One of the things I have to do as a professor is to serve on committees. I’m a member of a committee that oversees the college academic programs (curriculum). As part of our work we have to approve requests for new majors and minors. Sometimes we run into … strange… situations. There have been several times, over the years, where some proposals have come our way that have made me wonder what people are thinking. I’ve come across policies that dictate that a course may “count” for one person as a course in their minor, but another person may be taking the exact same course at the same time, for the same minor, but for them the course doesn’t “count.” Whenever I’ve encountered a policy like this, I have opposed it. I’ve insisted that if two people are taking the same course, it should “count” for the same thing for both of them. If it counts for a minor for one person, it should count for a minor for everyone. Period. No exceptions. Makes sense, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised at the arguments this sometimes generates.
Today our committee was being asked to approve a new minor. Built into this proposal was a line that would have the effect of limiting what a person can count as a course in the minor. In other words, two people could be taking the same course, but it would count for this minor for one of them but not for the other. I was getting ready to point out the stupidity of this and to express my opposition. I asked the author of this proposal to explain and defend this policy.
Surprise for me! He had a reasonable, logical rationale for this policy. For this first time, I could see why this policy could be supported – in this one instance anyway. As soon as I understood this, I … changed my mind about my opposition, in this particular case. Amazing!
How often do you change your mind about things? How often have you observed someone else change their mind? I’m not talking about changing your mind about a preference, but changing your mind about something you’ve thought through clearly and thoroughly. I don’t often change my mind about things like that, but I did this time. It was painless and immediate. As soon as I understood his rationale, it was a done deal. My mind changed in an instant. I recommend it. But only when it makes sense.