Open (versus closed)
An ‘open’ classroom involves many open-ended activities, and invites new people, materials, ideas, and values flow into the environment. A climate of openness is necessary for the development of student independence. It is characterized by exploration, risk-taking and tolerance. Students need to feel free to change their beliefs as they expand their understandings and perspective.
During a unit of study on nutrition, a class becomes curious about the differences between organically grown foods and those produced using “regular” farming methods. The students develop a set of questions they’d like to investigate. One of their questions focuses on the use of pesticides. The teacher invites two agricultural scientists to speak to the class: one who studies organic, pesticide-free farming and another whose research results in the development of new pesticides. The students debate the merits of the organic and traditional agricultural methods after completing their research, and questioning the speakers. In this way, students will develop diverse, informed opinions on the controversy.