The Digital World and the Realm of Open-Minded Education
Zainab Kamran, a member of the LOG OFF Writers Group, introduces a concept of learning that assists in engaging students to be more receptive to advanced ideas, as well as promoting understanding and appreciation for other cultures and ideas, and talks about a social media platform known for it's efforts in this field.
Every individual is born with a creative instinct and everyone has a creative potential. Young children naturally engage in play – a state when the imagination is used to ‘try out’ situations and possibilities. For these children, the use of imagination and creativity is naturally engaged to ‘try out’ situations. During the scholar stage, children mature and hinder their creativity due to consequences 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 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 digital world has had a positive influence in encouraging and disseminating open-mindedness thinking. According to Cambridge Dictionary, open-mindedness is the quality of being willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to your own. This concept is an invaluable skill for young people. It helps 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.
In a world diffused with contentious issues of bigotry, hate speech, racism, homophobia, and such, the technological complexities of the status quo has allowed individuals to rethink their values and to take a step back to acknowledge the diverse lives across the globe.
Open-mindedness is a tool for the youth to rethink assumptions, identify misinformation and consider alternative ways to make decisions. Open-mindedness also gives the opportunity to explore how different people across the world think and act, considering experiences, beliefs, values and perspectives, etc. that differ from one’s own. It could be representing a counteragent to a latent 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.
Internet resources like TED-Ed are breaking the barriers of conservative education and promoting open-mindedness through the thousands of videos on their website and YouTube channel. Between the high-quality videos and the extensive collection of lesson plans, TED-Ed is a great resource for both the young and the adults looking for motivation, education, and maybe even some fun. With lectures covering different views from different places of different cultures, TED-Ed enlightens the young mind with the polars of right and wrong, that the seeming answer to a question isn’t just about accurate figures and critics. It is rather an amalgam of the objectivity and the subjectivity that has surrounded human nature since birth, and although many ways of the diverse mankind seem to align, it is for a fact that cultures and traditions play a distinctive role in the shaping of each individual. With their own, separate ways, cultures have continued to ascertain reality in their own spheres of right and wrong. TED-Ed evaluates the miscellaneous answers of humankind to perturbing questions and draws one to reassess the polarity of the self.
Videos like “A Day in the Life of an Aztec Midwife” and “The Legend of Annapurna, Hindu Goddess of Nourishment” conceptualise ancient beliefs and traditions through an anomalous modus-operandi of storytelling that doesn’t only mesmerise the viewer but also meticulously portrays immemorial beliefs and practices with the utility of accurate figures and characters.
There are numerous videos on “A Day in the Life of....”, each telling an exhaustively distinct story of an individual from a certain culture, thus renewing the mind with a surfeit of fresh perspectives. TED-Ed’s eleven-episode first season of the series “History vs.” takes a dig on important historical figures, including Vladimir Lenin, Richard Nixon, Cleopatra, Che Guevara, and Genghis Khan. Each episode typically commences with a question and follows a trial of history v. a historical figure. With conflicting judgements from each side, the trial is pushed forward and viewers explore how some of the figures majorly known for tyranny and blood-shed are depicted in a different light as well. The episode usually ends with a thought-provoking answer to the question put up at the start. This series is a captivating motivator for the young ones to put aside the conventional conduct of following a one-sided historical point of view that usually lacks the judgement, ideas and the finesse to draw constructive conclusions.
From Shakespeare and Greek Mythology to Microbiology and Elections in the United States, TED-Ed covers a plethora of topics with over 1.7K lessons easily accessible through their YouTube channel.
The videos and animations are highly engaging and as well produced as some of the best content online. While a few people might get bored or frustrated with videos on more advanced topics, the site generally does a great job of presenting complex content in comprehensible ways. For example, "The Basics of the Higgs Boson" describes the implications of this newly discovered fundamental particle using funny, kid-friendly animations. Video topics run the gamut and strongly engage the young minds' sense of both science and the humanities, from the lives of penguins to "Music and Creativity in Ancient Greece" and beyond. Many topics of interest that aren't usually included in the conventional curricula of schools are here, such as Design, Emotional Health, Personal Finance, Linguistics, and Anthropology. Videos by TED-Ed are continually added to the collection, and people can also use lessons created and shared by others. Teachers looking to work videos into their standards-based curricula would benefit from support to help them find videos with Common Core-aligned content, however.
TED-Ed is just one of the many examples of platforms that are digitally promoting open-mindedness. What this mesmerizing platform covers is just the tip of the iceberg as open-mindedness, per say, is a very multi-faceted topic. However, with the current technological advancements, one can’t be sure of what wonders the future will bring for people. It can be suggested that it will be easier to explore more about the different surfaces of open-mindedness and that maybe, maybe, one will be able to see a more tolerant and impartial society.
“MODULE 5: OPEN-MINDEDNESS & CREATIVE THINKING”. PRACTICE, Accessed December 10, 2020.
Robinson, Ken. “Do schools kil creativity?” TED, January 7, 2007. Accessed December 10, 2020.
“Meaning of open-minded in English”.
Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed December 10, 2020
Accessed December 10, 2020.
Website review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education, Updated April 2019. Accessed December 10, 2020.