Why 'Mental Liquidity' Is the Key to Success in Education and Beyond
- Foster intellectual humility by being open to new ideas and perspectives
- Be willing to adapt teaching methods and materials in response to changes in the education system or new information about effective teaching practices. Use evidence and research to plot your course.
- Teach students to be open to changing their minds when new information is discovered by modeling mental liquidity. This should be accompanied by lessons on how to identify reliable sources of information.
Mental liquidity is in short supply. It’s the ability to quickly abandon previous beliefs when the world changes or when new information is discovered. It emphasizes the importance of being open to changing one's mind, even when it's difficult to do so. Einstein is a classical example of this. He initially downplayed the importance of quantum mechanics. Five years later he came around saying, “I am convinced that this [quantum] theory undoubtedly contains a part of the ultimate truth.”
The idea of mental liquidity also pairs well with intellectual humility. This is the willingness to recognize the limits of one’s own knowledge and to be open to new ideas and perspectives. Mental liquidity and intellectual humility go hand in hand.
For educators, the concept of mental liquidity could be applied to their teaching. Teachers must be willing to adapt their methods and materials in response to changes in the education system or new information about effective teaching practices. Intellectual humility is also important for teachers, as they must be aware of their own limitations and be open to learning from their students and their colleagues. By cultivating mental liquidity and intellectual humility, teachers can create a more dynamic and effective learning environment that benefits both themselves and their students. By modeling this, teachers can help students learn the value of analyzing new information to formulate modify/change beliefs as needed.
Technology improvements are going to reveal new ideas and expose weaknesses in old ideas. Staying “mentally liquid” will help humanity remain nimble enough to make changes when needed. Adapting to new information and data is a crucial skill for the future.