American Educational Ad Hominem

Thanks to @OldAndrewUK I learned the meaning of “Ad hominem” the other day:

“an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise” (Wikipedia)

Thanks to Twitter, I see more and more of these every day. Take the USA education debate today:

“I find it disturbing that this makes sense to me: Ravitch Billed for Taxes Despite Refusing Pay –

“Bill Gates funds the education debate. Billionaire Agenda. Follow the Money. – via @readability

This is shameful mudslinging. Anyone with even the slightest balance of opinion will know that both Diane Ravitch and Bill Gates are passionate about educating America’s children, as are Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, etc. The Democratic and Republican parties are full of genuine, dedicated people who want to make the world a better place. The teaching unions are full of wonderful individuals with a vocation, and the companies investing in schools really want to make a difference.

Both sides are casting accusations and abuse, and then assuming that everything the other side suggests is intent on destruction and not debate.

Does anyone seriously think that vicious, personal, nasty attacks will open the debate up and win hearts and minds? Are the leaders on both sides stepping in to quash this nonsense? Not that I’ve noticed.

Sadly these character assassinations are cheered by both sides. They have stopped debating policy, they are undermining each other. In the process, they are undermining education itself. People will lose trust in both sides, opinions will become entrenched and nobody will be the winner, certainly not the kids.

I am, frankly, disgusted by the level it has descended to. The sensible voices are all but drowned out. I truly fear for the UK’s education system should this appalling behaviour take root here.

Go on, I dare someone to tell me:

“Yeah but they started it first, we’re the good guys here.”


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