Skip to comments.Britain: Middle-class children have better genes, says former schools chief
Posted on 05/12/2009 4:04:03 PM PDT by GOPGuide
Middle-class children are more likely to be clever than those from poorer families because they have 'better genes', former Ofsted chief Chris Woodhead said yesterday.
The comments caused an immediate storm, with critics calling them insulting and 'crazy'.
However, Mr Woodhead won support in some quarters - including the backing of an evolutionary psychologist, who said research had shown there was a link between class and average IQ.
Mr Woodhead called for a return to selection by ability at 11.
He suggested that grammar school pupils were more likely to be middle-class because 'the genes are likely to be better if your parents are teachers, academics, lawyers, whatever, and the nurture is likely to be better'.
In an interview with the Guardian, he argued that Labour had betrayed a generation by refusing to accept that some children were not suited to formal secondary education
The Government had tried to make education 'accessible' rather than ' rigorous', he said.
Ministers should accept that some youngsters are simply born 'not very bright' and allow them to pursue practical training instead of forcing them into the classroom.
'I've taught, and I can still remember trying to interest children who had no interest whatsoever in English,' he said. 'They didn't want to be in the classroom.
'If I'm honest I didn't want them to be there either - because they were disruptive to children who did want to learn. What was the point?'
However, there was support from Dr Bruce Charlton, an expert in evolutionary psychiatry from Newcastle University.
'Chris Woodhead is basically correct, and there's nothing new about it,' he said.
Dr Charlton insisted that intelligence was 'mostly inherited', adding that family background and education 'probably makes a small difference but nothing like as much as people think'.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
The truth hurts.
I’m sure this will only encourage even greater importation of masses of impoverished Pakistanis.
I don’t believe it. They just want to set the groundwork to abort more babies.
The only exception is Moslems who have an intermarriage problem.
And Shakespeare didn't write those plays either, the dirty commoner; had to be British nobility that wrote it on the sly.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
...well, I was intending to be classist as well.
Did it ever occur to anyone that it could it be that the people with the *better genes* were more likely to become middle or upper class?
...and then the upper-class kids have to go and spoil it.
The smarter you are, the more likely you are to be successful. And then, if you weren't born into a middle class or upper class family, you're children were. And you'll pass your genes on to them.
So over time, the genes that lead to higher intelligence become more concentrated among wealthier people.
It's not an absolute rule that applies in every case - but in general, it is true.
For a period of a few decades, England and Wales had an education system that selected children on the basis of academic intelligence and sent them to schools based on that test - Grammar Schools, Secondary Moderns, and Technical Schools. During that period, these schools created a significant amount of social mobility for many people. So it sped up the concentration process over a couple of generations. The system was more or less abandoned because it was very politically correct - but it had a real impact while it was in place.
Not only the education system, but hereditary aristocracy also allowed the upper classes to marry those with the best combination of genes.
Btw, doesn’t Germany have a similar education system to the old British system?
Germany does have a selective system, but one primarily based on teacher recommendation not on testing.
Germany does have a selective system, but one primarily based on teacher recommendation not on testing.
Thomas Sowell gives a very good analysis of why intelligence is cultural rather than hereditary. If you are old enough (or have relatives old enough), I’m sure you’ve heard jokes about dumb Polish and Italian people. Why were those ethnic groups singled out? Because in standardized intelligence tests given around WW1, they had substandard IQs, not all that different than what’s found in the current underclass. By WW2, though, the IQs of people of Polish ancestry, for example, had become above average. Did their genes changes? Of course not. But their culture did. They’d become assimilated into American culture.
Similarly, Carribean blacks in the United States have incomes above the white average and often do quite well, even though their ancestry isn’t that different from the ancestry of American blacks. What’s different? They come from a culture that was more strongly influenced by British culture and tend to be more likely to be married and middle class. Further, I’ve even had a woman from a poor Jamaican family tell me that she did well in school in the Bronx because she didn’t want to be like the American blacks. Again, culture, not genes, is at work there.
The problem we have today is that the perpetual American underclasses have cultures hostile to formal education and the types of thinking that are critical to a high IQ score. Those cultures are what makes them lower class and what keeps them lower class. People who rise into the middle class develop a different culture, and their children benefit from it. The best way to get out of the underclass is to do what those Polish and Italian immigrants did a century ago, to realize that perhaps it’s too late for the adults but that their children shouldn’t follow in the footsteps of their parents but try to be better. They saved so that their children could go to college. They send their kids to American schools and, in some cases, even hit them if they didn’t speak English at home. That’s the way out. Multiculturalism is the trap that keeps people down. Drop that and race and “genes” won’t matter for today’s poor any more than they mattered for the white underclass of a century ago.
And, frankly, all the cheering of claims that IQ is based on race does is feed the perception that conservatives are racist. It’s not true. It’s not helpful. It hurts the cause.
Man, is this guy in trouble.
Guys got a point...
Well said, think the same way but have trouble expressing it in just that manner!:)
While I agree that there is a seriously unhelpful focus on whether or not there are IQ differences between races (and the evidence is that there are not significant differences) a large proportion of intelligence is definitely hereditary. The twin studies show that extremely clearly.
Background and culture makes a difference - the same studies also show clear effects based on nurture as opposed to nature - but there are genetic differences as well.
We need to do our best to ensure that nobody is disadvantaged educationally because of their background - but we also need to accept that even if we were 100% successful in doing that - in completely eliminating cultural factors that lead to educational disadvantage - that we’re still not going to have a level playing field, and we shouldn’t expect to. Massive damage is done to education when we pretend that there aren’t real innate differences between students.
If 50% of kids from middle class backgrounds are getting the results they need to go on to higher education and only 20% of kids from poorer backgrounds are, then you’re probably dealing with cultural problems over and above anything else. But even if you completely eliminate those problems, you’re probably still going to find it’s 50% verus 40% or something similar, because cultural differences aren’t everything that’s involved. Some of it is innate.
Ah, the dreaded straw man. Have fun skipping down the Yellow Brick Road with him, Dorothy. I never claimed that the only difference was culture, just the differences in intelligence and educational achievement.
When you are ready to talk about behavior rather than appearance, please let me know, unless you are ready to tell me how nose shape, eye shape, and hair textures affect performance in school. Perhaps you want to argue that pencils get caught in curly year and broad noses make it hard to look down and read textbooks? And I suppose epicanthic make kids read better since Asian kids with them tend to blow even white kids away in school, unless of course they're Americanized. Oh, wait, there's that pesky culture thing again.
I'd also like you to explain how all of those "races" such as the Irish, Italians, Poles, and Russians who were once considered less than white and stupid, inferior, and undesirable immigrants by many of the Germanic Protestant whites already in the US at the time managed to evolve 10-15 points of IQ in a generation or two if you think evolution is at play with intelligence. Perhaps you are a fan of Lamarckian evolution?
The thing is - why has this article been written? More accurately, why has the man that made the statements that inspired it, said what he said.
In simple terms, he's calling for the reintroduction of the 11-plus test that used to be used in Britain to test children at the age of 11 and determine what type of secondary school they went to. The 11-plus wasn't based on the idea that heredity was inescapable - all children in state education were tested regardless of their race and social class and were sent to the school that their test results indicated would meet their needs. It wasn't a perfect system, because the 11-plus was not a perfect test - but it still made a huge difference to a lot of kids. Including a lot of bright working class kids who got an education - one prominent example being Sir John Major (Baroness Thatcher got a similar opportunity before the 11-plus was introduced). Gordon Brown also received a selective education.
For 20-30 years (1944-1965 or 1975) depending on which dates you use, England and Wales had an education system that acknowledged intelligent students needed an education system aimed at them to flourish, rather than an education aimed at the theoretical average child. The system wasn't perfect, but it created a great deal of educational opportunity that wasn't otherwise available, and it was most especially useful in helping poorer children whose parents didn't have the option of independent schools. The system does still survive in a few small areas of the country and it still works but it's under constant political pressure from the Left to shut it down.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with putting kids into tracks based on their ability or even with suggesting those without real academic talent should learn a trade rather than esoteric knowledge to prep them for college. But bringing class and or race into the discussion and implying that either of those things determines who a student will do is going to turn it into a very different discussion.
Shakespeare was also born into the middle-class....
Same justification, same mindset.
If one is poor due to never being given a chance, then it is societies fault.
But if one is poor because of inherent unworth; then no chance need ever be extended to them and society is absolved of any guilt.
Well, the chief conspiracy theory is that Christopher Marlowe wrote the plays, but even he had a similar social background to Shakespeare. Shakespeare was the son of a glovemaker and Marlowe was the son of a shoemaker and both went to grammar schools, which was a definate sign of middle-classness for the times......
That system was hugely flawed in that it had the potential to decide someone’s future based on one exam that they took at the age of 11.
My dad failed it, but he eventually got a Phd (made more difficult due to his reduced access to decent educational facilities) and is now at the top of his profession.
The comprehensive system that has replaced grammar schools is actually a lot better when it works, because kids are able to move up or down the sets based on their current performance instead of being stuck in a poorly-funded secondary modern whilst most of the resources are concentrated on the kids who were fortunate enough to have come through on that one day when they sat the 11+ at the end of primary school....
This is well known to anyone familiar with twin studies. Sandra Scarr, after conducting the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study: “Within the range of ‘humane environments,’variations in family socioeconomic characteristics and in child-rearing practices have little or no effect on IQ measured in adolescence.” P. 476
“There is simply no good evidence that social environmental factors have a large effect on IQ, particularly in adolescence and beyond, except in cases of extreme environmental deprivation.” P. 476
Recent study discussed in New Scientist:
It is clear that intelligence is at least partly genetically determined. This was supported by the discovery in 2001 that the volume of the brain’s grey matter, made up of “processor” cells, is heritable and correlates with certain elements of IQ (Nature Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1038/nn758). The amount of white matter, which provides the connections between these processors, has since been shown to be heritable too (Journal of Neuroscience, vol 26, p 10235).
Now it seems that the quality of these connections, which is governed by the integrity of the protective myelin sheath that encases them, is also largely genetic, and correlates with IQ.
Paul Thompson and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, scanned the brains of 23 sets of identical twins and the same number of fraternal twins, using a type of magnetic resonance imaging called HARDI. MRI scans typically show the volumes of different tissues in the brain by measuring the amount of water present. HARDI measures the amount of water that is diffusing through white matter, a measure of the integrity of myelin sheathing, and therefore the speed of nerve impulses. “It’s like a picture of your mental speed,” says Thompson.
The flaws are seriously exagerated. The 11 Plus wasn't a perfect test, but it was a good one. Over 90% of the results it obtained were accurate. It was unfortunate, certainly, for the 10% of students who were misidentified, such as your father apparently, but the current system has far more 'wastage'.
With modern updated testing the accuracy rate would be closer to, if not over, 95%. Also, there should be opportunities for teachers to point out when they don't think a test result accurately reflects the child's capability. You'd also be better off if testing occurred at 13 rather than 11 - but practically speaking the structure of British schooling would make that far more awkward.
The comprehensive system certainly can work - but it doesn't for far more students than were failed and misidentified by the tripartite system. Setting does not occur in the majority of English comprehensive schools - the majority of schools use no ability grouping techniques of any sort. Yes, when it exists it can work well. The current British government has made efforts to increase access to ability grouping, but it's still not the norm (although it is more common than in most countries).
And, yes, under the tripartite secondary moderns were often underresourced which should never have been allowed to happen - just as there shouldn't be sink schools today. The failures of the past shouldn't be repeated in any future system, that goes without saying, but they don't need to be.
I have a MEd (Gifted Education) and have made considerable study of these issues as well as being highly opinionated about them :) I'm actually not a major supporter of selective education - I believe acceleration is the best way to educated bright children - but selective education does work a lot better than comprehensive when both are working as designed - 'good' comprehensive can beat 'bad' selective, of course, which complicates things - and if all of England had good comprehensive education that might be a really important point in its favour - but the evidence that comprehensive schools are failing more kids than the tripartite system ever did.
There’s a very good article here by Steven Pinker in the NY Times discussing the role of genes.
Note that in terms of averages there are differences, although it doesn’t imply much about individuals.
Rushton, J. P., & Jensen, A. R. (2005). Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 235-294.
The problem is that race is currently so tightly tied to race in the United States and even throughout the world when it comes to people of African ancestry that it’s difficult to do an “all other things being equal” comparison. But Sowell’s point is that where we do look at groups that were once culturally distinct (e.g., Poles) and now are not culturally distinct, their IQ levels can raise substantially in a generation or two. There are other cases where you can see the average IQ going up or down 10-20 points in a population where the genetic background hasn’t changed.
In my previous reply, “race tied to race” should read “culture tied to race”
In terms of all things being equal, adoption studies provide some insight. At least three big studies now show us that unrelated children raised in the same household, as well as parents and their adoptive children, differ in IQ as much as any two strangers randomly picked from the general population. There are IQ similarities in biological families, but we find that once genes are accounted for, there is no residual left to explain. One longitudinal study, the only one of its kind, of black children raised in white homes, showed that by highschool these adoptees scored no differently on IQ tests than African-Americans raised by their biological parents. The same applies for Chinese or Korean adoptees.
“Contrary to “culture” theory, the ethnic academic gaps are almost identical for transracially adopted children, and to the extent they are different they go in the opposite direction predicted by culture theory.The gap between whites and Asians fluctuated from 19 to .09 in the NAEP data while the gap in the adoption data is from 1/3 to 3 times larger. This is consistent with the Sue and Okazaki paper above which showed that contrary to popular anecdotes, the values that lead to higher academic grades are actually found more often in white homes. In other words Asian-Americans perform highly despite their Asian home cultural environment not because of it.
There are several issues that are not addressed in those studies, among them is that the circumstances in which Asian children are adopted by a white family is often very different from the circumstances in which black children are adopted by a white family. Another is raised by a link within your link to the book “The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do”, that a child’s peers have more of an influence on them than their parents. Remember, I said “culture”, not “parents”. A black child adopted by white parents who identifies with black peers with black parents will be exposed to the prevailing culture of those black peers and because of the prevailing attitude to race that makes people see people like Barack Obama and Halle Berry as “black” and because they see themselves as “black”, the cultural influence is not clear cut.
Please note that I acknowledge that intelligence has some heritability. As I’ve mentioned, separated twin studies suggest that even such things as political views may be influenced by genes. But in all cases, it’s an influence that’s not a 100% correlation. It’s nature AND nurture. And when the nurture is largely detrimental, you can’t get a valid sense of what the nature component really is. And given that intelligence within a population can still vary so greatly, even if the curve is shifted up or down, that it’s more constructive to look at individuals as individuals rather than getting caught up in an assessment based on race or ethnicity. We’d all be a lot better off if people worried about merit rather than appearance.
Sowell is wrong on the science.
IQ is 75% genetic.
An inherited trait like intelligence or height needs a sufficient environment in which to achieve that maximum. For example, Japanese are stereotypically considered short, yet many young Japanese are significantly taller than their parents. Did their genes change? Of course not, even though genetics play a large role in height. Their diet did. The Japanese diet became richer in protein and calories so that young Japanese are now more likely to reach their maximum potential where they once did not.
The Flynn effect is not measuring an increase in “g”.
The effect is measuring something other than intelligence, what it is measuring isn’t known but real IQ gains are not it.
Looks like it’s talking about IQ to me. What’s “real IQ” and why isn’t the Flynn Effect measuring it?
Research shows that IQ gains have been mixed for different countries. In general, countries have seen generational increases between 5 and 25 points. The largest gains appear to occur on tests that measure fluid intelligence (Gf) rather than crystallized intelligence (Gc).
What makes you think they aren't talking about IQ and general intelligence?
Please note that if you want to argue that Flynn is not really talking about IQ and general intelligence and believe Flynn that, “IQ tests do not measure intelligence but rather correlate with a weak causal link to intelligence,” that then begs the question of how one can reliably measure the IQ or general intelligence of anyone if IQ tests are an unreliable measure.
The increases are NOT on real IQ.
And psychologists can tell the difference between fluid g and crystalized g because of more sophisticated tests.
If a mother and father each have an IQ of 75, it isn’t likely that their kids will have IQs of 150.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.