Sunday, 14 February 2010

Taboo Political Questions

There are few political taboos; subjects so distasteful that politicians won't talk about them. But there are still some and Dan Carlin brings up a pretty good one on his most recent Common Sense podcast. Should there be some sort of test before people can vote?

In America this is doubly taboo. Not only is suggesting some people might not be informed enough to vote correctly a big electoral no-no, but America's racial history is marked by distasteful electoral worthiness tests designed specifically to keep African Americans out of the voting booths.

Whilst I still have severe reservations about the concept of stopping people voting, it is certainly an interesting thought experiment to imagine a world where only people who know who is standing and what they are standing for can vote. Give it a listen and see what you think.

Another taboo question involves education. Channel 4 has been airing a Dispatches advert for an upcoming programme which asks why so many children are leaving school without the skills they need. The advert openly states something like "They aren't stupid, so what is the reason?". Erm... well here's the taboo: what if at least some of them are just stupid?

If we are going to rank our children through exams and tests, surely some are going to come at the bottom and thus be considered, at least by "the system", as "stupid". That is surely something built into the system as it stands. Society is so quick to assume that it must be the education system that is wrong, when in fact we all know through our daily lives that people's intellects are all VERY different. This doesn't make them a bad person, but perhaps if the Government and society acknowledged this more often we might be able to help these people in a better, more effective, ways.

But that's the problem with our political system... no Government would ever get in if they had stated that some members of the electorate were stupid. It's a Catch 22.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

1 comment:

Paul Brownsey said...

No, Jae, you've got it wrong. Everybody is *equally* intelligent. If kids can't get the hang of what they are taught, it's elitist to conclude that they must be unintelligent, dumb, etc, and we all know that elitism is one of the worst crimes you can commit. No, if these kids, who are ALL HIGHLY INTELLIGENT, can't learn, the reason is that they have some sort of *disability* that is preventing their high IQs from kicking in. Thus it is that in schools and universities kids who once upon a time would have been described as slow, non-academic, etc, now have disabilities diagnosed for them, usually dyslexia, for that term is now used, not just for a specific difficulty abvout spelling, but for a vast range of lacks. Having worked in education I have seen young people diagnosed with dyslexia on account of poor short-term memory, poor long-term memory, slowness in 'processing informnation', inability to order thoughts logically, difficulty in relating parts to whole and, on one memorable occasion, 'concept blindness'.