I don’t like jargon – it seems to me that it is a cheap currency that devalues important ideas. I do like ideas. And I do like thinking. In vogue in many walks of life at the moment – from business to education – is the phrase ‘Growth Mindset’. I have a problem with that phrase.
Linguists and philosophers tell us the power that words have to shape the way we think about something: words become a ‘frame’ through which meaning is viewed. So saying ‘No problem’ is an unwise phrase for sales and service people to say to us, because the very word ‘problem’ invokes the idea of difficulties. Even though the phrase is fronted by ‘no’, the ideas of problem has been introduced to us.
And so to the phrase ‘Growth Mindset’. It is a phrase that means ‘flexible thinking’, which of course, is the opposite of fixed/inflexible thinking. But the very word ‘Mindset’ introduces the idea of something ‘set’ in our mind, some idea that is ‘stuck’ and cannot change. This is quite the contrary of flexibility. And the word ‘growth’ attached to ‘mindset’ is shockingly dangerous: mainstream economics of the twentieth century has been obsessed with the idea of growth – keep growing, more, more, more – without considering the sustainability of our planet to service such insatiable appetites, let alone the impact on precious human lives, and it is completely oblivious to animals and their way of life. To be fixated on growth is not a good idea.
‘Growth mindset’ is contrary to the very idea it attempts to espouse.
‘Flexible Thinking’? Now that’s an idea I can get behind.