Staying open is the practice of delaying decisions or judgments to allow for a wider exploration of ideas and possibilities and it is the factor most associated with creativity  (Kaufman et al., 2015). Teaching students to embrace an open mindset fosters innovative thinking, promotes depth of understanding and builds resilience. Open-mindedness is so important in the world we live in and it is one of the foundational creative behaviors identified by Dr. E. Paul Torrance and Dr. H. Tammy Safter.

What is “Keeping Open”?

Keeping Open” means resisting the temptation to settle swiftly on an answer, an idea, or a judgment. It is the act of giving thoughts and ideas the room to breathe, to evolve, and to mature. It’s about being flexible, adaptable, and most importantly, always curious.

Why Should Teachers Care?

The answer is simple yet transformative: “Keeping Open” nurtures a classroom environment where ideas flow freely, where every student feels their perspective is valued, and where innovation thrives.

Remember that lesson where the discussion veered off your plan, BUT it lead to one of the most engaging and illuminating conversations ever? That was because you stayed open and let things organically unfold. These moments are golden, and they’re a testament to the power of staying open.

Free PD Training Download

This is the first of my series for the Torrance Creativity skills and I have created a PD for you to nurture your own openness to experience. I believe in mindfully practicing these behaviors yourself before trying to teach them to students with this packet called “Keep Open: Creative Behavior Training.”

open-mindedness, openness to experience

Reaping the Rewards

Fostering Creativity

In our rush to reach conclusions, we often stifle the incubation period that ideas need to mature and fully form. Delaying judgments and allowing thoughts to simmer offers students the confidence to venture into uncharted territories of their thoughts without the looming shadow of immediate criticism. Simultaneously, every student brings a unique perspective, shaped by their experiences, culture, and individual thought processes. When we actively value and embrace these diverse viewpoints, we cultivate a rich tapestry of ideas that broadens horizons and sparks originality. It’s in this vibrant amalgamation of thoughts, where boundaries fade, that creativity truly comes to life.

Enhancing Critical Thinking

In today’s age of instant gratification, there’s a prevailing temptation to grasp the first answer that appears. But genuine understanding requires depth. By urging students to delve deeper and not simply accept the obvious, we nurture an analytical mindset that seeks the layers beneath the surface. Critical thinkers don’t just accept information at face value; they dissect, analyze, and consistently question, adopting a reflexive habit of seeking clarity. And as they journey through this rigorous intellectual process, it becomes essential to revisit and reassess answers in the light of new information, which not only refines their understanding but also promotes a sense of intellectual humility.

Building Resilience

Life is filled with uncertainties. While we can’t anticipate every twist and turn, we can equip our students to handle them with grace and determination. By fostering a classroom environment where the unexpected is seen not as a threat, but as an opportunity, we diminish the inherent fear of the unknown. This open mindset, characterized by its adaptability, lays the foundation for resilience. It’s not merely about bouncing back; it’s about evolving in the face of challenges. With this mindset, students begin to see challenges as puzzles awaiting solutions, cultivating a sense of optimism. As they consistently face and surmount these challenges, they not only learn the content but also develop the courage to tackle even greater obstacles in their future endeavors.

Envision a classroom where students eagerly share their wildest ideas without the fear of being shut down. Picture a space where mistakes are not endpoints but rather starting points for deeper exploration. This is not a dream; it’s achievable. And the journey begins with us, the educators.

Let’s challenge ourselves:

Let’s Cultivate Openness to Experience / Open-Mindedness

In an ever-evolving world, our students need more than rote memorization. They need the ability to think, adapt, and innovate. As educators, it’s our responsibility to model and cultivate these skills. By practicing the principle of “Keeping Open,” we’re not just teaching; we’re inspiring. We’re not just imparting knowledge; we’re shaping the innovators, leaders, and thinkers of tomorrow.

Let’s embark on this exciting journey of exploration, innovation, and boundless learning. The horizon of possibilities is vast and waiting. All we need to do is “Keep Open.“

This month, challenge yourself to embrace one new strategy to ‘Keep Open’ in your classroom.

Have you had a ‘Keeping Open’ success in your classroom?

We’d love to hear about it! Drop your story in the comments below.