Changing Minds is not like changing clothes

image from:,



One of the profound effects of education is your worldview changes, your mind changes.

You look at the world differently. Forever.

Change is never easy for us. Think of how hard it seemed when you first learned to ride a bike. You kept falling over. You couldn’t imagine ever being able to achieve the exquisite balance necessary to move your legs around the pedals AND stay upright, let alone steer the handlebars. And then, after a little or a lot of practice, many falls or a few, you did it. And from then on, you just know how to do it. You are forever changed.

Education is like this, too. To truly learn new things is hard work. Transformative. Sometimes painful. No going back. I wonder if most college students realize this when they embark on their four-year journey to become educated. Are they ready?

What are the ingredients for success?

1. An explicit desire to become educated. A student has to WANT to learn, WANT to change fundamentally.

2. An OPEN mind. This is a state of being receptive to new ideas. I wish I knew what the neural mechanisms of “openess” are. Some people never seem to achieve this state of mind.

3. A recognition that the process of becoming educated requires practice, failure, frustration, hard work- and the willingness to go through this often painful process.

And then, at some point, like learning to ride a bike, you do it. You look at the world differently. You look at yourself and your place in the world differently. You are forever changed. Educated.

I often wonder how our college education system does or does not achieve this state of being educated. Are there ways we as faculty might help our students get into that state of willingness to change? I don’t think it’s as simple as sitting in a classroom or working on an assignment. I’m not sure it’s possible to sustain that state of mind for four solid years, for every course a student takes. But, imagine what your teaching experience would be like if everyone in your class had achieved that educate-able state of mind!

image from: