Little to say for myself

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

E for execrable

Whoever wrote this leader in today's Telegraph, about the "execrable" standards of British education, clearly lacks a certain level of mathematical education themselves.

Basically, the article implies that the Government's lying when it says that educational standards are improving, because:
According to Pisa's international league tables, the relative standards of attainment of British 15-year-olds have plummeted over the past three years. In maths, Britain has slipped from eighth place to 18th among the 41 countries in the survey. In science, we are down from fourth place to 11th, and, in reading, from seventh to 11th. Yet these are the very subjects on which the Government claims to have concentrated most.
Taking the "mathematical" view, there is nothing in that which implies that Britain's educational standards are falling. It could be that they are simply not rising as fast as some other countries'.
When sprinters line up at the start of a race, they are all level. At the end of the race, following the article's logic, the sprinter who came last must have been running backwards. Bollocks.

The writer also inadvertently reveals a level of xenophobia (lack of "reading" education?):
Any government can make itself look good, by fiddling its own figures. By the objective standards of the rest of the world, however, this Government's record on education is a disgrace.
What this says is that it is a disgrace for other countries to have better educational standards than Britain. This implies that it would be acceptable, nay preferable, for other countries to have standards that are worse than Britain's. Is this so that we can be justified in calling all foreigners stupid?

Why must everything be judged by way of comparison? Why can't we look at education in terms of what is being made possible for the individuals involved, rather than how "well" one group is doing, on some arbitrary measure, compared with how well another group is doing? That tells us nothing about what's actually being created, leaving us blind to the benefits.

posted by Plig | 17:00 |

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