Making the Classroom Safe for Open-Mindedness

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3 Scopus citations


For open-mindedness to be an Aristotelian personal virtue, its possession must make agents better off. Unfortunately, open-mindedness does not currently pay. The reasons include (1) novelty glut — taking seriously even a tiny percentage of the worthwhile, available ideas would be overwhelming; and (2) deception campaigns — we lack the time, sophistication, and knowledge to uncover the truth ourselves. Our best coping strategy is closed-mindedness, that is, to ignore whatever we encounter unless vouched for by trusted experts. However, as Jessica Gottlieb and Howard Curzer argue in this article, student learning demands open-mindedness. Although open-mindedness is a personal vice, it is a student-role virtue. Thus, teachers must buffer their classrooms against those features of the contemporary world that make open-mindedness counterproductive. Teachers can counter these threats by using core practices that are general (such as facilitating classroom discussions) and content-specific (for example, engaging students in scientific investigations). Core practices enable teachers to craft environments and experiences that make open-mindedness great again.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-402
Number of pages20
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • close-mindedness
  • core instructional practices
  • open-mindedness
  • philosophy of education
  • virtue ethics


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