Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Another angle on our current debate

Following on from my 'Are rich people more intelligent?' and 'And it's not just about qualifications' posts, here's an interesting piece from today's Guardian about black pupils at Oxbridge. The background of the two lads profiled for the piece seems to bear out what I, and some others, have already said. (A black girl from my sixth form college went to Oxford - she ended up presenting Blue Peter. Or I assume she went to my sixth form; her sister certainly did. Vicky Lickorish was her name.)

I was told an interesting statistic the other week. One third of all black boys who go to university go to one university, London Metropolitan in North London. Shocking really. Wonder why that is?

I get a feeling of foreboding as I post this... How many comments am I going to have to delete?


Andy said...

Umm you were "told" an interesting statistic .. did you verify it - twice as good statistical analysts are taught to do - probably not because it suited your warped view of the world ..

Kerry said...

I was told it by someone who knows, who is in a position to know, and would not have said it in the context that he did were he not confident that he knew.

I would suggest that it's only your warped view of the world which leads you to question its veracity.

DaveA said...

I don't know whether this will get past moderation, but here we go. I too believe in the Out Of Africa theory and hence Africans have a 200,000 years start on us development wise. As the population grew people were pushed to the margins of the earth and life especially during the ice ages was harsh. Africa is mostly either side of the equator and has a far more consistent climate, seasons and light/dark. Food is generally available all the year round. Unlike northern Europe even today, the settlers had to invent warm clothing, shoes, better shelters. For 3-6 months of the year hunting was virtually impossible and to survive they had to plan ahead, make sure enough food was stored to eat during the winter months. We also led the way on farming and getting away from hunter gathering, which is far more efficient way of providing ample food.

It is this vital logic and problem solving that has given us a massive edge technology and scientific wise over the last 2-5,000 years. Africa has never developed its own written language for example. Most people who have lived in Africa tell me they "live for the day" and have little thought of "tomorrow" or the "day after, while we are slavish to our diaries. I read Mark Liddle in the Sunday Times on "Diversity Courses" and one of the things that is pressed home is that Africans do not have planning skills and these are courses that are sympathetic.

It has also occured to me that because northern Europe was so sparcely populated families could not rely upon their immediate genetic relatives to survive and were forced to co-operate with other families for hunting and farming. The modern equivalents are Facebook and LinkedIn, while Africa is riddled with nepotism as their family are the only ones who they can trust.

Also another feature of western liberal democracy is the "social democrat." Whereby capitalism is viewed largely as the best means of creating wealth, but a strong vein of looking after the less fortunate. Obviously the precise details in the UK differ from party to party but even the Tories have never really tried to dismantle the welfare state and the NHS. Few Tories want to see people starving in streets for example. This again I believe was born out of the unforgiving harsh climate where illness, injury and death was just round the corner. The first poor law I can think of Historically is 1603, predating modern politics.

Africa is riddled with corruption and one leader after another shows little or no compassion for his fellow man. It has been estimated by Niall Ferguson the historian that 50% of the aid ($500 billion) given between 1955 and 1995 is in Swiss Bank Accounts. While we have debates about are enough working class people getting a fair crack of the whip at Oxbridge.

Sorry for this post to be so long, but in a word the reason that so few black people go to Oxbridge is anthropology, geography and culure. Not genetics.

aproposofwhat said...


As one of the last of the direct grant pupils (a fine system destroyed by Shirley Williams, who has my eternal disdain for her actions), I know that there is no connection between wealth and intelligence.

My grandfather had a scholarship to grammar school, but had to go down the pit at 12 years old, because the family needed the income. His generation of young bright Welshmen were blighted by poverty and the consequent lack of opportunity.

No doubt the same situation obtains with young black Britons today - when will we wake up and bring back selective education to give these kids a chance?

Loved the 'intelligent parents are all lefities' wind up, by the way ;o)

timbone said...

Although this is not about Universities, it is about another discipline. I spent several years invlolved with the Brass Band movement, which, although not as large as it once was, is still pretty big. Most of my published music is for this ensemble, and I will be playing with a band this Sunday for the Tameside contest, over thirty local bands competing in four sections, that is more than seven hundred and fifty local musicians. This is a smaller contest. Butlins Skegness is taken over by Brass Bands for a weekend in January.

I hope you have not been bored and got this far, because here is the link to the discussion. I have been all over the UK to contests large and small, many times, seeing many thousands of bandsmen and women. I can only recollect having seen three who were black.

Don't get me wrong, some of the greatest musicians in the world are black, and as for the British style brass band, you can go on youtube and find them in Africa.

timbone said...

@ aproposofwhat

Ah Shirley Williams. We still have selective secondary education in Trafford. As Education Minister, Shirley compelled remaining authorities with selection to go Comprehensive in 1979, the plans were in place, then there was the General Election...
By the way, I taught in a Boys Secondary Modern and couldn't wait to get into a Mixed Comprehensive.

Bring back selective education? Back to most University Students being Middle Class, and where would the Factory Fodder from the Secondary Modern Schools work?

On the subject of Welsh Miners. Glancing back at my first comment. Nicholas and Robert Childs were from a Welsh Mining community. Robert went to play with Grimethorpe Colliery band in Yorkshire (Grimley in the film Brassed Off). He is now back in Wales, Dr Robert Childs, Head of Brass Studies at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, and conductor of the world famous Cory Band. Dr Nicholas Childs conducts the world famous Black Dyke Band in Yorkshire and runs a recording company.

Working class lads whose dad was a miner.

marksany said...

I was at Loughborough Uni in 1980s. There were plenty of black boys there, but they were all from sub-saharan Africa, and very well they did too.

I think in a few years time you will see lots of young black men from the new immigrant influx from Nigeria and Ghana doing well at Uni, as they are doing well now at school. My son has lots of African recent immigrants in his classes at school. They work hard, succeed and they get on well with kids of other backgrounds. They have strong family backgrounds with mums and dads both working, often self-employed or professional.

There seems to be a culture among black young men of caribbean descent that does not believe education is for them. They are not unintelligent - I think your use of intelligence is bogus, it is about aspiration and belief.

Maybe it's a class thing, not a colour thing. It sure isn't biology.

Anonymous said...

"Just five out of more than 3,000 students admitted to Oxford in October last year were black Caribbean, and 24 black African. The equivalent figures at Cambridge are eight and 20."

These figures are a national disgrace.

bevanite said...

If that strange logic is right then how do we explain the reluctance of these African countries to adopt "civilised" western approaches even after many were colonised? Did we not impose our enduring democratic values on them? An antithetical statement I know.

I agree the politics of many African countries leave a lot to be desired, yet this generalization and professed superiority which cannot apply to second and third generation immigrants isn't the answer. Look to the White house for one of the greatest social democrats of recent times.

Finally on a slightly self indulgent point, the Tories opposed the introduction of the NHS at every reading of the bill in 1946. History I know but it's hard to let that pass considering my namesake on here.

adamskirving said...

The majority of the UK's black population lives in London. London Metropolitan is a huge university in terms of student numbers, and is the type of university that has a big intake of Local Students. So why the shock?

This might have been a shocking statistic in the days when students got full grants and would choose to go to non local universities, but in todays climate it is what one would expect.

aproposofwhat said...

timbone - I'm thinking of nipping back up for the Whit walks - I love brass, and supping a few pints while watching some of the country's best musicians is a pleasure denied to us in the benighted South.

We'll just have to differ on selective education, though - some folks are academic, some are better off with basic literacy and numeracy and a trade. There's always the OU (thanks to Harold Wilson) for those who flower later in life - my mother got one whole O-level at school, and after an OU degree ended up teaching maths while bringing five of us up.

Give us a blast of Castell Coch next time you're in, please :o)

timbone said...

aproposofwhat - here are a couple to be going on with from my own youtube channel. Not "Castell Coch" I'm afraid.



DaveA said...


Monkeys and apes in the evening sleep up in the trees, it is thought mainly to avoid predators and insects. Apes have been around for 30 million years and Anthropologists believe this behaviour has lasted this long. Why are the bedrooms in human homes usually upstairs?

Europeans have been at best in Africa for 500 years and is literally a second in evolution. It is far too early to change the culture.

The cheap shot on Obama is that his mother is white.

Kerry said...

But it was his father who had the Masters degree from Harvard...

Anonymous said...

And his son has a doctorate from Harvard.

There's something of the hereditary principle about elite universities and the opportunities they afford isn't there?

Kerry said...

I wonder with the Oxbridge figures how many are British and how many are overseas students?

The Grim Reaper said...

Isn't it obvious, Kerry? The reason a lot of black people go to one university in London is because a lot of them happen to live in big cities such as London. Let's face it, not many black faces down in places like Cornwall, are there? It's not a conspiracy, you know.

Kerry said...

How many unis are there in London? Why that one?