Misdiagnosis of fallacious logic

18th April 2003 at 01:00
JILL Parkin's argument (TES, April 4) was sadly muddled. Where is her evidence that raising and acknowledging achievement in different ways means neglecting bright children?

One could equally argue that late developers, particularly boys, are given the opportunity to excel, becoming the very doctors she implies are not at present available because somehow we are not allowing the bright to pass exams at the highest level. I was not aware that places at medical school are going unfilled as the brightest students have been discouraged by the sight of their less academic friends succeeding on vocational courses.

Ms Parkin offers the anecdote of her friend's son gaining a place at medical school with a B. What is this intended to prove? It adds nothing to her argument that the lack of doctors at Eastbourne hospital is linked directly to the failure to nurture the bright. Perhaps we could point her to National Health Service funding?

I am mystified by the assumption that teachers reading this article will be taken in by its emotive nature. Jill Parkin should be reassured that GCSE pupils at Eastbourne's comprehensives are taught to dissect such specious arguments and not only the brightest would be able to demolish her fallacious logic.

As a mother of an Eastbourne primary school child, she might be interested to learn that Ocklynge school, the largest junior school in the country, has an outstanding gifted and talented programme which does not preclude it working to raise the achievement and self-esteem of all its pupils. Perhaps Ms Parkin does not know that several local secondary schools already accelerate their brightest students on to AS courses.

Ms Parkin might not have known these details, but the paucity of her argument lends no credence to her central thesis that we must somehow revert to the system of her own school days, when "clever kids" got three As and "great jobs" and everyone else was second-best.

If Ms Parkin's flawed article is the best such elitism can offer us, I say good riddance to it.

Sue Dixon

8 Gore Park Road

Eastbourne, East Sussex

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