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June 27, 2012



Even academically rigorous studies are necessarily selective in world view, preconceptions and the choice of boundaries.

And different choices may produce different results.

Is the Lindsey Oil refinery strike not evidence to the contrary with regards to immigration.

And as for the lump of labour fallacy. If the immigrates capture all of the value of their work, and impose costs on the host society, (not to mention unquantified costs) isn't the net result a loss for the host society even though GDP may be greater!

Academic rigor is not a panacea.

And regardless of all the mathematics there is hardly a single agreed (rather than orthodox) view on the academic discipline of economics, but you want rigor in politics?

Curt Doolittle

The best policy reflects the demands that human nature places upon our institutions. Efficient and perhaps beneficial economics (they are different things) is limited by what is possible, while still maintaining a cooperative polity. A nation is not an administration. It is the willingness of people to tolerate that administration.


aragon is right, maths which may be rigorous is still used in most of economics to justify ideologically predetermined ideas rather than as a tool for scientific understanding.

Gove makes no sense. If he did introduce harder exams it will merely reduce the number of passes.
Education is about what students can do; merely failing more examination candidates does not improve education. Tory policies off course will reduce educational attainment by increasing poverty and inequality.

Chris Purnell

All state financed education is ideologically biased in that what is financed is what is approved of. Hence the discussion about 'faith' schools and their teaching of mumbo-jumbo. Other types of mumbo-jumbo are not approved of, hence no lessons in astrology. Outcomes are unpredictable and therefore a leap of 'ideological' faith. Some biases lead to some results but not always. Hence the 'Rise of the Humanities' has led to a population with a strong sense of entitlement: Or the benefit culture as it sometimes called.


On this occasion, Gove's purpose is creditable - a desire to roll back the move to easier examinations driven by competive forces on both schools and examination boards and avoid a two-tier system split by ability to pay Yes, academic success can distance one from one's background and peers and can in that way be both a blessing and a curse; the solution should be more mobility driven by more opportunity to excel, and the regular bumper crops of top grades prevent that.

You will have noted already that the privately-educated are differentiating themselves in increasing numbers with the IB. Gove's policy is designed to prevent that and is correct.

Account Deleted

Gove is indulging in dog-whistle politics. The word rigour here does not connote thoroughness and accuracy (i.e. the empirical use of the word) but rather strictness and respect for the established canon. It is a synonym for school uniforms, morning prayers, homework and detention.

What exactly would the non-rigorous teaching of maths look like? 2+2=5 perhaps? Is woodwork a rigorous subject? It involves a lot of accuracy. Clearly non-rigorous means non-traditional. Thus RE (i.e. mumbo-jumbo) can be rigorous. Anything that requires independent thought rather than a Gradgrindian regurgitation of facts is suspect.


Maybe, just maybe, the dog whistle threat of an antiquated rigorous curricculum that even gove knows is not fit for purpose but is only a requirement for local government controlled schools will prove a spur that drives the remaining schools into the relative freedom of academy status... just sayin'

Robert Allen

The downside to academic success that you highlight could have been easily overcome by applying a similar amount of rigour to the development of your social skills.

Andrew Fisher

'Perhaps "rigour" might be just an attempt to legitimate a sharper class divide'

Perhaps it might.

Faux naivety usually irritates me; but in this case it made me laugh.

Luis Enrique

" we become socially isolated, geeks, weirdos and nerds. "

the perils of reasoning from anecdotal experience. Some of the happiest least-isolated people I know are geeks, weirdos and nerds.

besides, if you really think that acquiring rigorous habits of thought is isolating, isn't the solution to increase the quantity of such individuals so they have more like-minded friends?

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