For some reason this morning I was thinking about education. The HBD blogosphere repeats ad nauseam that some people are more intelligent than others. Fine, true enough, but can’t we improve people’s mental performance? If you can get a person with an IQ of 80 to function as thought they had an IQ of 90, you have helped them- and society- a great deal.
Education is largely a matter of information and skills. Supposedly it’s also about “teaching you how to think” at the college level but that’s BS. Nobody really ever teaches you how to think. An example would be doing math in your head. Some people can do it, many can’t. Those who can understand math well enough to think through the problem without having to write it down. Maybe this is unteachable, maybe you could teach it to a few who haven’t figured it out themselves but could do it with prompting. Many people just can’t cope with abstractions. I think a lot of NAMs appear to be of normal intelligence, or even bright, but simply can’t deal with abstractions. Some guy who taught in Africa said something about this, you might be able to find this on www.chimpout.com.
Real education, like real physical training, has to happen on the individual level. A teacher for each student is not practical- although apparently some private schools have this- but a computer program could do this easily. Not just the “self-paced” learning of your, but something that evaluates how the student is thinking and adapts appropriately.
A society that applied the best scientific knowledge and modern techniques to training and educating its population would have a strong advantage. But it will never happen in America.
American society is fixed in the period when the New Deal political alliance was at its peak, the time period from the mid 30’s to the mid 60’s. Ideas that were accepted as true and right at that time are regarded as good, but anything that came later that contradicts them are vilified.
The educational system of the time was very brick and mortar. Schools and colleges needed to be built, teachers and professors, and of course numerous administrators, hired. The classrooms were then filled with eager students, to be taught on the lecture method. This works OK for the average student; the best student is bored, the worst student is frustrated and humiliated. But it works for most, and it has the effect of averaging people out. The best are discouraged from being too smart, the worst are pushed to achieve a minimal level of learning that will allow them to function.
The leveling effect is assisted by the social environment, which allows social democratic socialization and propaganda. The system is served, which is the important thing.
The educational system got a shock in the late 50’s, with the Russian launch of Sputnik. Immediately it was decided it must do better. If you read “Rocket Boys” by Homer Hickam, he relates how his high school immediately raised standards. That the system was concerned about the education of the children of a West Virginia coal mining town shows the best side of it; that it was committed to raising all boats, and believed in the potential of all its members.
Where it ran aground shortly after was on the education of blacks. Regarding the European gene pool as being fairly homogenous was a radical idea at one point- I need to write something on William Jennings Bryant- but it had the strength of being mostly true. The egalitarian learning institutions established in the 19th and early 20th centuries turned the children and grandchildren of illiterate peasants into scientists, engineers, accountants, and physicians. The children and grandchildren of slaves were mostly denied this opportunity; their great-grandchildren had the opportunity, but setting aside their one standard deviation lower IQs, they were not much in the mood to accept the discipline of the system, which while egalitarian was most definitely hierarchical and undemocratic.
In response to black anger, more progressive theories of education became popular, based on the theories of people as varied as John Dewey and Margaret Mead. Making the student happy and raising his self-esteem- now the affirmative Constitutional duty of the school systems of the US per Brown v. Board of Education- became the focus. A certain kind of self-esteem is produced by telling the child he is wonderful; modern children and blacks especially have loads of this kind of self-esteem. A rather more useful sort of self-esteem is produced by taking on a challenge, overcoming it and attaining the power to do useful work.
So we have a system that served one population well, did not serve another population well, was modified as a result, now serves neither well and has not been meaningfully changed or improved in at least 40 years. And the educational system just reflects what has been going on in law and government in general over the same period.
A society that can’t learn, change, and improve is going to decay and collapse. Nothing can change, nothing can improve because America is locked in the 60’s. I don’t think other societies are doing much better right now; China has many problems, India is still a medieval agricultural society, Brazil does not have the racial composition to achieve greatness and is poisoned with European socialism in any case. But the US is only going to get worse.
Some nation, or nations will choose to use science and rationality to improve its functioning and seize the future. The future belongs to them. The US is slowly ceasing to matter.