We don't need no education

June 5, 2008

It was perhaps short-sighted of Bill Rammell to condemn so emphatically Bruce Charlton's suggestions that children from higher social classes have a higher IQ than those from lower social classes.

After all, if IQ screening can so reliably allocate teenagers to good universities, we wouldn't need the vast expense of a public examination system, examiners, moderators and so on. Even that might turn out be a modest saving: if it really is the case that IQ, heritability and social class combine in such predictable ways, then teachers and schools themselves look to be a colossal waste of money. Far better to rely on an IQ test and to derive some secure predictions about the potential of children from different social backgrounds than to waste vast amounts of public money on efforts to improve attainment, raise aspirations and create opportunities.

At this scale, the cost savings would be immense; so great, in fact, that they might enable the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills to fund some decent research methods training for evolutionary psychiatrists who appear unable to distinguish between causation and correlation and the nature of "averages".

Chris Husbands, Dean, faculty of culture and pedagogy, Institute of Education, University of London.

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