Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Conductive and conducive

Another source of confusion

School consolidation (merger) is a hot issue in the forthcoming non-partisan school board election in Huntingdon W.VA, and featured over the weekend in the Huntington Herald-Despatch where candidate Parsons is one of those against consolidation, quoting the US Department of Education in support of his position:

‘This would keep the children in the community,’ he said. ‘The US Department of Education stated 'smaller schools are more conductive to education than larger schools.'

I don’t know whether the ‘conductive’ came from the US Department of Education or was a slip of the pen (easily done) of the part of the Huntington Herald-Despatch but, whatever the substantive virtues in the question of small schools versus consolidation, neither position across this divide is surely ‘conductive to education’.

They may, however, be conducive to education. ‘Conducive’ means that something causes, or tends to bring about a result.

This confusion is quite common, wherever English is spoken.

‘Conducive education’

And the confusion also works the other way, with people writing (or sometime even saying) ‘conducive education’

This confused phrase will probably be always with us, for no better reason than mistyping or mishearing. It has appeared in sources that look impeccably authoritative, even in Education Week, in the US Supreme Court and at Aquinas College (where I am sure they never trained ‘conducers’!). Ask Google to see what it can find if you don’t believe me – and now this posting will be another hit for 'conducive education'!

Yes, Conductive Education is highly conducive, to learning and to a whole raft of linked psycho-social and motoric outcomes. But the two words ‘conductive’ and ‘conducive’ are far from synonymous, despite their outward similarity and common etymologies.

So if you were searching for 'conducive education' when you arrive here, Conductive Education is something else!

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