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Golden Throne - View topic - Positive Discrimination
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 Positive Discrimination 
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Post Positive Discrimination


Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:18 pm
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The Locksmith
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I feel prudent to point out that this debate has the capacity to diverge down several, equally meritorious tangents (racial equality, social equality, physical equality, etc). Personally I'm of the opinion that positive discrimation is symptomatic of the trend towards unthinking, knee-jerk 'PC' reactions to any difficult social or cultural situation, and suffers from the inherent flaw that under the amorphous concept of 'Equality' such schemes invariably over-compensate for the problem they're trying to offset.

Tied up with this, there is also the apparent tendency of modern society to refuse acknowledgement of the basic truth of many of these situations; that one or more of the parties involved have fundamental and irrevocable differences, which you cannot hope to deal with unless you actually acknowledge their existence. 'Equality' is a highly fallacious and deeply flawed concept; people, as individuals, are simply not equal. This is not a discriminatory observation, merely a pragmatic one - The only way we could all be equal, is by being identical. Rather than attempting to focus on the impossible task of bestowing 'equality' on all and making everyone 'equal' (of which positive discrimination is one of the results), our energies would be better focussed on providing 'equality of access' (with the caveat of, 'where possible').

Education in both this country (England) and the US has a prime example of the problem I'm trying to illustrate: Mainstream Inclusion. The concept of mainstream inclusion, is that children at the more extreme end of the SEN (special educational needs) and SPLD (specific learning difficulties) spectrum should not be sent to specialist schools as used to be the case, but rather included in the mainstream schooling, as would those students without such disadvantages. The reason for this being, a rather skewed concept that specialist schools were in some way creating and maintaining an excluded populace of disabled or disadvantaged individuals. In this country in particular, the current government's drive towards mainstream inclusion led to the closure of many of our specialist and/or referral units, placing children with SEN and SPLD into mainstream schools ill-equipped to cater to their needs. You're then left with a situation, where either the rest of the class suffers due to the positive discrimation in favour of more Teacher-time and resources being allocated to the child/children with SEN/SPLD, or the child with SEN/SPLD suffers because the teacher(s) are unable to give them the time and resources necessary for them to fully access the learning, in the face of managing the needs of a large, mainstream class.

Idealism has its place, but if you want to make a difference, you have to see the problem for what it is first...

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Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:24 pm
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I broadly agree with the thrust of your argument Marquis, your thoughts are well considered and balanced with as you say a pragmatic approach.

I feel so much of the crap we have to put up with these days is dreamed up by people who want to live in the best of all possible worlds and fail to accept that large numbers of people are inherently bastards. The pragmatic approach is the only one you can take in this world. I think for as long as I live there will be inequality in all sorts of areas, when I interview someone I judge them on their skills and the ability to hold a conversation with me. I know people who discriminate and I know those who have been discriminated against, I put this down to life.

I ask a lot of my ethnically diverse colleagues if they ever felt they had been discriminated against. Only one of them said no. My friend who said no has such a force of personality and presence that I can honestly believe him. Perhaps in some cases discrimination is a state of mind.

I can say that I may never know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of discrimination so I have no way judging how bad the problem really is.

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Sun Sep 06, 2009 5:43 pm
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Positive discrimination has always seemed to me to be a harmful thing in that it undermines the achievements of those in the "benefiting" groups.

For example, take the difference between Ivy League and Oxbridge. The Ivy League universities were quite heavily tied to positive discrimination, and even now when the policy has been greatly ameliorated (wasn't it scrapped completely recently?) the reputation is still there to the extent that people feel that any black student who gets into Harvard did so just because they felt sorry for him or the government was forcing them. All this serves to do is make people think that certain ethnic minorities are never capable of getting in purely on their own merit, and that they "stole" more deserving students' places.

On the other hand despite paying lip service to the government, Oxbridge has never really gone out of its way to be "inclusive" and focuses purely on academic talent and potential (maybe with a side of rowing, but that's another story) and so when an ethnic student gets into one of these institutions all anyone can ever say is "well done, you obviously deserve it". Yes, the government has moaned at them, but the impression I've got from the professors and admissions office is that they really don't care and that they're not prepared to let Ebonics pass for proper English.

Maybe it's just because I'm part of a relatively privileged middle-class elite and that stops me from sympathising with the other side, but the implication that I would need positive discrimination to help me get on the same level as everyone else feels somewhat belittling. This may seem incredibly naïve of me, and it's almost certainly just because I live in a predominately lovely part of the world, but I'd rather suffer a little ambient discrimination and be able to claim that all that I achieved came from my own hard work, than have people say that I owe everything to an overprotective liberal state.

Sorry if my post is somewhat unreadable, I've just dashed this out over a cup of tea.

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Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:43 pm
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Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:59 pm
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