Eleanor Roosevelt – Great Minds Discuss Ideas; Average Minds Discuss Events; Small Minds Discuss People

Great Minds Discuss Ideas


Eleanor Roosevelt – “The Object of Almost Universal Respect”

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1st Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women

The human brain is a powerful tool. In impossible situations, it is peoples’ ingenuity that leads to the greatest breakthroughs. Eleanor Roosevelt understood this truth and envisioned a world where more people might apply themselves to solving the most difficult problems faced by humanity. “What a shame,” she must’ve thought, “for peoples’ time and energy to be wasted on things that didn’t matter.” At the end of the day, who is helped by gossip? People sit around picking each other apart, drawing attention to every flaw that they see. That type of speech is not edifying, but rather divisive. Serving as First Lady during World War II, Eleanor must have envisioned a country that worked together, instead of tore each other apart.

“Great Minds Discuss Ideas; Average Minds Discuss Events; Small Minds Discuss People.”

Each time I hear this quote, I am cut to the heart. I grew up in households where people spent all day talking about each other and the most recent gossip. My sister and I tried to keep track of who was upset with who, and whether or not we should talk to our aunt or give her the cold shoulder. The division that was sown in my family years ago still exists. It’s easy for people to believe that they’ve taken the high road, but the next time they are is insulted, they bring up past hurts and heap them onto the argument. There’s another way, a different worldview, different philosophy to live by. Kindness.

I want to be different. I want to change my family tree. I don’t want the next generation of our lineage to be burdened with the feuds and events of our past. There’s another way to be a meaningful, productive member of society. If we look out the window, there is a hurting world in need of people with ideas. The world needs people who want to change the world. This wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt reminds me that I am not alone in the sentiments, powerful women that have come before me have lead the way for people to discuss great ideas and change the world.

I was recently excepted to a Masters of Art and Teaching at Mount Holyoke College with a concentration in Middle School Science. Middle school is a tumultuous time, where students sear each other with insults and students cry in the bathroom. I want to hang this quote in my classroom, and at every opportunity, instill in my students that they should be kind to one another and work together to talk about their great ideas.

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