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November 07, 2007

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Shuggy

"There might be a case for raising the education leaving age to 18."

But there isn't a *liberal* one. Haste ye over there, Mr Dillow - the 'liberal conspiracy' seems to be rather short of actual liberals at the mo'.

Shuggy

"This is consistent with the possibility that forcing people to stay at school disrupts the learning experience for those who want to learn."

Btw, you consider this only to be a *possibility*?

Mike Ion

Yes it is the same report. You are very selective in the extract that you use - how about this bit from the abstract:

'I find students compelled to take an extra grade of schoolexperienced an average increase of 12.3 percent in annual income. I also find students with additional schooling are more likely to speak two languages,work, and less likely to be below the poverty line, unemployed, and in a manual occupation. The results reinforce similar estimates found in the United States and United Kingdom. They suggest mandatory school attendance legislation generated significant and substantial welfare gains, which were unlikely offset by the costs incurred while having to remain in
school.'

I think the evidence in Oreopoulos's report is compelling - raising the education leaving age to 18 is progressive, bold and socially just. The report from Canada does NOT make huge claims about attainment but it does offer powerful evidence that such a move can raise aspirations and increase the life chances for the makority of young people.

chris

Mike - I was very selective, because you'd cited the relevant supportive bits.
The paper focuses only upon the effects of raising the school leaving age to 14,15, and 16. You can't infer from this that there'd be benefits from raising it further, given that diminishing returns seem to set in at 16.
If diminishing returns weren't a factor, why stop at 18? Why not raise the school leaving age to 21? or 31?
The key word in the abstract you quote is "generated" - the past tense.

Mike Ion

Chris

I understand the points you make. However - the proposal is about raising the education leaving age and not the school leaving age ( this is an important distinction). The Canada report provides evidence that the longer people stay in education (full-time or part-time) the better it will be for them in the longer term - economically, socially and physically. The diminishing returns you refer to relate to attainment and not achievement - both are important.

reason

What what Ivan Illich have to say about all this. The idea of locking people in school who don't want to be there is not very appealing to me. But then I'm not convinced that school is there to facilitate learning at all. I think learning and education are very important. So important, that I think it should be a lifelong process.

As I see it, schools are there to select and socialise not to teach. We should be honest about it.

Dan

To Shuggy,

Raising the school leaving age is not necessarily an illiberal thing to do. As Chris said in an earlier entry:

"For freedom to really matter - and to win popular support - it must be more than the absence of state coercion. It must imply the opportunity to positively control one's life, to make something of it."

Substantially lowering the school age, or removing the legal requirement for schooling, would clearly be an illiberal move - poor families would be forced to send their kids out to work rather than getting an education. And so, raising the leaving age is likewise not necessarily illiberal.

Personally, I'm undecided but at the moment I'm leaning towards this being a good thing (regardless of whether or not it improves grades).

Mike Ion

To Dan

Far better reply than mine - thank you.

Shuggy

"Raising the school leaving age is not necessarily an illiberal thing to do."

No, it is. It would deprive 16-18 year olds of options they presently have. I'm afraid I don't accept the 'positive' notion of liberty. Freedom *is* the absence of coercion. Claiming it's something more is the sort of sophistry that has been used by autocrats since time immemorial. This is the core of the issue: you support a policy that you think will be beneficial but that isn't enough - you want to claim it's *liberal* too. But it just isn't. You're trying to reclaim a word and give it the sort of meaning it has in American political discourse. This would be regrettable, in my view.

Katherine

Of course, since 16-18 year olds aren't actually adults yet, arguments around liberty and freedom are somewhat different. 16-18 year olds can't vote, can't buy alcohol and can't get married (without consent), amongst other things. No one objecting to this educational proposal seems to have got on the liberty horse about these things, so why this thing?

Katherine

Also, Chris didn't say this was a "liberal" thing to do, he said it was not necessarily an illiberal thing to do. That is slightly more nuanced than your interpretation, it seems to me.

Shuggy

>>>16-18 year olds can't vote, can't buy alcohol and can't get married (without consent), amongst other things. No one objecting to this educational proposal seems to have got on the liberty horse about these things, so why this thing?>>>

Katherine - I'd agree that the arguments about liberty are somewhat different for 16-18 year olds but there's something everyone seems to have missed. It is that compulsory education applies to *parents* as well - who can be fined, or even imprisoned for condoning their childrens' truancy. Most people think compulsory education is justified - as do I - but it is, if you think about it, fantastically illiberal and shouldn't be extended further than necessary - and I think taking it to eighteen is further than necessary.

But the practicalities link in to the consent issue. Kids at 14 have already decided whether they want to participate in their education, if not before - and they resent attempts to force them to do what they don't want to do. Extending this fairly frustrating process seems fairly pointless.

The other reason for banging on about the liberal thing is the post appeared on a blog called 'liberal conspiracy'. A misnomer, in this case anyway.

Finally, through professional experience, I'd really question whether - given the nature of our schools - it can really be said kids aren't old enough to know their own good here. Pupil says, "Two years extra schooling won't do me any good"; Gordy and his 'liberal' supporters say, "No, you're wrong". I know whose opinion I've got more respect for.

(You can still get married at 16 in Scotland without your parents' consent, btw.)

Chris R

I find this gutting. The same summer two years ago as we listened to the radio when de Menezes was gunned down, I was working in a call centre. I was tasked with contacting young people (16-18) who had expressed an interest in a Young Apprenticeship. Call centres are soul destroying at the best of times (and this one was in Croydon,) but this job was one of the worst. Call after call, a picture quickly emerged. There were simply not enough Apprenticeships to go around. 99.9% of those that I called had not managed to get an Apprenticeship. They all wanted one really badly. Good idea, poor execution because there weren't enough companies signed up to take them on. I believe very strongly that this was the way to go - to recognise different skills for different people. So while I was slightly shocked, I am not completely surprised that the Government should change the leaving age to 18. They failed on this big initiative, so why not use that useful sledgehammer to crack the nut again?

Dan

Shuggy,

"Most people think compulsory education is justified - as do I - but it is, if you think about it, fantastically illiberal and shouldn't be extended further than necessary - and I think taking it to eighteen is further than necessary."

OK, this suggests we don't disagree on principle, but on practice. I agree that the age should be set as low as it can be, although for me that has to be as low as it can be consistent with my notion of liberty (which you must to a certain extent agree with, or you wouldn't see any benefit in compulsory education at all?). It could be a good thing to raise the leaving age to 18, just as it was a good thing to have compulsory education in the first place. The only question is: where do we draw the line? At the moment it's 16, but maybe it should be 14 or 18. You incline towards leaving it as it is, or reducing it, and I incline towards raising it to 18 (although as I said, it's only an inclination, I'm not convinced yet).

Glenn

There's plenty of evidence to suggest that vocational training helps 16-18 yr old who aren't particularly academic. I think the key thing is that its not so much the choice, but whether this age group get the right kind of education at the right time for their own abilities and aspirations, as well as the needs of the labour market.

Instead we get the constant comments about gold standards of A-levels and all that bullshit - which takes too much attention from other educational standards which might be more suitable to individual and employer needs.

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