Words, words, words
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There is much more that could be said, but anyone familiar with the field will recognise such patterns. The vocabulary examples are perhaps the more obvious. But there is another way in which language is used in such debates: the ‘No True Scotsman’ approach to argument. See page 32 of The Book of Bad Arguments. This is where one states a view, and when challenged, redefines one’s language to create a more defensible position. In the phonics debate, for example, a frequent pattern is for those challenging phonics to begin by saying that systematic phonics should not be used because it stifles creativity and motivation, and damages self-esteem. A series of statements evidencing why this is not congruent with facts, logic, or well-replicated research, results in the challenger arguing that phonics is not the only way to teach reading and that a ‘mix of methods’ will be in the best interests of more children.