A photograph of a male teacher in a school. He is wearing glasses and has several lanyards hanging around his neck.

Source: Summit High School NJ Math Teacher David Pease, Tomwsulcer, Wikimedia

Read the essay below and help the author find the best revisions for the introduction, conclusion, and thesis by answering the questions that follow.

Changing Your Mind for the Better

(1) When Voltaire said that he would defend to the death people’s right to say what they want to say, he probably meant to imply “as long as they believe what they are saying.” (2) I don’t think he meant people have a right to lie. (3) Also, I don’t think that he meant people have a right to say things that they don’t know for sure. (4) In other words, it seems that Voltaire was referring to opinions that are secure and established. (5) These are the opinions he would defend people’s right to express.

(6) People should not be irresponsible about expressing opinions, but people should be allowed, even encouraged, to say what they think at the time and then reconsider it later. (7) In the tradition of Voltaire, someone should defend people’s right to express opinions and later change them.

(8) Last year my English teacher, Mr. Roberts, said that learning involved “changing your mind”; therefore, if you were not changing your mind, you were not learning. (9) He loved it when, during a discussion, someone would say, “I know I just said that I’m against hunting for sport, but now I’m starting to change my mind about it.” (10) It didn’t matter whether the person’s mind was changing to agree with Mr. Roberts or not. (11) A lot of the time, we didn’t know what Mr. Roberts thought. (12) The thing that made him happy was that someone was willing to listen to and be influenced by what other people were saying. (13) He seemed happy that the person was not stuck in a defensive mode of arguing a side whether that person still believed it or not.

(14) I used to think that changing your mind about beliefs (being for or against capital punishment, for example) was a sign of intellectual weakness. (15) It was “flip-flopping.” (16) Now (Mr. Roberts would be proud to know), I’ve changed my mind about this. (17) Of course, a politician who speaks against gun restrictions before the National Rifle Association and then speaks in support of them before a group of liberal-minded people from San Francisco, is not speaking responsibly. (18) That politician is pandering to audiences and not making serious statements about his or her beliefs. (19) That politician is flip-flopping.

(20) On the other hand, someone who refuses to change an opinion no matter what is not thinking responsibly either. (21) “That’s just what I believe,” the person might say. (22) “My father doesn’t believe in ‘x,’ my grandfather doesn’t believe in ‘x,’ and I don’t believe in ‘x.’ (23) I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this.”

(24) People often want us to petrify our thoughts. (25) People want to think they know us and can predict not only our actions, but also our ideas and preferences. I, for one, do not want to be restricted to my initial opinion because I might change my mind. (26) I want to live my life as a learner, constantly struggling to make sense of things and changing my ideas as I continue to learn. (27) I guess I can be the one who says he will defend other people’s rights to express opinions and then change them. (28) As far as “defending to the death” goes, I’ll have to think about that. (29) I could say I would, but I might change my mind.

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