Monday, February 02, 2004

Automating POSIWID

Richard asks: "Is it possible to produce a formal monitoring system that is sensitive to purpose? Can we automate POSIWID? ".

I would suggest that the answer is "Yes". Bill is the master of what he calls "The Front End" process. Basically, this is a method for analysing a proposition which has been put forward, by breaking it down successively, until it can be shown that the logical breakdown leads to a set of well-defined "pieces and parts" which can either be bought in, or produced by well-recognised processes.

Bill gave me an example of the approach on a visit to him in Florida. We were talking about the UK government's policy statement that the educational system is intended to produce a "flexible labour force". I stated the view that this didn't really make a lot of sense, but his suggestion was that my approach was incorrect. The way to see if this really represents a meaningful policy is to ask its proponents to explain what a "flexible labour force" is. How would be recognise one, if it was achieved? Unless we know how to measure whether we have one or not, we cannot tell whether we are getting nearer to it, or further away.

Having stated how this will be measured, and obtained agreement about this, we can then examine whether educational activities do lead to it, or not. Of course, it is immediately obvious that none of the proponents of an educational system which they claim is intended to produce a flexible labour force can be bothered to even begin to do the necessary work on this.

In other words, their refusal to demonstrate scrutable connectivity between their stated aims and their methods shows that their real intentions lie elsewhere.

Therefore, POSIWID could be automated, if people were not too lazy to do the work! Their refusal to do it shows that they are not serious about achieving their stated aims.