Why can’t we agree about internal isolation?


Apologies in advance for a long reply. I want to make it clear that I agree with most of your analysis my only disagreement is with the idea that summing both answers over 10 is evidence of logical inconsistency rather then evidence of the sensitivity of responses to question composition.

Lets look at both statements.

Children should not be removed from a classroom and placed in supervised isolation under any circumstances.

Children have a right never to have their lessons disrupted by threatening or dangerous behavior.

Looking at the two questions the words any and never could be taken literally in which case they make both statements absolutes. In this case I end up disagreeing with both as there are circumstances in which I would permit both. (I give them both 0)

In reality, in this context, we don’t read any and never as absolutes but more hyperbolically.
Now we could state that both need to add to 10 in order to make it clear we want to investigate their relative importance on a scale. I am perfectly fine with that but it should be stated clearly as we shouldn’t assume that they will be interpreted as polar opposites.

Ideally we should phrase the questions like so,

Please assign 10 points to the relative importance of the following two statements. (I.e 5 points to both if equally important)

Children should not be removed from a classroom and placed in supervised isolation..

Children should not have their lessons disrupted by threatening or dangerous behavior.

Now if you want to see if a logical inconsistency occurs you would need to try wording like.

Please rate on a 1-10 scale how important the following statements are

We should prevent children from being effected by missing mainstream lessons because of their behavior.

We should prevent students from being effected by the poor behavior of their peers in class.

I am aware those are very different statements. The first permits the use of lot’s of 1:1 support to try and keep students in class while minimizing their effect on others. It also permits alternative activities and the use of rewards. (I don’t think these are good ideas by the way). As an aside I had to include mainstream in the first statement to prevent small group catch-up being permitted. (A more euphemistic wording for isolation). I also had to include in class in the second to distinguish between allowing dangerous students to be unsupervised out of class and being supported to stay in class. This doesn’t mean I advocate playground anarchy.

Now by this point I guess your saying what about the alternative phrasing.

Schools have an obligation to ensure children are never removed from lessons, even if their behavior is threatening, violent or bullying.

Schools have an obligation to provide safe learning environments where children are protected from threatening, violent or bullying behavior.

I do like this wording better. The issue is that the first still has the word never while the second uses protected which is less absolute. Let’s drop that never though by rewording

Schools have an obligation to ensure children access mainstream lessons, even if their behavior is threatening, violent or bullying.

This is much better but we are back to being able to provide 1:1 support, differentiated learning objectives and other inducements. Forgive my assumption but i am pretty sure we both agree on the value of those alternative approaches but if you do accept them as viable it is possible to square the circle and score both highly. It is not logically inconstant and is in fact exactly what has been going on in many schools as well as my own college.

I realize that I have taken liberties with my rewording and that there are loads of alternative phrasing but that is part of my point. That sensitivity to composition undermines the idea that we can conclude any kind of logical inconsistency in peoples responses even if, like you, I suspect it is there.

Hope this makes more sense.

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