The biggest mistake in policy discussion – part 2

Yesterday I mentioned one of the big mistakes – confusing means and ends. Today, it is confusing the positive with the normative. Many argue for how education should be (normative), while clashing with people who consider how education actually is (positive). Of course, there should be interaction between the two. Indeed, a lack of balance is often the main issue, where one perspective crowds out the other. Positive analysis can draw accusations of heartlessness and self-interest, which is similar to those in part 1 who consider that some people favour elitism when they argue against certain interventions aimed at boosting the lower achieving. Much of education ideology seems to be normative in thinking, aiming for values like equity and inclusion. I’m not against these values, and they have their place, but it doesn’t seem to be balanced by positive arguments to provide grounding and perspective. When positive analysis tries to enter into the debate, people can interpret your analysis as meaning you are in another camp with respect to values. Perhaps, to some extent, you are. But it is a mistake to jump to this conclusion. Perhaps these concepts should be taught at school…


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