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A couple of interesting education articles.  One notes how schools are now moving heaven and earth to get minorities to graduate, mostly, by lowering standards and giving out grades.  As a consequence, we’ll have a bunch of highly credentialed but uneducated people, whose failures in business and on later certification exams will likely be blamed on racism, when these failure in fact arise from over-promotion.  Their earnings, life course, and success will depend on continued support at every stage.  Perhaps they still end up better off, after all, affirmative action is ubiquitous.  But they and the broader society are expending resources that might better be spent making money. Everyone would benefit by destigmitizing the lack of a college degree.  It means little to a great many “graduates.”  A related article notes how a great many entry-level jobs for which only a high school diploma is required are now populated by college graduates.  This is a huge waste of these people’s productive years.

In any society, only a smallish percentage of people should go to college.  It takes a minimum 115 IQ to benefit from a real college education, and, by definition, that excludes 85% of the population or more.  While a greater percentage than 15% are attending and graduating now, it’s only because pseudo-degrees from pseudo-universities have become more common, and vocational training masquerading as a college degree (such as “hotel and restaurant management” or “packaging”) has displaced real college education. A college degree is supposed to denote the acquisition of a broad critical thinking capacity, and, at a minimum, people should be learning physics, calculus, reading Shakespeare, learning a foreign language, learning how to write a 50 page paper, etc.  This experience rarely happens, particularly at state schools.

America was more productive when it had fewer college graduates and more factory jobs.  We’re at war with reality because of the liberal belief in equality and the mistaken, tabula rasa world view of Boasian anthropology.  We cannot engineer a more intelligent population (other than by eugenics); intelligence is distributed on a curve.  We can however unleash the productive potential of everyone by removing barriers to business, supporting domestic production (and abandoning the myth of a “knowledge economy”), allowing more IQ testing by employers (to prevent the use of a college degree as an overly expensive sorting mechanism), and, finally, by abandoning the preoccupation with equal outcomes that corrupts business and education.  Finally, we can invest more as a society in preparing energetic young men to work rather than struggling through differential equations.

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One of the funny things in life is that the liberal elite spends a lot of its time contemplating its genius, much in the manner of Aristotle’s Prime Mover.  And this takes the form chiefly of feeling superior to and contrasting itself with Red State America.  The usual basis of this feeling of superiority is a belief in its own greater wisdom and moral enlightenment, as evidenced by things like recycling, a belief in evolution and global warming, or the merits of “multiculturalism” and diversity.  But the religious belief in equality, on which much of their identity is based, is in fact beset by major evidentiary problems.  For instance, the persistent racial “achievement gap” on test and educational performance, which the media, politicians, and the like so earnestly spend time trying to correct. It must be racism, but this belies common sense, since so many teachers, administrators, and the like move heaven and earth to help minorities do well on these tests.

One dimension of the confusion on the racial achievement gap is a real ignorance of test results and the ways that making tests too easy, or too hard, can eliminate the gap, just as these changes eliminate the value of the test itself in identifying the range of ability.  The graph above by “La Griffe du Lion” illustrates this and is explained here.  (Hat tip to Steve Sailer, of course.)  This is actually pretty easy to understand when you think about it, yet facile references to this or that latest achievement-gap-creating test abound.

Innumeracy, I’ve found, is pretty extreme among the elite, which mostly consists of verbally talented media, legal, and educational personalities.  This is especially true at the second tier–community college professors, journalists in hinterland newspapers, congressmen.  Things like standard deviations or regressions or even basic concepts like a Gaussian distribution are all over their heads.  Math reminds them that they’re not as smart as they think, and when confronted, they usually stamp their feet and mutter something about “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  God forbid they drill down on methodology and make a mathematical argument.

I’m not sure being right always trumps being popular.  In the short to medium term, lies can persist quite a long time.  The Soviet Union, itself built on myths of equality, lasted some 70 years.  And education graduate programs are filled with propagandists, mediocrities, and committed leftists.  Then again, how many times can a school district try this or that latest fad, come up with the same result, and not have people wonder if this is just the way it is?  I mean, no one worries about the achievement gap in marathon running or NFL running backs or armed robbery.  In dark corners of the internet–places like La Griffe du Lion, Gene Expression, VDare, and Steve Sailer’s website–the basic foundations of reality on matters of group difference, what is lovingly called human biodiversity, are being settled in a way that any intellectually serious person would ascent to.  And there is evidence this is trickling into the mainstream media, such as David Brooks and Malcom Gladwell.

One possible collateral benefit of having Obama as president will be greater candor on matters of race among all groups. Perhaps we’re in the early stages of the national dialogue on which we’ve been too “cowardly” to proceed.  But like the Soviet Union’s glastnost and perestroyka, this may lead in directions unintended and unforseen by today’s ruling class.

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A Real Education Lesson

A rather forthright young lady at Harvard Law mistakenly thought the school was serious about its motto: Veritas.  She calmly and dispassionately explained her views on racial differences, genetics, and various related social problems.  She used no epithets or coarse language.  A member of the Black Law Students Association, and similar associations at other elite law schools, responded by literally trying to ruin her life, in part, by trying to get her federal judicial clerkship yanked.

This is utterly monstrous behavior by weak, thin-skinned, anti-intellectual, and evil people, whose feelings and belief structure is so incredibly fragile because it’s built on the very falsehoods which this young lady dared to challenge.  But oh how the school and its professors and its students congratulate themselves on their intellectual daring and cutting-edge beliefs.  Cutting edge 50 years ago perhaps.  Liberalism is now the official religion of elite America, it takes no courage to embrace, and anyone that dares to deviate from its premises on equality, race, nature versus nurture, and much else is responded to not with sound argument and evidence but Soviet-style attempts to ruin one’s life and livelihood.

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I recently completed Diversity: Invention of a Concept, by Peter Wood. This is the first of several book reviews I’ll be writing of books generously sent to me by my readers.

Diversity has become one of the defining ideals of our age, surpassing in certain respects our earlier commitments to formal equality, liberty, the rule of law, and merit. The diversity concept, unlike more exotic ideas such as multiculturalism, is important because it has spread outside the academy into the world of business and politics. Every mainstream institution from Hollywood and the art world to the education establishment and business trumpets its commitment to diversity. Yet diversity has undergone little criticism. Unlike affirmative action, which was earlier justified as a form of reparations for white injustice to blacks, diversity is a “feel good” idea that purports to benefit everyone, even members of the majority. Minorities advantaged by affirmative action obviously benefit by receiving positions and admissions they would otherwise not receive. But privileged groups also benefit according to diversity’s partisans because they are now exposed beneficially to different perspectives, ideas, and cultures.

Earlier works such as Dinesh D’Souza’s End of Racism (1995) and Alan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind (1987) dealt with narrower issues: the continuing social problems facing black Americans and the decline of standards in the academy respectively. Both of these works were authored in an age when diversity was less accepted as an aspirational ideal than it is at present. Wood’s contribution is unique. . . .

(more…)

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