Malcolm Forbes

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”

A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday Snippet came by way of astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson. He spoke about the value of an education and how it is far more important that someone know how to “figure things out” than it is for that same person to simply memorize facts.

The quote above from Malcolm Forbes, former publisher of Forbes magazine, follows in much the same line of thought. He reminds us that the goal of education shouldn’t be to fill your mind with facts and figures that should be committed to memory. It’s more about developing the ability to see the world from different perspectives, critically analyzing each vantage point to determine which holds the greatest weight. It’s about having an open mind.

We are all entitled to our opinions and, as human beings, we will have them. We will all have our prejudices and pre-conceived notions about just about everything, but the key is realizing that there are at least two sides to every coin and just because you feel one way does not mean that the opposite side of the argument lacks merit.

Indeed, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

With great knowledge and understanding can also come great confusion, indecision, and mental anguish, but it is only through healthy debate and critical thinking that we can move forward. Be open to what other people have to say, even if you disagree with every word uttered.