Challenging Minds

Not understanding the paradox of changing minds. During youth, the mind changes relatively easily. Remember: at around 10 years old, peer group pressure replaces adults as having the greatest impact on youth. On the other hand, the mind is a surprisingly conservative mechanism, with theories, concepts, stories, skills, etc being formed early, becoming entrenched and may resist specific change

"...it is more difficult to change the mind when perspectives are held strongly, and publicly, and by individuals of rigid temperament. It is easy to change minds when individuals find themselves in new environments, surrounded by fears of different persuasion......for when individuals undergo shattering experiences (for example, a severe accident, a divorce, or an unexpected death) or encounter luminous personalities......the opportunities for backsliding are patent..... it's easy to talk of changing mind in general than to effect enduring changes in any particular mind..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

There are 6 different arenas in which mind changing can take place. It is like an inverted pyramid

"... large-scale changes involving the diverse population of a region or an entire nation

large-scale changes involving a more uniform or homogeneous group

changes brought about through works of art or science

changes within formal instructional settings

intimate forms of mind changing

changing one's own mind..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

Examples of the first arena include the pervasive influence of exceptional political leaders, such as President Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, etc; the second arena includes organisations, corporations, clubs, etc; examples of the third arena include the influence of Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, the Beatles, etc; the fourth arena includes schools, etc,; the fifth arena includes the family, friends, work mates, etc; the six arena is usually linked with an external agent or factor.

. Not realising that mind changes can occur indirectly through scientific discovery, scholarly breakthroughs and artistic creations. Generally the indirect leaders operate outside the political sphere. Consider the impact, for example, of Albert Einstein in physics, Charles Darwin in biology, etc in the scientific arena; artists, such as Pablo Picasso, etc; writers such as, William Shakespeare, philosophers such as Karl Marx, etc, have all had major impacts on changing people's minds. In many cases, their names became known and ideas spread without public awareness of the identity of the creators.

Howard Gardner (2006) has suggested that artistic masters change our minds in 3 ways, ie

i) they expand our knowledge of what is possible in artistic medium by developing new skills in a medium that ask the audiences to develop a complementary ensemble of perceptual skills

ii) by employing new methods

iii) the artists help the audience understand and define the spirit of an era

. Sometime matters of faith or strong fundamentalism views will restrict people from changing their mind.

"...all of the efforts within the fundamentalist community are directed towards shoring up the current belief system and rejecting alternative notions..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

Furthermore,

"...A monolithic framework does not create a critical mind. Where there is only one self-evident truth, nothing ever gets challenged and no sparks of creativity getting it generated?..."

David Hartman as quoted by Howard Gardner, 2006

For example, scientists with strong fundamental religious beliefs found it hard to accept Darwin ideas on evolution. Other examples include

"...skepticism greeted Copernicus's heliocentric views of the universe, Einstein's theory of relativity, Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, Freud's theory on the unconscious, and Wegener's Continental drift, amongst others..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

Furthermore, it is suggested that people

"...trained in the old ways of thinking, would have to abandon deeply ingrained and dearly held notions. The new paradigm is most likely to be embraced by individuals who are just beginning to work in a particular domain.......the young turks' lack of vested interest in the old perspective, they are more likely to be flexible, and, indeed (particularly if they are later-born)......they may gain a certain pleasure in seeing the old dogmas overthrown and in having the opportunity to pursue a fresh approach......for a youthful or iconoclastic segment of the population, then, the very resistance to an idea in general can incline members of that segment to accept the idea more readily..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

. Not realising the importance of oscillating between periods of relative free exploration and carefully cultivated disciplines and skill

 

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