I found a conversation between me and a friend who'd flown the Olin nest before I did. I usually go around saying "it's important to know what you don't know, " but sometimes knowing something steers you away from potentially cool mental paths - why whack through the bush with a machete when there's a beaten path somewhere you could be looking for? I wonder how you can know things but still retain a beginner's mind - to not have your possibilities limited by what's already in your brain.
Friend: I miss Olin, in a lot of ways... people [there] have a different concept of impossible.
Me: Wait, we have a concept of impossible? What is this "impossible?"
Friend: heheheh my point exactly. people here have limits...
Me: so do we, but we vehemently deny 'em.
Me: or blatantly ignore them.
Friend: Olin people don't have limits. Limits are entirely mental. As soon as you stop believing in them, they cease to exist.
Me: mmm, I'm pretty sure I can't go a week without sleep, though. that's a limit of sorts.
Me: chemically imposed. (darn this brain. needs an upgrade.)
Friend: But, like, learning, doing...
Me: right, yeah.
Friend: there is no "We can't learn to do that as freshmen" or "that's to hard for us yet"
Me: a lot of that, I think, is that the profs don't tell us it's supposed to be hard. like, I didn't know that calculus of variations was an upper level grad school course until I was in the middle of it.
Me: and then it was "ohhh, that's why it's been taking so long to get through this."
Friend: See, that's just it. Here, they say "No, you can't do that." At Olin, we say "Try it."
Me: well, the downside of the Olin way is that sometimes we try it and then bash our heads against the wall because it is hard. but nobody's told you that so you just think there must be something wrong with you.
Friend: ...Olin breaks people sometimes... But, more and above, it's an amazing educational experience.