Brainstorming? |


What is the situation with using the term 'Brainstorm'? I've heard conflicting opinions on whether it is a politically correct term to use whilst in the classroom. Can anyone help?
Paul Brookes


Susie Finch's picture

To find out the answer see our Ask the Expert: Brainstorming - offensive or not? Follow this link:

Kind regards

Susie Finch
Editor, Features

I am a training manager who was diagnosed with epilepsy at the grand age of 18 - let's just say that was quite some time ago. I regularly use the term "brainstorming" myself and was astonished to be pulled up by a police trainer friend of mine. He had been told that the term is offensive to epileptics ( not this one) and therefore he had to use the term "cloudburst" instead.

What a load of tosh !!!

Have had "Mind shower" suggested as an alternative!

Learners in my organisation launched into a minor debate about the PC-ness of the word 'brainstorming' last year, amid a shower of suggestions that we ought to call it 'braindumping', 'mind-showering' and a few other terms which, quite frankly, were a bit silly.

Therefore, I spoke to someone at the National Society for Epilepsy, who said that they didn't have a problem with calling it 'brainstorming', and in fact they still used the term in meetings.

However, it is encumbent upon us all as facilitators of groups of people trying to learn, to be aware of the sensitivities of the group and to be ready to adapt our language if someone in the group is genuinely offended by this, or any other word we use come to think of it.

How you do this is up to you...

You may like to review the suggestions generated in reply to a similar question last year:

I've heard that this particular storm in a teacup (I hope that use of the word doesn't offend anyone out there!) started at a teacher training college, where trainees were instructed by tutors not to use the word. When the trainees went out into classrooms, they took the notion with them and so it spread.

I must say, I've been greatly heartened by the response here. At times I've been made to feel like the world's last great bigot when I've raised objections to this in my work. I'm all for sensitive and considerate use of language but this just plain wrong. It's been great to know I'm not alone!

I came across this recently and rather like the picture it paints- discussing why a project failed or missed deadlines, and who to blame!

I think that this is PC gone too far. No self respecting training professional would knowingly offend anyone. This phrase has been in use for many years and it does exactly what it says on the tin. How many other phrases will we have to change / stop using to remain "PC"..?!!! I use this phrase and will continue to do so. Plus there are much more important things to worry about.

If you have concern for others it makes sense not to use terminology that would directly offend - I wear glasses and would not like it if someone addressed me as 'Hoi specky' :)

However political correctness is (generally) a vile and pointless process created by people who have no concern for others and just want to set rules and have control - I try to challenge PC speech or thought whenever I come across it - and suggest that others do the same.

Role Play - to avoid upsetting unemployed (sorry, resting!) actors

Team work - those who never got picked for the fifth form hockey/football team

Black/white board - obvious?!

Problem solving - anyone with a problem...

...oh this is too much!!!!


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