From SchoolsWeek in the UK:
Sophie Scott | Sep 13, 2015
An academic researcher has suggested that academic achievement “gaps” between different groups of pupils cannot be closed as differences in intelligence cannot be “erased”.
Dr Stuart Ritchie (pictured), from the University of Edinburgh, presented research describing the genetic link to IQ, a measure of intelligence, and its controversies in education.
Ritchie has a new primer on IQ out: Intelligence: All That Matters.
Speaking to Schools Week after Saturday’s event, Dr Ritchie said teachers should not dismiss IQ tests.
“There is a very strong correlation between IQ and certain factors, such as mortality. Research with more than one million subjects shows this is not just a coincidence. It is strong evidence.
“Research shows that education can improve intelligence. But you cannot get away from the fact that is a genetic [intelligence] trait.
“There are various aspects of the environment that can improve intelligence – malnourished kids get poorer scores – but that is not as much of a problem in the UK.”
One delegate on Saturday asked Dr Ritchie: “If [achievement] difference is so genetic what does that mean for attempts to close the gap between pupils with disadvantaged and less advantaged backgrounds?”
He responded: “It means it is much more difficult than people assume.”
Dr Ritchie explained that while there is some evidence that environments can impact intelligence, most research suggested that education could lift all people’s intelligence, but not even it out.
“But maybe making everyone equal is not what we are looking for. Maybe we are looking for bringing everyone up, and everyone doing the best they can do, rather than only bringing up those at the lower end.”
Another audience member asked why [they] should be a teacher if the result “has nothing to do with [them]”.
Previous academic studies found that schooling could increase the average (mean) intelligence across cohorts, Dr Ritchie said.
“You could theoretically increase everyone’s intelligence, though the heritability levels stays the same. So you could think about raising people’s mean intelligence and not erasing the difference. So it is less likely that we can equalise intelligence — and not everyone even wants to do that — but it is much more likely we can raise mean intelligence than erase differences.”
In 2010 in VDARE, I proposed:
So what goal do I propose instead of Closing The Gap?
My goal, instead, would be to raise the average performance of all racial groups by half a standard deviation.
In other words, both goals are intended to improve the national average by half a standard deviation—but the Gates-Obama-Bush-Kennedy consensus wants to do it entirely by raising the scores of the minority half.
Which objective sounds more achievable?
Mine, obviously, for two reasons:
- Diminishing marginal returns: a one standard deviation improvement is not merely twice as hard to accomplish as a half-standard deviation performance, it’s much harder.
- Real improvements tend to better everybody’s performance. For example, I can drive a golf ball farther off the tee than I could 15 years ago because driver technology has significantly improved. (Clubheads are approaching the size of toasters, so you can now take a wild swipe at the ball without fear of whiffing). But then, Phil Mickelson can also hit the ball farther, too. So the pro-hacker gap in driving distance hasn`t closed.
In summary: my aim is both more achievable, more fair, and more sensible than the Gates-Obama-Bush-Kennedy consensus.
In the criminal justice world, Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to Close the Gap:
“If by some feat of magic we returned to 1970 levels of incarceration, it’s not enough for me to see those levels reduced but still see a 5-to-1, 6-to-1, 7-to-1 black-to-white incarceration ratio. How do you get to a place where the black-to-white incarceration ratio is 1-to-1?”
Fortunately, after decades of listening to TNC’s intellectual forebears, which led both to more crime and perhaps slightly worse Gaps, the country finally turned back to guys like Bill Bratton who didn’t care that much about Closing the Gap, he just cared about cutting the crime rate.
And guess what: by focusing on what could actually be done, crime has been cut.
What education needs are some Bill Bratton types who don’t care about Closing the Gap but care about everybody learning more. Instead, education is filled with TNCs.