Friday, January 11, 2008

What Have You Changed Your Mind About?

Every year an entity called The Edge Foundation presents a question to intellectuals, scientists, celebrities, philosophers and educators.

The Edge Annual Question — 2008

When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that's faith.
When facts change your mind, that's science.


It strikes me as an important question teachers need to ask of their students. I see first year students asked to investigate a controversial issue who come in to the library already knowing what they believe--without evidence, without data, without experience, but with the faith that there are simple immutable answers which they really don't need to justify. This writing exercise is for them divorced from critical thinking, as everything is black or white, right or wrong, true or false. Such is the nature of first year students. What are we doing to push them beyond this simplistic view of the world? Maybe reading about how even the brainiacs of the world sometimes change their minds about big and small issues could be such a nudge to complex thinking. Besides they are fascinating reads.

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