A defence of the fixed mindset

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The growth mindset has been so universally heralded as ‘a good thing’ that it’s in danger of becoming one of those memes we think withrather than about. A number of commentators have been critical of the way mindset theory has been uncritical adopted and unthinkingly applied, but what if growth isn’t always good? What if sometime we might be better off to be ‘fixed’ in our attitudes and beliefs?

This is something that has been simmering away on my back burner for months, but then I encountered the following passage in the philosopher, Daniel Dennett’s magnificent (and very witty) treatise on the human mind, Consciousness Explained:

[T]here are a range of possibilities , settled by evolutionary processes: some elements of the system of representation can be – indeed must be – innately fixed, and the rest must be ‘learned’. While some of the categories of life that matter (like hunger and thirst) are no doubt ‘given’ to us in the way we are wired at birth, others we have to develop on our own.

What he’s saying is that certain ways in which we think are innate, fixed in consciousness and that others are acquired through a process of growth. Although growth is being equated with learning, at least this is a positive representation of things being fixed in our minds.

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