Disability, dishonesty and maths

October 23, 1998

I was entertained to see my old comrade Frank Furedi banging on about cheats and cheating. Despite my amusement I do share his dismay at the proliferation of ill-defined disabilities among students that appear to be the product of junk food, a lack of exercise and general unfitness for the trials of everyday life.

But I do feel we ex-Marxists have a responsibility to keep prejudices borne of our political failure and advancing years in check. Consequently it might be more valuable if we considered the growing tendency of students to claim some form of disability from a more thoughtful perspective.

Furedi's strategy of attributing the pandemic of dyslexia, dysgraphia and many a new-fangled syndrome to "victim culture", a failure of nerve or just plain old dishonesty is, no doubt, aimed at restoring faith in the verities of level playing fields and common standards. But surely reassuring conservatives is not the job of social scientists. On the contrary, we need thorough-going explanations rather than prejudices congenial to those fortunate enough to live without excuses.

Don Milligan Manchester

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