May 4, 2008

The Alchemy Age of Education

Here's an excerpt from my new VDARE.com column on how to improve schools:

The vast education business is shot through with charlatans peddling snake oil because the mindset of the education establishment is anti-rational.

Contemporary education theory resembles medieval alchemy, with its high-priced gurus preaching contradictory techniques, because the basic fact—you can't turn lead into gold—is inconceivable.

Yet, once people gave up on the idea of turning lead into gold, they found there was a tremendous amount they could do with lead and gold and all the other elements. The age of scientific chemistry had begun, to the great benefit of humanity.

We're still in the Alchemy Age of education, though.

The essential problem facing any education system: half the kids are below the median in educability.

That's a tautology, so it has to be true. But, to our educrats, it's a damnable heresy.

If we could raise each student to his or her full potential—which of course would be much better than we're doing now—the top half would leave behind the bottom half.

Of course, that's exactly what we're not supposed to do, according to the No Child Left Behind act put together by President Bush and Senator Kennedy.

[More]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

49 comments:

Stirner said...

Steve,

More appalling is that the contemporary educrats *have* managed to identify a curriculum that manages to bring the left side of the bell curve up to middle class standards.

Of course, once they did identify a curriculum that worked, they had to bury the results, because they revealed that: 1) The vast bulk of educrat theory is pure snake oil, 2) There is no closing the gaps between high-IQ and low-IQ students.

some basic information on Project Follow Through and the Direct Instruction curriculum is here:
http://www.mathematicallycorrect.com/honestft.htm

Ken DeRona - the Steve Sailer of education blogging - has written extensively about Direct Instruction as well:
http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/search?q=direct+instruction

testing99 said...

Steve -- IQ is important, but it's not everything. The US during the period 1880-1920 or so took in many immigrants, many of non-Einstein IQs. And did a fair job of educating them.

The problem with the Education Establishment is far more than an avoidance of IQs. I'd say that's the least of it.

The problems stem from a lack of discipline in the schools, with far too much time being spent on babysitting and enforcing basic rules (getting kids to shut up so lessons can begin).

In addition, the fads as you say make neglect of the basics, inevitable. As well as all sorts of PC/Multiculti cruft that is taught instead of the basics.

What's instructive is looking at Catholic Schools vs. Public Schools, particularly in low income areas. While tuition screens out some poor parents, many receive some sort of tuition break. And poor parents in public schools will scrape up enough money for cheerleading and football fees.

No, what's the big difference is discipline. Catholic schools can kick out trouble-makers. Parents discipline their kids enough to avoid wasting tuition fees. Public schools around 40 years ago used to kick trouble makers out, but now they are forced to keep them. They lack the ability to get rid of them, and so discipline just nose dives for everyone.

The root cause of this is how Education has morphed into a major source of employment. For example, one district in which I taught for years, in the San Gabriel Valley, was nearly 90% Latino, gang-infested, and had the School District as the major employer, with most of the connected families (to the Mayor or City Council or School Board) on the payroll.

Multiply that State-wide, with the bureaucracy of the State Board of Education, having lots of make-work standards and theories and thus appetite for crackpot theories (so money can be spent creating new standards and monitoring compliance for said new crackpot standards) and you get the drift.

It's the Graft.

Modern Public Education is one giant scam to extract money "for the kids" and fund a giant bureaucracy that makes teaching and learning impossible.

Figure this: HS students from average school districts in the 1920's, under materially much poorer conditions, read and wrote at least some Latin. Could do the multiplication tables, fractions, and basic algebra. Could recite the names of the States, Capitals, and important historical dates.

Without all the wealth we have today.

Graft, lack of discipline make for bad outcomes at least as much as not acknowledging IQ.

alex said...

RE: lack of discipline

Yeah, but the resistance to discipline comes at least in part out of the IQ assumption. Since even the worst students are low-confidence learners or Cezzanes or whatever, the question is how to encourage them, get them interested. That generally leads to indulging them.

Teachers and teachers-to-be in ed school are always worrying about kids not paying attention. It'd be easier to turn them back to real discipline if they accepted that IQ was a fundamental issue as to why the kids aren't interested in the first place.

Also average high school districts in the '20s probably had higher average IQs than average high schools districts today.

Anonymous said...

Approaching the issue from a different angle, I mostly agree with Noam Chomsky's views on the problem with schools.


"QUESTION: What kind of schools did you go to as a child?

CHOMSKY: I was sent to an experimental progressive school from infancy, before I was two, until about twelve years old, until high school, at which point I went into the academic, college-oriented school in the city.

QUESTION: In New York?

CHOMSKY: In Philadelphia. That experience, both the early experience in the progressive school and the later experience in the academically oriented high school, elite high school, was very instructive. For example, it wasn't until I was in high school that I knew I was a good student. The question had never arisen. I was very surprised when I got into high school and discovered that I was getting all A's and that was supposed to be a big deal. That question had never arisen in my entire education. In fact, every student in the school I had previously attended was regarded as somehow being a very successful student. There was no sense of competition, no ranking of students. It was never anything even to think about. It just never came up that there was a question of how you were ranked relative to other students. Well, anyway, at this particular school, which was essentially a Deweyite school and I think a very good one, judging from my experience, there was a tremendous premium on personal creativity, not in the sense of slapping paints on paper, but doing the kind of work and thinking that you were interested in. Interests were encouraged and children were encouraged to pursue their interests. They worked jointly with others or by themselves. It was a lively atmosphere, and the sense was that everyone was doing something important.

It wasn't that they were a highly select group of students. In fact, it was the usual mixture in such a school, with some gifted students and some problem children who had dropped out of the public schools. But nevertheless, at least as a child, that was the sense that one had -- that, if competing at all, you were competing with yourself. What can I do? But no sense of strain about it and certainly no sense of relative ranking. Very different from what I notice with my own children, who as far back as the second grade knew who was "smart" and who was "dumb," who was high-tracked and who was low-tracked. This was a big issue.

Well, then I got to high school, the academic high school in the public school system, which was supposed to be a very good high school, and it was a real shocker. For one thing, as I said, there was the shock of discovering that I was a good student, which had never occurred to me before. And then there was the whole system of prestige and value that went along with that. And the intense competitiveness and regimentation. In fact, I can remember a lot about elementary school, the work I did, what I studied and so on. I remember virtually nothing about high school. It's almost an absolute blank in my memory apart from the emotional tone, which was quite negative.

If I think back about my experience, there's a dark spot there. That's what schooling generally is, I suppose. It's a period of regimentation and control, part of which involves direct indoctrination, providing a system of false beliefs. But more importantly, I think, is the manner and style of preventing and blocking independent and creative thinking and imposing hierarchies and competitiveness and the need to excel, not in the sense of doing as well as you can, but doing better than the next person. Schools vary, of course, but I think that those features are commonplace. I know that they're not necessary, because, for example, the school I went to as a child wasn't like that at all.

I think schools could be run quite differently. That would be very important, but I really don't think that any society based on authoritarian hierarchic institutions would tolerate such a school system for long. As Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis have pointed out, it might be tolerated for the elite, because they would have to learn how to think and create and so on, but not for the mass of the population. There are roles that the public schools play in society that can be very destructive."

This may seem like leftist idealism to readers here...but I think Steve might see the connection, eg, perhaps a minority student with little interest in taking algebra over and over again would be encouraged to pursue his interest in auto mechanics and be given the space and resources to learn something of use to him and society. Narrow standards of what a 10th grader should learn and know do little good -- both poor and brilliant students are frustrated for obvious reasons while even the average students are bored and anesthetized.




...and in case you were wondering how it all worked out for him, Chomsky goes on to talk about his continuing disillusionment in college.

"...I intended to drop out of college and to pursue these interests. The vague ideas I had at the time were to go to Palestine, perhaps to to a kibbutz, to try to become involved in efforts at Arab-Jewish cooperation within a socialist framework, opposed to the deeply antidemocratic concept of a Jewish state (a position that was considered well within the mainstream of Zionism). Through these interests, I happened to meet Zellig Harris, a really extraordinary person who had a great influence on many young people in those days. He had a coherent understanding of this whole range of issues , which I lacked, and I was immensely attracted by it, and by him personally as well, also by others who I met through him. He happened to be one of the leading figures in modern linguistics, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. His interests were very broad, linguistics being only a small corner of them, and he was a person of unusual brilliance and originality. I began to take his graduate courses; in fact the first reading I did in linguistics was the proofs of his book Methods in Structural Linguistics, which appeared several years later. At his suggestion, I also began to take graduate courses in philosophy -- with Nelson Goodman, Morton White, and others -- and mathematics -- with Nathan Fine -- fields in which I had no background at all, but which I found fascinating, in part, no doubt, thanks to unusually stimulating teachers.

...Nelson Goodman recommended me for the Society of Fellows at Harvard, and I was admitted in 1951. That carried a stipend, and was the first time I could devote myself to study and research without working on the side. With the resources of Harvard available and no formal requirements, it was a wonderful opportunity."


If only all of our troubled young students could take graduate courses in math and philosophy leading to fellowships at Harvard. Maybe Malcolm Gladwell can get on that for us.

Anonymous said...

The root cause is that there is no rational, free-market in education (apart from America's very succesful private schools that is).
The simple fact is that if a lousy business sells rubbish goods, it soon goes out of business, similarly a bad tradesman gets no customers, a bad lawyer, a bad doctor etc etc.
However the state education system of the USA and the UK operates in an alternate universe in which the main factor is giving teachers and bureaucrats cushy jobs - educating kids is an also-ran.
Saying that some countries (ie Japan, Germany) CAN run effective state education, but these nations have their own efficent, well-ordered characteristics.

The great economist Milton Friedman realized this years ago and recommended a 'voucher system' (ie the school is paid indirectly from fees in the hands of parents).
But, of course, the education establishment destroyed the idea.

Sleep said...

Oversaw this on another blog:

"No, I can't fix public education. The problem isn't the teachers unions or a lack of funding for salaries, vouchers or more computer equipment. The problem is your kids!"

Also I'm a bit of a heretic in that I don't think elementary school matters very much. Due to medical problems I got almost no formal elementary education, but it only took me one year (6th grade) to go from a special-ed student hopelessly behind the other kids to getting a C average in 7th, and then roughly B's thereafter. And I dont think I'm particularly unique, or particularly smart for that matter.

The reason I quote this little anecdote is to say that I dont think increasing discipline in the schools is going to help raise students' long-term performance. In elementary school, discipline may make students more attentive, and get higher test scores while theyre still young, but what really matters is high school, where discipline is fairly ineffective as a motivator.

headache said...

"The essential problem facing any education system: half the kids are below the median in educability."

Germany is good example of dealing with sub-par kids. There exists a 3-tiered education system here where kids who are not academic material are weeded out fairly early on (age 14-16) and sent on an artisan track. Many eventually become Meister, which is an arduous 5-year qualification procedure after the initial artisanship training (2 years) and basically authorizes an artisan to open his own business and train other artisans. As a Meister these artisans often make more money than engineers and other professionals, typically EUR 150-250 per hour, depending in their skill. Those artisans who don't make Meister get more advanced training and become Facharbeiter, specialized artisans.

When you travel through Germany you can see that the quality of the infrastructure is higher than that in your typical Anglo-Saxon country. It's because of these Meister and Facharbeiter, people who were weeded out of the academic track early on in school and placed on a rigorous artisan track where there is sufficient theory but above all lots of practical training and discipline.

Training under a Meister is comparable with being drilled by a sergeant, except you don't just learn to shoot a rifle, instead you learn how to do beautiful stone carvings for one of the cathedrals, how to do quality woodwork, how to restorate an old building, how to make high-quality concrete, or how to operate a CNC machine in one of the high-tech factories here.

Most of these workers would fail in academia and are not college material but their handiwork brings joy to everyone and boosts the country's standing and economy. In addition many of them are fairly wealthy and form the backbone of the economy. This is one of the reasons Germany is not so dependent on large corporations as the US and that the political landscape here is not so heavily in the pocket of big business.

The only real dropouts are a few percentage german sloths who end up cleaning public parks and of course all the foreigners' kids.

Of course the only people who want to drop the system are the socialists because it makes them feel inferior.

dearieme said...

"The answer is obvious: because the Picasso track would be full of whites and Asians, while the Cezanne track would be full of blacks and Hispanics." If you say so, Steve, but the same attack on reality occurred in Britain well before the immigration problem became a big deal.

Steve Sailer said...

A lot of Episcopalians are descended from ambitious businessmen who converted when they moved to New York City to make it in business after the Civil War. Episcopalianism became the default religion for being seen in the best congregations.

The Bushes are an example -- they started out as Puritans / Congregationalists.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: you can't turn lead into gold... The age of scientific chemistry...

If you had a particle accelerator [or the equivalent] which was capable of knocking seven neutrons, three protons, and three electrons off of a Pb atom, then you could turn Pb into Au.

The problem is that it's prohibitively expensive when you start talking about a macroscopically noticeable number of Pb & Au atoms [such as, for instance, an Avogadro's number's worth of them].

Similarly, in future decades [or centuries], it might be possible to alter the genome of a human being post-vitro so as to increase its IQ by 15 or more points, but it would probably be prohibitively expensive [certainly a lot more expensive than doing it in-vitro], and would be difficult to square with the Hippocratic oath [not that anyone gives a rat's ass about the HO these days].

Martin said...

"Anonymous said...

Approaching the issue from a different angle, I mostly agree with Noam Chomsky's views on the problem with schools."

Sounds like a crock to me. Chomsky's "progressive" (i.e., socialist) had a student body that was self selected. He says it was just normal folks, but it was probably a bunch of red-diaper babies (which is normal, for him).

By the way, Chomsky-fan, most of those who read this blog are not as enamored of Chomsky's prolixity as much as the typical Chomsky-zombie is. I could care less what that commie blow-hard hyprocrite has to say.

Born Again Democrat said...

re: discipline in the education

Don't laugh, but here's an idea: put two open-access webcams in every publice school classroom,on opposite corners of the room (so that no one can take them down or block them without being observed.)

This kills two birds with one stone:

A. Undisciplined children's behavior can be unambiguously documented in a way that can stand legal challenge, giving teachers and principles the evidence they need to enforce minimum standards. They don't have that now, and it IS a problem.

B. Ditto for incompetent teachers. I've got a few more details in my BornAgainDemocrat.com platform.

Gotta think outside the box.

Lucius Vorenus said...

testing99: No, what's the big difference is discipline.

You need an IQ of about 90 to have any hope of benefiting from a formal education.

Both American Blacks and "American" [illegal] Mestizo/Aboriginal [aboriginal to Mexico] Hispanics have mean IQs which are no higher than 85 [and which might be substantially lower than that].

Tell me what "discipline" is going to do for a child with an IQ of 85:

A) In a highly-disciplined environment, is it reasonable to expect that a child with an IQ of 85 will be able to master "complex" subtraction, where there is a great deal of "borrowing"?

Example:

1002342
- 986578
--------
= ??????

B) In a highly-disciplined environment, is it reasonable to expect that a child with an IQ of 85 will be able to master "complex" division, where a great deal of guesswork and sweat equity has to go into computing the answer?

Example:

97897699 / 32344 = ??? [quotient + remainder]

C) In a highly-disciplined environment, is it reasonable to expect that a child with an IQ of 85 will be able to master addition of fractions, where the child must first compute a common denominator?

Example:

67/72 + 53/60 = ???

Beyond that, in a highly-disciplined environment, is it reasonable to expect that a child with an IQ of 85 will be able to throw out common terms from the numerator & denominator in the answer to "C", so as to report the final answer in reduced form?

Or, in a highly-disciplined environment, is it reasonable to expect that a child with an IQ of 85 will be able to take the remainder in "B", divide it into the original divisor, and provide a final answer in decimal form?



**************************************************


Look, I am not an expert in the education of low-IQ children, but my gut instinct is that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, "NO!".

And yet these examples only get you to about a sixth or seventh grade level of achievement for Caucasian [and Asian] students who come from peoples with an average IQ of 100.

Furthermore, an IQ of 85 is [at best] the AVERAGE for American Blacks and "American" [illegal] Mestizo/Aboriginal Hispanics - HALF of them are even stupider than that.

Again, I'm not an expert in these matters, but I'd guess that a child with an IQ of 95 might be able to master these problems around the ninth grade [in a highly-disciplined environment], and a child with an IQ of 90 might be able to master these problems [in a highly-disciplined environment] sometime around the junior or senior year of high school [11th or 12th grade], but that would only be in a near-perfect situation.

In the real world, I wouldn't hold out much hope that a child with an IQ of 95 or 90 could ever master these problems, and the situation for children with IQs of 85 is manifestly hopeless.

al fin said...

Your children are not your children. They are the playthings of the gods who run university schools of education, and those who guide them--such as William Ayers, former weatherman mad bomber and Obama supporter.

The government schools are not yours to criticize or advise. They are the lordships of petty warlords and corrupt politicians--rich cash cows for the support of the rotted inner circles of your burroughs and townships.

Talking will not change a thing.

Concerned said...

All the comments on this thread are interesting. I esp. agree with the one about Germany. Our respect for sheer craftsmanship has gone down the tubes - to the detriment of the non-college oriented types. "Good with his hands" is a slur in the US.

"Also I'm a bit of a heretic in that I don't think elementary school matters very much. "

I agree. Ringo Starr missed 3 years of elementary schooling due to illness. He was tutored at home by a childhood friend, a girl a couple of years older than he, in the basics. He's no Einstein but to my knowledge he's basically literate. I'm sure his story is nothing unique.

Lucius Vorenus said...

headache: Germany is good example of dealing with sub-par kids.

Lynn and Vanhanen quote an average German IQ of 102.

Which means that "sub-par kids" in Germany have an IQ of "101.999", or lower.

By contrast, American Blacks and Mestizo/Aboriginal [aboriginal to Mexico] Hispanics have an average IQ of 85 [at best], so their "sub-par kids" have IQs of "84.999", or lower.

Now do you really think there is any hope that children with IQs in the low 80's, the 70's, and the 60's can become "Meistern" or "Facharbeitern"?

Here's another question: Do you know how a carpenter [or a brickmason] squares two walls?

Answer - via the "3-4-5" rule: They mark off the 3 foot mark on one wall, and the 4 foot mark on the other wall, and then they literally pull the two walls together until the distance between the two marks is 5 feet.

Of course, the longer the distance you measure, the more accurate the final result, so you'd like something a little longer than {3, 4, 5}.

Now anyone who has taken geometry & algebra knows that you can simply multiply a valid Pythagorean triple by an integer, e.g.

3^2 + 4^2 = 5^2
=> [2^2]*[3^2 + 4^2] = [2^2]*[5^2]
=> [(2*3)^2 + (2*4)^2] = (2*5)^2
=> 6^2 + 8^2 = 10^2

so that e.g. {6, 8, 10} is another triple you could use.

But I once worked with an older Caucasian carpenter [in his sixties at the time], who had been educated in that wonderful NYC school system of old, who didn't know that {6, 8, 10} was a valid Pythagorean triple.

And I once had to get out a calculator and "square" [really "parallelize"] the alignment of the molds for the concrete bulwarks [which would eventually hold the steel girders, after the concrete had been poured] for a DOT-standard bridge because the [Caucasian] contractor couldn't compute the square root of (x^2 + y^2).

Now for kids with IQs in the 115-120 range, these calculations are maybe a combination of 8th-grade algebra and 9th-grade geometry.

And for kids with IQs around 100, in a perfect learning environment, there might be some hope that they could master these concepts by the 11th & 12th grades.

But for kids with IQs down around 85, to the best of my knowledge, the situation is hopeless.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: The root cause is that there is no rational, free-market in education (apart from America's very succesful private schools that is).

It's not clear to me that concepts like "rationality" and "free-market economics" have much meaning to people with IQs down around 85.

For that matter [and buffoons like Joycelyn Elders notwithstanding], I doubt that concepts like "root causes" have much meaning to them, either.

Matt Parrott said...

I'm with Headache on this, relative to Germany. I believe one of the problems with the educational system is that the inmates run the asylum. Teachers and administrators are people who have been in the same institution since they were toddlers! They have a warped educentric worldview, one in which they perceive education to be one long path to a teaching position where people who are unfit for that role get cast off the wagon along the way.

They don't take technical and trade education seriously because students who are not on the college track are dead to them.

They're cognitive elitists who tend to prefer grooming their elitist minions. The spectre of being cognitively unfit for such a role is such a terrifying fate for them that they refuse to even imagine it.

One really neat thing about being among the ranks of the cognitive elite is that you can't have a retarded child. Whereas my child would only be retarded, their child qualifies for the "Autism" diagnosis, one which grants their previously retarded child mystical savant powers and entry into special programs.

William said...

There exists a 3-tiered education system here where kids who are not academic material are weeded out fairly early on (age 14-16) and sent on an artisan track.

The race agitation industry would not allow such tracks to exist in the United States, because they just know that the lower track students, those trained for vocations rather than college prep, would disproportionately be black and hispanic. Besides, if we did have them where would we get students for our colleges' Black and Chicano Studies programs?

Race prevents just about every major political issue in this country from being discussed honestly and dealt with appropriately: education, welfare reform, economics, mortgage regulation, crime and punishment, immigration, you name it.

It's absolutely true that discipline is one of the biggest problems in school these days, but do those of us who took mostly honors/advanced-level courses in high school remember a big discipline problem there? Students who are discipline problems usually are that because they have no motivation to learn, usually because they can't.

Anonymous said...

Two points in reply to comments:

I agree with testing99, as do we all, but to differing degrees: culture does matter. I think many of us here give it much less due than it deserves. I don't know why, but my theory is that we unthinkingly believe that within a country, such as our own, we are so different culturally and thus differences in life outcomes must be owed to I.Q. We aren't as different as we think, though. Expand beyond our country and look out of wedlock rates, abortion rates, etc. between countries and I.Q. has far less predictive power. On the other hand, this exercise does show I.Q. is extremely powerful for predicting a country's GDP.

Sleep,
I understand where you're coming from about elementary ed. My philosophy with my own children is to teach them things they'll absorb like a sponge and that won't be a struggle. The state will only let you go so far with this, though. Just a few minutes ago, my 7 year old daughter, who is highly gifted and doing third grade math, just needed reminding of what vowels and consonants were. It was too abstract for her to absorb and remember when she was learning to read. I remember spending about three days on that subject two years ago, but less than five minutes when she was ready was better.

JamesSmithButNoE said...

I agree that the Chomsky transcript is intersting, but here are the things that jump out at me:

CHOMSKY: I was sent to an experimental progressive school from infancy, before I was two, until about twelve years old, until high school, at which point I went into the academic, college-oriented school in the city ... The vague ideas I had at the time were to go to Palestine, perhaps to to a kibbutz, to try to become involved in efforts at Arab-Jewish cooperation within a socialist framework, opposed to the deeply antidemocratic concept of a Jewish state

What do you want to bet that those ten years of "experiemental progressive school(ing)" were basically leftist indoctrination?

Heck, you can go to a modern public schoola and get that.

Anonymous said...

Is the gruesome anti-white male nature of the academic world part of this,knocking down white boys to keep evrybody a little more equal?

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: The essential problem facing any education system: half the kids are below the median in educability.

Weird - Derbyshire just linked to a new Charles Murray piece making exactly the same point.

Ian Lewis said...

Testing99, you have got to start your own blog. Your comments are usually right on.

Tino said...

I have to agree with the comment, race isn't the only problem, it just makes things worse. Progressive ideology and the equlity assumption destroyed sweden's hard core and succesfull education system in the 70s, before immigration. The lower scores of the working class had a similar effect race does in the US.

The leftist parties latest attempt was to nationally abolish homework, in order to create equality (they don't accept innate differences, and assume upper income kidds have some sort of invisible advantage).

The public is much more sensible than the elite in this issue.

Joseph said...

WE have 300 million people in the USA. That means 150 MILLION below IQ=100. That means 200 MILLION give-or-take a few that are not college material. Not even at Podunk State.

The schools today are mainly interested in preparing the average college attendee. They have no idea what do do with the rest.

I don't think educators are so much charlatans as people terrified of the truth which they dare not speak.

Is it possible that, in the modern world, low IQ is an incurable disease? That an ugly caste system looms in our future? Even Steve Sailer does not wish to think about it.

Read "The Cognitive Age" By DAVID BROOKS as quoted by Steve and think deeply about its implications.

David said...

Chomsky makes the mistake that almost all very intelligent people make.

The clue to what the mistake is, lies in the following lines by Chomsky (see if you can glean it):

"there was a tremendous premium on personal creativity, not in the sense of slapping paints on paper, but doing the kind of work and thinking that you were interested in. Interests were encouraged and children were encouraged to pursue their interests. They worked jointly with others or by themselves"

Another clue: years ago, when working as an office manager for a rather brilliant Oncology Division Chief at x Clinic, I received from him only one set of instructions on how to do my job. Here are those instructions, in full and quoted verbatim:

"Just be creative. Just be free, and creative. You know - be creative, put together innovative procedures as you like, come up with ideas on how we can change things around here for the better." Then he scooted off, to leave me to my own devices forever.

The mistake? Assuming everyone is bursting with ideas - that is, with a mental kaleidoscope of innovative notions dying to be expressed, "interests" (that is, intellectual interests), and creativity. Uh, they aren't.

That assumption may not be a mistake when applied to very intelligent people, but 50% of the population is guaranteed to be dumber than average. And the average ain't great.

In school, what regular kid wants to "do the kind of work he is interested in," in the intellectual sense of "work"? The WORK he is interested in? What he is interested in is flirting with girls, making spitballs, listening to rap and joining a gang - can you really call that "the work he is interested in," in the honorific sense? I don't think so.

"Geeks" thrive under freedom. Dullards suffer.

Only the brights are bursting with ideas, innovations, and continuously evolving notions. Only they have intellectual interests. When they are told to "just be creative!" they do not feel at sea. Instead, they already know what do do.

Well, others do not. They must be told what to do. (I'm a bit brighter than a dullard, so I managed to get on at my job, with a good deal of pain.)

It isn't a matter of exceptional oppression or abuse. That's just the way these kids are.

In Chomsky's case, his comrades were evidently full of intellectual juice or gas. They didn't have to be told what to do.

Most people not only require ordering about, but they LIKE it - it reassures them, it makes them feel secure and warm and snuggly.

The left side of the Bell Curve needs rules, discipline, regimentation - all the things that made Chomsky unhappy. The right side needs the opposite.

Ultimately, it all DOES come down to IQ.

Last note: I require more freedom than my dullard co-workers, and chafe under average bosses. But under VERY bright bosses, I feel at sea. It's an indication of a person's IQ ranking.

Anonymous said...

BornAgainDemocrat,

I doubt that lack of video documentation is any real hindrance. Many schoolbusses contain cameras. In one highly publicized case, it showed black students beating and stomping a white girl. They simply claimed she made racist comments. (Ah, I hear you exclaiming--we'll put in microphones too! They'll just claim their victims whispered.)

And even in the best case, all you're doing is documenting why some people should be barred from attending school, which would never be allowed to happen to the extent it needs to.

Doug.

Anonymous said...


Is the gruesome anti-white male nature of the academic world part of this,knocking down white boys to keep evrybody a little more equal?


If it is, they screwed up, because you can't keep a good man down!

Anonymous said...

Stirner: More appalling is that the contemporary educrats *have* managed to identify a curriculum... some basic information on Project Follow Through and the Direct Instruction curriculum is here:
http://www.mathematicallycorrect.com/honestft.htm


From your link: Direct Instruction (DI), devised by Siegfried Engelmann in the early 1960's as he taught his own children, is defined by the researcher James Baumann: "The teacher, in a face to face, reasonably formal manner, tells, shows, models, demonstrates and teaches the skill to be learned. The key word is teacher, for it is the teacher who is in command."

That sounds like a pretty succinct description of what the folks out in flyover country call "Home Schooling".

BTW, how do you get "face to face" time if there are more than about two or three students in the classroom?

Niranjan Ramakrishnan said...

Interesting article, but based on a wobbly premise. As I see it, the crux of your argument lies in the following two sentences/paragraphs:

The essential problem facing any education system: half the kids are below the median in educability.

That's a tautology, so it has to be true. But, to our educrats, it's a damnable heresy.


You haven't defined 'educability', but what if we replaced a goal of 'educability' with 'talkability'? Don't more than 50% of children learn to talk? What about 'Toilet-trainability'? A guaranteed 50% failure rate? Ugh.

Perhaps your second paragraph above should be couched in less strident terms.

You might argue that you were being merely rhetorical, and that the median is more properly applied to specific measures, such as,
say, learning the multiplication tables. Since you say 'education system' and not 'black education system' or 'white education system', let me tell you this particular goal is not at all an unreasonable one. Growing up in India, the entire class of second or third graders had to memorize tables (up to the 12-times table -- and one generation before us, to the 16th). I can confidently say that among my classmates the number that knew their tables was in well above 50%, perhaps closer to 80.

To take a different (though equally empirical) example, what if we set a goal to reduce infant mortality in a population from 70% to 30%? I am not quoting specific numbers, but all I have to prove is that this percentage (a) can change and consequently (b) it is not stuck at 50%. Both of which have happened in several societies, even poor ones, and from different parts of the world.

Now if it is your point that children who don't meet the standards have to be kept back, that is a more valid argument, but not one this article emphasizes.

Anonymous said...

Joseph - your comment about 150 million being below average (IQ 100), that would be the case if America was white. But with so many vibrant newcomers and their offspring your estimate sounds optimistic.

The average is now almost certainly below IQ 100 and more than 150 million are likely to fall below that marker.

SFG said...

headache: interesting to hear from a German. I've always admired the Germans' building a strong economy while keeping their politicians out of the pockets of big business. Maybe all you guys needed was to get rid of the Junkers... and I think most of the iSteve crowd would appreciate the NDP ;)

I always had a sense that Germans had an above-average respect for physical craftsmanship, though. What you've done is de-proletarianize proletarian professions, it sounds like.

Anonymous said...

Niranjan Ramakrishnan You haven't defined 'educability'...

Anonymous: The average is now almost certainly below IQ 100 and more than 150 million are likely to fall below that marker.

I had three medium-sized [or lengthy-ish] posts that I submitted this morning, about the question of what can be reasonably expected from children with an IQ of 85 [the average for American blacks and American mestizo/aboriginal hispanics], but either the submissions were eaten up by the system, or else Steve Sailer chose not to post them.

Bottom line: With half of all children in the USA now belonging to these groups [of average IQ 85], and with children of IQ 85 [up to about IQ 90] being more or less completely uneducable, we are now starting with an implacable, immutable base of at least 25+% illiteracy and innumeracy in the USA.

Prepare for the worst.

Derek said...

I'm currently completing a Masters in Education and had it not been for people like Steve Sailer this degree would be akin to staring out a window for 13 months.

As many of you already imagine, education theory can be boiled down to "find whatever means necessary to produce equal results." Consequently, men like John Dewey have their words twisted and inflated until what was once a sensible proposal for education reform becomes egalitarian dogma used to support ridiculous methods.

The latest trend has been to replace all quantitative evaluation with things like portfolios and (I kid you not) photographs. This means taking candid shots of students engaged in learning as "proof" to parents that they're not just sitting on their asses all day wasting time.

Holistic or cooperative learning is a pretty way of saying "make evaluation as subjective as possible so that the black student who understands Maya Angelou is as smart as the white student who can read War and Peace without a dictionary."

Education theorists are also against the concept of "teaching to the test" yet that is precisely what they are doing when they drill students with items found on Raven's Progessive Matrices in the hopes that IQ scores will rise. Students become so filled with pattern recognition that they fail to learn anything of substance later on.

ogunsiron said...

Lucius :
I think you're vastly overestimating the difficulty of the tasks you listed. Students who don't have access to calculators and who master their times tables can do arithmetic just fine, especially on paper (mental arithmetic is another matter).

The subtraction, division, decimal division, fraction reduction stuff that you mentioned was all stuff that students , in the central african country i went to early school in , were supposed to master by the 6th or 7th grade. In order to graduate from primary school we pretty much had to show that we could do this stuff . I went to school with a mix of students. I had major dummies in my classes yet pretty much ANYONE in 6th grade would have been able to do that stuff . The only remotely challenging bit is maybe finding a common denominator . At worst, the dummy students took a lot of time to do those operations, but they could do them.

That stuff is only hard for students whose number sense was never developed at all, thanks to dumb teachers pushing calculator usage on 1st graders.
Word problems are what is most likely to challenge dumb students. Rote arithmetic can and is taught even to low IQ people.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, if these brown people are all so dumb and there is no hope of improving them, how come the mulatto children of black GIs and German women raised in Germany have test scores that are not significantly different than those of native Germans?

Anonymous said...

Anon - "if these brown people are all so dumb and there is no hope of improving them, how come the mulatto children of black GIs and German women raised in Germany have test scores that are not significantly different than those of native Germans?"

Source for that?

Anonymous said...

Ive been looking for that black-German study. Seems everybody knows all about it. Its a one off that hasnt been replicated.

Couple of points. First; the children were the offspring of blacks in the US military, so already the fathers had been selected for higher than average black IQ. Second; how black is black? Were these black GIs, as black as Seal? Obama? Rev Wright? Mariah Carey?!!

I suspect this study wasnt using children who were the product of straight 50/50 African/European pairings. So right there its not really saying quite what some would like it to.

poor richard said...

The gay Frenchman Michel Foucault made a very good rebuttal of Chomsky.

It goes something like this: Chomsky wants to remove hierarchy and power from society. He wants to remove force from society. Chomseky wants peaceful decentralized civil society anarchism.

Foucault says something like this: there is no such thing as a society without power. In fact, the modern West has to some extent replaced militarism with civil society. And in fact, that civil society is teeming with NEW covert or peaceful but no less manipulative forms of power.

Foucault says: the West has new institutionalized forms of soft power: institutions of education, the psychiatric establishment. We loathe to physically "touch" a person to discipline and restrain them. Instead, we "touch" them only with words. Psychobabble, educababble. And the effect is even deeper, people lose their freedom of conscience. We control not by restraining the body, but by entering and manipulating the mind with webs of passively coercive words.

It is on YouTube (surprisingly, Foucault speaks with force and clarity, not what you might expect from a dead gay Frenchman):

http://youtube.com/watch?v=hbUYsQR3Mes

Worth checking out, because Foucault is pointing out something deep about the modern West here. Something that goes to the heart of what many people feel as "liberal oppression" or loss of personal autonomy despite our ostensible political freedoms.

poor richard said...

A few more things to say on the Chomsky/Foucault debate, because it goes to the heart of the matter in a way I didn't anticipate.

We in the West have created a society where "power by touch" (physical coercion) is banned, prohibited, abhorred. Especially the liberal classes: whiterpeople. For a whiterperson to beat their child with a belt would be considered monstrous. When whiterpeople see people being tortured, shot, or even punched in the face, they are shocked and cannot imagine such inhuman treatment. Physical violence is absolutely verboten.

But what is de rigeur among whiterpeople - that is, the Western bourgeousie - is a kind of subtle mental indoctrination or the violence of words. If little Johnnie hits little Billy in the face, he will be subjected to endless talk, words about how his action was wrong and unthinkable. "Right thinking" adults will nearly dismiss whatever activity preceded Johnnie's act.

Look at schools. Teachers no longer may even slap bad students on the wrist with a ruler (this was once universal practice in all American schools). Hitting another kid is grounds for expulsion.

This tyranny of words and banning of touch extends to adult life. "Smart" kids should go, learn to work with numbers, and if they are "good enough," work for a big New York financial institution or some such. Touching one's work is verboten, that is for the non-whites and rednecks.

This is completely contrary to the sentiments of men like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. The domination of finance was considered absolutely anathema to Jefferson and many in his time. He thought an honest republic could exist by avoiding city life, and living in more or less self-sufficient farms in the country.

Bringing back the original point: use of verbal coercion in the educational and psychiatric/psychological discourse of adulthood. What is defined as "sane" and what is "insane." To be someone who works 120 hour weeks in the financial industry, this is sane and good. Perhaps in need of a little "work/life balance," but essentially productive and good. To save money and retire to a self sufficient farm in a rural area, as John Adams did? That is "crazy - isn't that what those crazy racists in the MidWest do?"

Also look at how psychiatric discourse is used to pathologize any potentially subversive ideas among non-elites. "Conspiracy" thinking is a perfect example. Question the official statement on a major historical/political event used to justify elite policies? Conspiracy theory, probably stupid or crazy (or both). Outside of yuppie circles, "conspiracy" thinking is not too uncommon. Jefferson warned against the corruption that comes with powerful banking elites, too. Was he a conspiracy theory nutter?

So the liberal elite uses a type of subtle verbal manipulation to exert power, and it is directed at very specific objects. Some of those objects are the founding ideals of this nation.

H. said...

As Steve himself has pointed out, blacks in the US military usually have IQs equal to whites in the US military. When they have children by intelligent German women, who pass on their IQ genes, and these children go through a nearly all-white school system, they would naturally have scores similar to white German children. This is obvious.

Anonymous said...

"...guys, if these brown people are all so dumb and there is no hope of improving them, how come the mulatto children of black GIs and German women raised in Germany have test scores that are not significantly different than those of native Germans?"

You must comb through the iq literature and grasp the crumbs till the melt in your hands.
I don't know. Are they really the same? I've wondered, because after all, they were tested in the aftermath of Nazi Germany, and super-PC politics was well in place. When was the study done? They are worth looking at again though, just to see what variables obtained. In any case, they are one small group when so many more numerous black groups have been studied all over the world. But the fact that the GIs were already selected for a certain level of intelligence, regardless of race, probably had an effect. Blacks in Canada, while lower than whites, were still considerably higher than blacks in the U.S., probably due to the fact that the smarter ones would have gotten there in the first place, and then made a living there. Even before large non-white immigration to Canada, black school children in Canada still scored lower on academic testing. While working at the Library of Congress, I remember reading a commissioner report from the 40s or 50s in which they were trying to figure out why, since the kids lived under the same SEC conditions as the white children....

Anonymous said...

, "how come the mulatto children of black GIs and German women raised in Germany have test scores that are not significantly different than those of native Germans"

Um, cuz the Army tests for IQ and won't admit the lowest scorers, so on average the black GIs' IQs are closer to the German average?

Anonymous said...

Another factor. I have heard this anecdotally said about Blacks in Canada. They are at least as black - racially - as American blacks. However, they are black faces in seas of white. Compared to American blacks, Canadian blacks are known as fine, functional, sharp.

What is the difference? No black community to drag them down. Do not underestimate the power of peer pressure to impose a collectively acceptable norm of behavior. Including academic failure.

Probably the same was true of the German mulattoes. They might not have been any less black, but they were undoubtedly surrounded by white Germans.

Look at Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas. They both look pretty darn African to me. Thomas went to a Catholic school, and Sowell went into the military. Maybe part of the problem is separating young blacks with potential from the black collective mentality.

Sideways said...

Niranjan Ramakrishnan:
You've missed the point. Things like reading levels are based on the average. Someone who reads at a 4th grade level reads like the average 4th grader. We then have programs like NCLB which say that all 4th graders have to read at least as well as the average 4th grader.

njn said...

Sideways,

I too understand averages, but that was not the point I made. When there is a broad-brush claim that 50% of the population is not 'educable', I was asking what it meant, because similar claims could be made for practically anything on the basis of an almighty Bell Curve. I gave some obvious examples to show why this was a cute but (in this case, at least) incorrect -- or imprecise -- conclusion.

I submitted another comment, which for some reason has not been published. The gist of it was that at least as far as arithmetical fluency is concerned, one was astounded by its lack amongst Americans of every hue as long as three decades ago. Spelling is a similar bugbear, even amongst middle-aged Americans (also of all colors). Like all things, numbers and words become friends of ours through close contact, and the electronic calculator and the spell-checker (and the TV, in all likelihood) bear far greater responsibility for their alienation, which the article rather facilely places on immigration and race.



Niranjan Ramakrishnan:
You've missed the point. Things like reading levels are based on the average. Someone who reads at a 4th grade level reads like the average 4th grader. We then have programs like NCLB which say that all 4th graders have to read at least as well as the average 4th grader.

Lucius Vorenus said...

ogunsiron: The subtraction, division, decimal division, fraction reduction stuff that you mentioned was all stuff that students , in the central african country i went to early school in , were supposed to master by the 6th or 7th grade.

Do you suppose that it is possible that your opinion could be tainted by the experience of having been part of a self-selecting statistic?

Which is to say: Have you considered that the very fact that you were in school in the first place might have meant that you & your classmates had an average IQ up around 100?

[I honestly don't know the answer to a question like that - how could I possibly know the answer? - but the the Lynn and Vanhanen numbers for "Central Africa", in the aggregate, are not very optimistic.]

ogunsiron: I think you're vastly overestimating the difficulty of the tasks you listed... At worst, the dummy students took a lot of time to do those operations, but they could do them.

Again, I am NOT an expert in the education of low-IQ students, so I don't know what can be expected, realistically, of a child with an IQ of 85.

Personally, I'd be pretty shocked if most such children could be forced to learn things like division into four or five digits.

For instance, I can see that IQ 85 children might be able learn

64 / 8 = ???

or maybe even

132 / 11 = ???

But somewhere around

1024 / 32 = ???

I imagine that they'd start zoning out, and their eyes would get that glassy look, and they'd get very fidgety.

But, again, I am NOT an expert in the education of low-IQ students.

ogunsiron: Word problems are what is most likely to challenge dumb students.

Yes, word problems are always what separates the men from the boys.

But if you are correct, and if the low-IQ students can master fairly complicated arithmetic algorithms [up to and including finding common denominators for fractions, finding reduced forms for fractions, the conversion of fractions to decimals, and the conversion of decimals to fractions], but if they can't apply those ideas to "word problems", then the obvious question becomes: What good was it to teach them the algorithms in the first place?

If you teach a parrot to say, "Polly wants a cracker", but if the parrot doesn't have any idea that the sounds which go into "Polly wants a cracker" are aural symbols of words [which, in turn, are symbols of ideas], then what good does it do the parrot to have learned how to say, "Polly wants a cracker"?

Similarly, if you can teach a child of IQ 85 about the Pythagorean theorem, but if, when the child grows up to become a brickmason, he can't remember [or can't summon the insight to realize] that he could use the Pythagorean theorem to square two walls which he is laying, then what good was it to have "taught" him the Pythagorean theorem in the first place?

[A little off topic, but my brother had a friend who was part of a crew which was laying the foundation for a major multi-million dollar sports stadium in this area, and they had to start over two or three times when pouring the concrete for the two ovals at the ends of the stadiums - each time, they couldn't get the two sets of ovals to line up correctly - and finally, on like the third try, they just said, "to Hell with it" and kept working around the problem.]

Lucius Vorenus said...

njn: I submitted another comment, which for some reason has not been published.

Yeah, this "blogger.com" software is eating up all sorts of comments.

Either that, or else Steve Sailer is rejecting them.

But with as many bugs as there are on the front end, and with the User Interface as sucky as it is, I can easily imagine that there are all sorts of problems on the backend which are causing comments to be lost.

As far as I'm concerned, Steve Sailer can't ditch this software package fast enough.