Ed: My metaphors are murder?
I didn’t watch BBCQT from Inverness but did catch comments and clips on twitter. Looks to have been a more balanced audience – if not panel – with pro-indy voices making good points, coherently and eloquently.
However, one clip I watched was of the contribution of a Tory ‘activist’ in the audience and it triggered this comment. It concerns the constantly repeated Unionist refrain: ‘Scotland’s failing education system’.
This is an only too obvious tactic. It’s well know from psychology that repeating something many times reinforces the message and – unless contrary information is acquired and/or the discourse is reframed – eventually may get accepted by the subconscious as being the truth.
Repetition is one of the most simple but highly effective ways to ingrain information or pass a message. If the media is dominated by those taking a particular political position, ‘repetition’ is of course made more feasible.
I sympathise with SNP politicians on panel shows or in televised debates in seeking to rebut or reframe. Firstly, the charge ‘failing education’ is often made in a list of similar unsubstantiated negatives – the ‘Gish Gallop’ debating tactic (see below). It takes a VERY skilful debater to counter claims on what is one or multiple complex policy areas in the limited time available.
Secondly, and related to the above, those claiming ‘failure’ never have to define what they mean by this, and on education, rarely provide evidence beyond ‘PISA’! ‘Education’ is a complex, multifaceted area of public policy. Even rebutting PISA scores is a substantial task!
Thirdly, the fact that Scotland’s education system is NOT perfect is not disputed by me – nor by the Scottish Government. How could it possibly be otherwise? Show me any education system – indeed any area of public policy – anywhere, anytime that is perfect? Mature political discourse would acknowledge, and make use of, space between ‘successful’ vs. ‘failed’ positions. But I doubt the Tory activist claiming education failure on BBCQT was interested in debating education!
But my main point here is different. Gaslighting of the Scottish education system has been going on for years. Are members of the teaching profession and their representatives, notably the EIS, unaware or unconcerned with this? Are they aware but content to ignore it, to refrain from pushing back in public fora? Or have I missed the profession’s push back?
For the intrinsic status and reputation of Scottish education – and more, for the public standing of the teaching profession in Scotland – is this OK? Is simply responding as individual teachers at the ballot box sufficient? Should a point come when teaching – as a profession – decides ENOUGH UNSUBSTANTIATED DENIGRATION IS ENOUGH and begin defending its reputation and achievements out of professional self-interest? I wonder.
For those new to the concept of the ‘Gish Gallop’ -see https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_Gallop