Changing A Mind

If you ever wondered why changing a mind is so challenging to do, whether it be the mind of a friend, a colleague or a lover, educator Howard Gardner’s Changing Minds – The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other Peoples Minds, should be your next read!

Howard doesn’t spend a lot of time teaching his reader how to manipulate the other mind, rather he skillfully walks his reader through a systematic approach that if done wisely and thoughtfully will help to begin the shift that needs to takes place for a mind to move and change from one perspective to another. Good stuff!

Howard Gardner
Gardner identifies seven factors that could be responsible for a change of mind: reason, research, resonance, redescription, resources and rewards, real word events and resistance.  These factors if carefully combined with the contents of the mind: ideas, concepts, stories, theories and skills could shift not only an individual’s mind but entire nation's minds. The use of art, symbols and linguistics combined or alone can also gently massage the human mind to consider, if even for a moment, another way.

Have you ever wondered why a younger mind seems easier to change than an older mind?  Gardner has reason for that too. It’s not that an older mind can’t change, like the old saying might suggest, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it’s that the older mind has had time for the ‘contents’ of it to settle in, get comfortable and the comfy old mind has a list of concepts, stories, theories and skills that almost assertively assist the mind to make sense of every action or deed, often with out a second thought.

Take the common initiative of today - ecological sustainability. You would hope that simply explaining to 76 million Baby Boomers that the American way to consume, create waste and hide it in the trashcan is no longer sustainable at the rate we are doing it would have the entire nation turning on it’s heels to do it a different way, right? Not the case, 20% of the seventy-six million (1.2 million) will dig in and change with just a little reason and research. The other 80% (roughly 74 million) want proof, want theory, want clear concepts, and exciting stories and skills and then just maybe the 80%, as long as it is convenient, might consider taking their own grocery bags to the market next time they go – maybe!

It’s not enough to be told that 2.4 million pounds of plastic find their way into the ocean every hour or that 60,000 plastic bags are used in the US every five seconds until the 60,000 plastic bags and 2.4 million pounds of plastic hit us hard by perhaps landing in our own back yard or our minds can make sense of the magnitude. 

To put things into perspective, you can visualize the 2.4 million pieces of plastic that 
make up Jordan’s Gyre with the images here.

If Howard Gardner had a chance to collaborate with photographic artist Chris Jordan it’s 

possible old dogs would learn new tricks, two birds could be killed with one stone and our eyes so often bigger than our stomachs would take only what we need – one reusable grocery bag at a time. Change your mind and take a peek.

For more fantastic visuals of the waste produced in the USA - please check out Chris Jordan's - Running the Numbers. If you thought plastic bags were out of control check out what he did with Barbie Dolls. 

A simple was to start making a difference today - check out the resource below for reusable grocery bags - they're not a dime a dozen but close if you count inflation.

Chico Bags


  1. Reason stands out as a particularly important factor for changing one's mind. We are currently living in a post-enlightenment era, which puts weighted significance on the ideals of rationality and the scientific approach. As humans, we feel the need to apply logic to almost every aspect of life, from what we think to what we buy, eat, and do. Gardner uses the example of a list of “pros and cons” as a rational argument for or against any idea or action, which the human mind produces almost instantly. The “pros and cons” can be used to weigh the gravity of a situation, such as the “pros” of sustainable practices like healing the planet, ending wars, or feeling good about one’s self, versus the “cons” of having to change one’s lifestyle, admit to past wrong-doings, and take a personal or political stance. What other Pro's and Con's are there?


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