Open seminar: "Shall we teach for Open-mindedness?"

Open-mindedness is a virtue highly valued in educational contexts. However, does open-mindedness imply a tendency to reject firm beliefs? To embrace any idea? This seminar points to the need for qualified arguments. Also, to the ways in which open-mindedness may require synergy with other intellectual virtues if our aim is to promote a just and open society.

Øyne som ser. Foto.

Photo: Pixabay


  • Welcome and a short introduction by Inga Bostad
  • Lecture by Marianna Papastephanou: Shall we Teach for Open-mindedness?
  • Comments by Torill Strand
  • Discussion


Open-mindedness is broadly understood as the appropriate attitude to alternative, conflicting beliefs, or, in John Dewey’s parlance, as an active disposition to welcome points of view hitherto alien. By implication, this virtue or state of mind is important not just for epistemic educational goals (such as overcoming prejudice), but also for the moral and political education that promotes a just and open society. Thus, it comes as no surprise that open-mindedness is valued in educational contexts.

However, open-mindedness is mostly valued unqualifiedly and in a simplistic, unreflective manner. It is often presumed to be uniformly applicable to accepting any new idea or situation and combating indoctrination. In the communicative form of a compliment and praise, open-mindedness is bestowed upon the self and others as an effected accomplishment of the educated person. However, should teachers and students consider any idea? Does open-mindedness entail that no firm beliefs are held? Do or can all views merit serious attention?

In this seminar, I problematize open-mindedness and illustrate the need for qualified argument through reference to controversial topics of classroom dialogue. I conclude by suggesting that, as an ethic of beliefs, open-mindedness may have a relational character and that it may require synergy with other dispositions that qualify when and where open-mindedness might be a desirable response to a complex world and a factor of promoting intellectual justice.

Bilde av professor. Foto.

Marianna Papastephanou , University of Cyprus, is professor II at Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oslo (private photo). She has studied and taught at the University of Cardiff and in Berlin, Germany. She is currently teaching Philosophy of Education at the Department of Education, University of Cyprus.

She is author of many topical books and papers on political philosophies of education. Recent titles are Educated Fear and Educated Hope (Sense Publishers, 2009);  Thinking Differently About Cosmopolitanism (Paradigm, 2012) and Cosmopolitanism: Educational, Philosophical and Historical Perspectives (Springer 2016)


Published Aug. 28, 2019 11:41 AM - Last modified Aug. 28, 2019 11:42 AM