Joy Paul Guilford (1950), in an article, Creativity published in American Psychologist.
Figure SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1. Developing the Cambridge Learner Attributes guide,Cambridge Assessment International Education. 53-74
This concept is associated with creativity and it means the process or method used to generate creative ideas exploring many possible solutions. The process related to creativity was explained later by Edward de Bono, who invented the term “lateral thinking” which is a completely synonymous of “creative thinking”. Lateral thinking is the mental process of generating various ideas to solve problems,, not in a step-by-step approach but using an indirect and creative approach via reasoning, that is not immediately obvious (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019).
Open-mindedness is defined as “the quality of being willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to your own” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2019).
It is close related to creative thinking and that allows students to explore moving beyond barriers.
Education through open-mindedness is a skill for students to rethink assumptions, identify misinformation and consider alternative ways to make decisions. Open-mindedness also gives the opportunity to explore how diverse people across the world think and act, considering experiences, beliefs, values and perspectives, etc. that differ from one’s own. It could be representing an antidote to a potential narrowness of view, that could result from a person only pursuing what interests them and it is a way to solve a problem that is personally and socially relevant, by considering diverse ways of thinking about an issue.
The teacher thrives to create an open-mindedness and creative climate. For that reason, teachers should be looking for creative, imaginative and stimulating possibilities in planning and the structuring of learning. First, it is important to clarify that a creative pedagogy involves an interplay between creative teaching and creative learning so in order to develop creativity in the classroom the teacher should be more creative (Lin Y, 2019).
Creativity and open-mindedness require a safe environment in which to play, exercise autonomy, and take risks. In the promotion of a creative and open-minded climate, teachers are facilitators, responsible for leading learners to develop more creative responses to problems and to establish this kind of enquiring classroom. For that reason, the first way is to incorporate creativity as part of learning, shaping classrooms that enhance and encourage creativity. In a creative approach, teachers should focus on the range of answers, rather than whether they are ‘correct’,, at least until the learners have become comfortable in challenging and answering questions/suggestions. This creates a compassionate and accepting environment. Students need to trust that they can make a mistake (Lin Y, 2019).
The methods and strategies that can be adopted are different. The following paragraph will describe suggestions and examples about didactic methods and creative approaches which expand the horizons of students.
Six Thinking Hats method
Six Thinking Hats method, is a technique developed by Edward De Bono. This parallel thinking technique, i.e. looking at something from different angles. This technique provides a structure for students to explore six distinct angles of a complex matter. The group exercise can easily be adapted to various disciplines. This method aims to generate a creative atmosphere, improve communication skills, training students to use a clearer way of thinking giving hints to allow an easy switch in the modes of thinking. The methodology is based on six diverse hats representing a different way of thinking. It is essential that everyone uses the same hat at the same time. This is because the method is not about personal preferences for a style of thinking. The method is designed to encourage parallel thinking, where all participants explore the situation together, rather than take sides in an argument. The six hats represent the following positions:
© By Edward De Bono, all rights reserved
Neutral and objective
Powerful and essential hat as it helps ensure we minimise mistakes. It can be overused.
Focuses on feeling and emotions
Focuses on values of benefits in positive, optimistic way
Focuses on creativity: possibilities, alternatives, solutions, new ideas
Focuses on processes control, timing, action plans
This technique can be used in both groups and with individuals and it facilitates the transition between different ways to think and to approach a theme. In addition to this, it promotes a rational evaluation of ideas and fosters the constructiveness of comments. When applied in a group, Six Thinking Hats helps to avoid conflicts and inspires everyone to think about a specific topic from a distinct perspective.
The following case study is part of Chapter 4 of Developing the Cambridge Learner attributes, Cambridge Assessment International Education.
This case study shows that the “learnerspaces” can be helpful to develop creative thinking in the students to express themselves in their creativity.
“St. Andrew’s Scots School, Buenos Aires, Argentina – The Learnerspace: a new pedagogy by design”
Makerspaces have become ubiquitous in schools all over the world to encourage students to apply creativity and critical thinking through design. A similar approach to learning, transforming a traditional environment into a Learnerspace can also be a great catalyst for moving pedagogy towards a learner-centred model.
Of all the many spaces in school, the school library lends itself to becoming an emblem for a new learning paradigm. In that context, we set out to embody the principles of 21st century learning through a transformation that was as profound as it was bold, and that went far beyond architectural modifications.
The first dimension of change entailed making true on the principle that learning is continuous, and transcends the physical and chronological boundaries of the classroom. By de-centralising books from the library and sending them out to school corridors and departments, we sent out the message that learning is not restricted in space and time. By allowing students to freely check out books without restrictions or controls, throughout the school, we explicitly stated that learning is a transcendent value that knows no limits or constraints.
In moving from a library to Learnerspace, the most important element of change was making sure that the redesign of the space was conducive to joyful learning. Three distinct spaces were created: a large, flexible workspace with furniture that could be rearranged freely to suit multiple configurations; a cave-like, forest-themed silent room; and a collaborative room with two projectors and floor-to-ceiling walls that students can write on. All throughout the Learnerspace, blackened walls invited students to express themselves using chalk.
Student reactions surpassed our best expectations. From being a space that students mostly used to seek refuge from cold weather, the library almost immediately became the centre of gravity of the school. Students naturally tended to occupy and make spaces come alive in ways that were hitherto unforeseen.
Teachers started delivering their lessons at the Learnerspace, often sharing space with colleagues, and increasingly applying differentiation of teaching to the needs of individual learners.
And then the true joy of the learning process gradually emerged. Midday philosophy talks, quiz show-type contests, educational board games, and even a chessboard with a clock for blitz games also became manifestations that learning could be an enjoyable process.
The Learnerspace embodies most of the desired learner attributes: students discuss their learning and naturally engage in metacognitive reflections, propitiated by the collaborative environment and the literal writing on the walls; they become less teacher dependent; exercise their creativity by expressing themselves actively within the space; work on the development of creative projects; take possession of the space in meetings related to their leadership roles; and create new extracurricular projects.
Many of the community forums and discussions also take place in the agora-like open space, with an openness that inspires the discussions and projects that emerge from such gatherings. The importance of the physical learning environment is often underestimated in how it can truly foster a new learning modality consistent with the modern information-rich world. Sometimes schools are daunted by the magnitude of the change required, but our Learnerspace has joyfully demonstrated that a few changes in the layout can have a substantial and inspiring effect.
The video selected in this module can be helpful for teachers to develop creative and open- mindedness in their classroom.
Creative thinking – how to get out of the box and generate ideas: Giovanni Corazza at TEDxRoma
Duration: 13.38 min
Are You Open Minded? Three Ways to Break Thinking Patterns | Paul Sloane | TEDx University of Brighton
Duration: 15.26 min
An Article about creativity and innovation for teachers that contains different videos inside.
- iEARN: is an Online school linkages platform to share good practices, resources, learning projects between teachers and share strategies to help them develop creative thinking. The 150 projects in iEARN, designed and facilitated by teachers and students to fit their curriculum and classroom needs and schedules. To join, participants select an online project and look at how they can integrate it into their classroom. With the project selected teachers and students enter online forum spaces to meet one another and get involved in ongoing projects with classrooms around the world who are working on the same project”. https://iearn.org/about
- In order to develop creative thinking, brainstorming sessions and workshops are very useful to stimulate a collective creative atmosphere both between teachers and in the classrooms. Realtime Board is an interesting free tool useful to work collectively online. It is an online whiteboard space utilizing virtual post-it notes, images, etc. Popplet is another interesting tool which allows you to visually record your ideas, inspirations and thoughts, as well as upload text, videos, images and draw on your canvas.
- Many online tools facilitate brainstorming helping to reach creative thinking. Mind Mapping software is very useful to think collectively and create emulation. Free and open sources software such as Xmind, FreePlane or FreeMind can help in this task.
- Open mindedness approach for teachers, MacMillan Education developed combination of digital and print material with resources for teachers and students learners. The course’s communicative and inductive approach with life skills at its core gives students the skills they need to succeed in the real world, and the wealth of support and practice online saves teachers valuable time. Some free sample units of Open Mind are available online and provide interesting activities according to different levels and with different support (book, audio, etc).
CHALLENGES AND TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTATION IN DIFFERENT CLASSROOMS CONTEXTS
Creative thinking and open-mindedness are two approaches that move beyond barriers and stereotypes, working in different contexts. Both approaches are helpful to avoid polarization, one of the radicalization issues. Also, these methods support students in different aspects of their current and future life, not only in the classroom, helping to ignore stereotypes and to develop active citizenship capable of using these processes in all contexts of life.
In summary, the following tips can be helpful for the teachers to educate their students in an open-minded climate and by the use of creative thinking.
- Educate students to analyse different perspectives with an open-minded and respectful view. This is important in training their thinking to be creative.
- Educate students to be able to identify misinformation and stereotypes to avoid radicalization and to create future active citizens.
- To be a creative thinker and open-minded it is important to not allow overgeneralization about different cultures, religions, countries and populations but to be open to know, meet and understand their culture and their point of view.
Teach to be open-minded and stimulate their thinking providing learning experiences to connect students with people of other countries (for example iERN) or organize meetings to give students the opportunity to interact directly with people from other cultures or those wirh differing with point of views.
TIPS FOR APPLYING THE METHODS TO DIFFERENT SUBJECTS
The creative process is fundamental to student learning, nurturing creativity is also an aspect of good teaching in all subjects. As Ken Robinson states “you can be creative in anything – in math, science, engineering, philosophy – as much as you can in music or in painting or in dance.” Open-mindedness and creative teaching can be incorporated in every subject.
A good tip for all subjects, is the use of “Socratic questioning”. This method is a trigger for creative thinking. A good question, from the teacher or student, has the power to make students think more widely and is a natural part of the ongoing feedback loop in classrooms, between students and teachers, helping to guide the instructional process. In order to improve the quality of learners’ thinking and responses, research shows that the teachers should carefully plan the type of wording and delivery of questions that they are going to ask during the lessons (Budd Rowe M, 1986). Questions that stimulate responses that require complex mental processing can encourage creativity. What if…? and Why…? questions tend to stimulate creative and critical thinking, especially if followed by more probing questions which encourage the learner to go further. However, it is also essential to encourage learners to think of their own questions. A learner formulating a question can illuminate their current thinking, helping to guide instruction, as well as being a creative activity.
Encouraging learners to ask questions can:
- develop their curiosity about the subject, helping with engagement
- stimulate learners to ‘think hard’ about a topic
- consolidate a learner’s understanding of the material
- enable learners to look at a topic from different perspectives
- clarify a goal or plan for their own investigations
- inspire them to want to find out the answer
How to develop creativity in Mathematics?
Finding multiple ways of solving a problem.
To support students in being creative, teachers offer tasks and activities which allow students to:
- Find multiple ways of solving a problem.
- Ask their own questions as well as answering the teacher’s.
- Discover relationships, patterns and make connections that are new to them.
- Conjecture about the results of making changes.
- Setting up an environment in which mistakes are allowed.
Figure 2 Developing the Cambridge Learner attributes,Cambridge Assessment International Education, page 74
How to develop creativity in foreign Languages?
- Organize project that can involve students of other schools to give the possibility to practice the foreign language.
- Youth exchange about specific topic (culture traditions, food tradition, etc.) Check Erasmus+ opportunities on:
Ken Robinson, TED talk, How schools kill creativity.
Kampylis, Berki. (2014). Nurturing creative thinking. International Academy of Education, Volume 25.
Guilford J.P (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, Volume 5, Issue 9, 444-454.
Oxford English Dictionary: lateral thinking, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
Oxford English Dictionary: open-mindedness, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
Lin, Y. (2011) Fostering creativity through education – a conceptual framework of creative pedagogy. Creative Education 2 (3) 149–155.
Lin, Y. (2019) Teaching English Writing to Develop Creative Thinking Skills For High School Students.
Stankodic, Basic, Papic, Aleksic (2011). The Education of using mind maps in teaching.
The Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono. https://www.debono.com/
Developing the Cambridge Learner Attributes guide,Cambridge Assessment International Education. 53-74
Budd Rowe, M. (1986). Slowing down may be a way of speeding up! Journal of Teacher Education, 37, p. 43.
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Coordinator – Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci – Italy