Sunday, 16 September 2012

Mea culpa (or why Michael Gove really should be running the WHOLE government)

I made the mistake in my last post of trying to offer a reasoned and thoughtful analysis of what is wrong with Michael Gove's proposals for a return to an O-level type exam system. I'm sorry. It was a schoolboy error and demonstrated my innate inability to understand the basics of Tory philosophy. Reasoned, careful arguments are a sure sign of wet, liberal, Guardian-reading namby-pambyism. I should have known this and I apologise. Sincerely and deeply.

Because of course norm referencing is A GOOD THING. It is only right and proper that a (very small) fixed proportion of society be allowed to succeed whilst others fail. To argue anything else is frankly communist and as discredited as the average MP's expenses return. In fact, I now understand that the principal of norm referencing should indeed be more widely applied. It is frankly scandalous that so many people pass their driving tests, simply because they can drive WELL and not because they can drive BETTER than everyone else. Surely the top 10% of all entrants should pass the driving test and NO MORE. And in case that bothers anyone intending taking their test in the future, don't worry! You never know, it could be that on the day you take your test everyone else is utterly, unadulteratedly crap at driving and just by not killing a pedestrian you'll get through. Driving tests should be COMPETITIVE. It stands to reason. And if you can bump up your chances by nobbling some of the other candidates then so much the better.

It is a well known fact, accepted by all but the most dyed-in-the-wool socialists that competition INEVITABLY leads to improvement. So surely the concept should be applied more widely. Mr Gove has led the way, of course, arguing that all schools should be better than the average (of COURSE they should. It is only swivel-eyed left-leaning mathematicians who argue that by definition nearly 50% of any sample must be below the average) but where he leads others should follow suit. Antibiotics shouldn't be offered to just anyone with a condition susceptible to treatment by antibiotics. That's criterion referencing. It leads to an erosion of standards- everyone knows that. There should be some sort of COMPETITIVE element to the prescription of antibiotics. I don't know- the patients with the top 10% of temperatures that day. It would lend a dynamic element of jeopardy to the visit to the doctor, because presumably you'd have to wait to the end of the day to see if you had come in the top 10%, when (if you had) you would get your antibiotics. Presuming you were still alive to receive them.

Of course the same logic could be applied more widely. It is patently absurd for people to be given disability benefit simply because they meet some criterion, such as that they are physically incapable of working. Would it not make sense that a fixed (and very small) proportion of applicants are given the benefit, thus ensuring that only the most severely disabled get any state support whatever?

Oh no, wait a minute. That is what happens. Of course. Yes. Well, carry on...

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