What is Open Minds?
The Open Minds course is a place for ideas to thrive.
In response to prescriptive education systems and polarised societies, Open Minds encourages students to take a hold of their unique, individual explorations through deep engagement with a diversity of perspectives on our world. Students will be challenged to broaden their thinking on themes including inclusivity, tolerance, and ontological thinking and will be supported to find their own voices and creative reflections on these concepts.
Open Minds is not about memorising content, coming to hard conclusions or winning debates; it is about a richer, more personal, and ultimately more rewarding educational experience for its students. It is about creating a safe and supportive environment where students can engage in critical enquiry through a series of provocations set around a theme. They will embark on a journey to understand CURIOSITY, COLLABORATION, CHALLENGE, EXPERIENCE AND CREATIVITY.
Open Minds uses active and experiential techniques to allow students to look beyond what they already know and access empathetic understanding. The activities will elicit diverse interactions between the students, allowing them to use themselves and their exchanges as the source material to create a deep sense of personal understanding. Every participant on Open Minds will be asked to challenge themselves by looking at learning and listening in new ways. This will be supported through a variety of skills which will be approached together, including: active listening, consensus building, role play, deconstruction of societal systems, a holistic approach to tolerance and respect, collaboration, facilitation, and creative response.
The course will help develop an incredibly wide range of academic skills, which will support students to become independent learners. These include critical-thinking, research and analysis, devising and project management, as well as how to learn and work honestly and openly with others.
We will explore difficult questions, we will question what makes us uncomfortable and why, and as we work together with others from all over the world, we will work out the questions we want to ask and be empowered to take these forward.
The Course Structure
This course is available as either a two-week or four-week course. In both courses there will be classes running alongside each other exploring the same topics, but the focus of each class will be unique and responsive to the participants and their learning journey. This year the overall theme is 'Silence and Noise'.
Students will be working in classes of a maximum of 12 students, alongside a tutor and a class assistant. Some of the sessions will be run in larger groups, where we will have the chance to come together to engage with the energy and experiences of a larger group.
In the first sessions of each course we will explore together:
- What is an Open Mind?
- How to be Open to exploring ideas, each other, and ourselves
- Safe and respectful language and communication
- Asking real questions
- Skills for listening and understanding; engaging with people and beliefs different to ours
- Opening up opportunity to create change
- Why facing uncomfortable issues and different ideas can help you understand your own ideas better
In course A, the students will use sensorial and reflective techniques to practice new approaches to learning and will draw these out through the themes of connectivity, community, and loneliness.
They will use their explorations to work towards a collaborative project. The students will develop the project throughout Week One and be given a brief and format in Week Two to further guide the project’s development.
This project is a chance to use creative techniques to develop the students’ ability to find a voice to their process and different ways to work together, it should not be seen as a polished example of their findings.
Examples of final projects may include: an experience, a performance, an installation, or a piece of creative writing. All projects will be completed with the guidance of the tutors and the students will be challenged to create something new. Depending on the final piece, it might be shared with members of the School of English and Culture and the wider Marlborough community at the end of the second week.
Course B will follow the same structure, but with a different thematic focus. We will explore ideas around silencing, representation, majority and minority voices, and how film and the moving image represent these ideas.
Students will have the chance to learn film-making skills and how to use film as a creative voice for their ideas as well as a record of their explorations.
They will work together to make a final film in small groups, playing with sound, visuals, and editing techniques. It will be shared with the wider summer school community and they will have chance to reflect on the on the process.
Students will then have a chance to reflect on their learning throughout the module, both in their groups and in an individual session with their tutor. Following this discussion, the students and teachers will identify how to further deepen their process and learning.
Who can apply for Open Minds?
Open Minds is a rigorous and intellectually demanding course. It aims to foster in students a curiosity about the world, a desire to take ownership of learning, and a willingness to take risks and challenge themselves intellectually. Students are encouraged to take routes within the course that will truly push and develop their sense of perspective, perhaps coming out with fewer answers than when they started.
The course is suitable for high-level or native English speakers and as such there will be no specific language teaching within the morning classes. However, the format of the classes will undoubtedly offer an excellent opportunity for non-native speakers to perfect their language skills through discussion, debate, and high-level readings. The course is supported by an academic enrichment programme of talks, plays, workshops, and guest speakers that take place during the evenings and weekends throughout the course.
Before the Course
Open Minds involves a pre-course task and a Skype conversation to assess the candidate’s suitability for the programme and to start the learning process before arrival on the course. The course will be of particular interest to those who are coming from international schools and are looking to join a British private school or university or simply those who relish an academic challenge or are seeking educational inspiration and development.