Friday, 20 March 2009

Are rich people more intelligent?

Getting into a mini-debate with people (Tories, Chris Hutt) on Twitter about widening access to uni. If 50% or more of kids from private schools have always gone to uni, why shouldn't 50% of all kids aspire to do so? Some people (OK, Chris Hutt) are arguing that doesn't compute, that rich kids will be on average smarter than poorer kids, because intelligence is hereditary and people who are intelligent are more likely to be rich. By rich I think they mean middle-class, whereas I mean 'able to pay private school fees' - and yes, I know some people on fairly modest incomes go to great lengths to scrape together the money to pay school fees. Still, on balance, the products of our private school system are from wealthier backgrounds than those from what less cautious souls than I might term a 'bog-standard comprehensive'.

But are they smarter? I don't think so. For a start, intelligent parents are more likely to be left-leaning and thus ideologically opposed to private schooling. (This is an incontrovertible fact, based on many years' personal observation on my part). And many highly intelligent people don't go into highly-paid jobs either, choosing to work in the public sector, or the third sector.

To cut to my question though, as it's way past bedtime... How do you judge who is more deserving of a place at a top uni, let's say Oxford or Cambridge: the kid from a rough background at a poorly performing school who gets 3Bs - or the kid from a solidly upper-middle class family who goes to one of our top public schools and comes away with 3As? OK, the rich kid has technically achieved more and is better educated (in a narrow sense), but who has the greatest natural ability, and the most potential? And who needs that Oxbridge place the most?

55 comments:

bevanite said...

Nice post! very interesting final comment. Who needs the Oxbridge place the most? The poorer child who will inspire hundreds others, from their school and family/friendship group, for years to come as an example of where hard work can lead, I would say. They probably deserve it more as well.

Having been forced to apply to Oxbridge (and then turning down a place at Oxford - horrible and chlaustrophobic) by a pushy Catholic school - I can see that someone conversely who defied the expectations of both their school and possibly their family in breaking the "glass ceiling" of expectation has achieved a heck of a lot more than the force-fed, primed candidates from private and grammar schools.

like Tony Benn suggests:
those in the best schools are not necessarily gifted children but the children of extraordinarily gifted parents.

Leg-iron said...

Is this still going around?

I taught at degree level for thirteen years. Some of the students came from farms, some from council housing, some from the Big Houses with Audis parked outside.

There was no correlation at all between money and intelligence. None. There never has been.

There was some correlation between money and attitude. The poorer students had to struggle to pay their way. Sure, some were there just to dodge the dole for a few years but most worked hard because they didn't want to struggle like their parents. Some were smart, some weren't so smart but they put the work in and passed.

The very rich kids, generally, didn't give a damn. There were exceptions, a few, but most were like a very well-off PhD student I tried to teach who preferred skiing to studying. Waster.

In between, what you like to call 'middle class', was a mixture. Most were serious about the degree but they didn't feel the same urge to escape their situation as the poorer kids.

It was attitude, not intelligence, that determined whether they did well. It was intelligence that got them a first rather than a 2.2, but if they'd managed to get on the course then they were capable of passing. Some didn't because of their attitude.

The 'rich people are smarter' meme is a strawman. It's patently rubbish. Intelligent people do better than dim ones. If you clamp them down because you don't like their background, they'll go criminal and they'll be very good at that too.

Intelligent people have the potential to become wealthier than dim ones. That means the smarter working class kids get out of the estate and get a good job, a good income, a nice house and car...

...and then you call them middle class and despise them.

What is it with socialists and 'class'? My father worked the mines, we lived in council housing. I passed exams and went to university. Now I run my own business. So what am I? Working class kid made good, or despicable capitalist? How do we win?

Why can't you just accept that we're all people and that we are not all the same? We don't want to be all the same. That conjures a vision of a very grey world indeed.

Stop trying to divide us with this 'class' nonsense. Try thinking of the people you see as human rather than as vote units.

The first party to do that, I think, will sweep the board at the next election. At the moment, none of them are trying. They all see us as 'voters' and that's it.

We're not people to you politicos. We're currency.

Dick the Prick said...

No, obviously not, but there is a greater level of insulation so that finance is never a problem so frees up shed loads of RAM. This translates thru the parents too in that they've got more ability to devote to nagging & supporting on homework issues.

I'm gonna leave the left leaning people being more intelligent jibe hanging but mention that finance, or rather lack of it has, in my observations, broken up perfectly stable families. If cash is irrelevant then chances are someone's gainfully employed (and blokes especially treat jobs as status symbols for which cash acts as alternative to inherent value) so the separation between work and family can be easier.

Bristol Dave said...

For a start, intelligent parents are more likely to be left-leaning and thus ideologically opposed to private schooling. (This is an incontrovertible fact, based on many years' personal observation on my part).

Christ on a bike, I don't know where to begin with this sentence. So something that you have "personally observed" is an incontrovertible fact? Unless I've missed the sarcasm, this is just clearly nonsense.

Can I also ask what kind of evidence suggests that "intelligent" parents are more likely to be left-leaning? Not too much political bias showing through there then Kerry. I'd say intelligent people come from all walks of life and all political backgrounds, right and left. Or maybe "left-leaning" people have chosen the "correct" (in your eyes) political ideology?

And many highly intelligent people don't go into highly-paid jobs either, choosing to work in the public sector, or the third sector.
But many do. Aside from the fact that now it seems the public sector can often be relied upon to offer jobs to people who are otherwise unemployable in the private sector, I'm not sure what relevance this has to the discussion.

How do you judge who is more deserving of a place at a top uni, let's say Oxford or Cambridge: the kid from a rough background at a poorly performing school who gets 3Bs - or the kid from a solidly upper-middle class family who goes to one of our top public schools and comes away with 3As?
It's very hard to judge, there isn't really any difference between the pass marks you've given. If there was one kid with 3 As and one kid with a C and 2 Ds the decision would be easier, regardless of background.

OK, the rich kid has technically achieved more and is better educated (in a narrow sense), but who has the greatest natural ability, and the most potential?
Impossible to tell given the information.

And who needs that Oxbridge place the most?
Both need it equally, surely?

SteveL said...

I think the fee paying schools teach kids to work well and do lots of exams, whereas in my ofsted-"satisfactory" comp you had to learn to hide your abilities in the playground -or hide in the library to avoid being "taxed" for being an "inter", illectuals being considered objects of derision.

But, a lot of those public school kids couldn't handle the harsh indifference of the university I went to (not an oxbridge one), where nobody sat you down and made you do your homework, nobody checked that you turned up to lectures, nobody looked after you. Some of them just broke, spent the last six months at college bouncing a squash ball off the wall in their bedroom (he went to Milford School, somerset), or discover drugs for the first time and disappear into a haze of marijuana and ecstacy (something in Canterbury). The sheltering of schoolkids in rural public schools left them utterly uprepared for the real world of a modern city. Maybe these kids need to get into Oxbridge, as they can't handle anything else.

Old Holborn said...

yes

Chris Hutt said...

"intelligent parents are more likely to be left-leaning and thus ideologically opposed to private schooling".

A bit subjective, that?

To try to answer your last question, Oxbridge intake should be based on potential to benefit from what Oxbridge has to offer. Why cast pearls to swine? So Oxbridge have to make judgements as to which candidates will benefit the most (and in turn reflect most on the high esteem of Oxbridge). That judgement must take account of cultural and social aspects as well as pure intelligence. So it's bound to favour public schools.

Students from the 'wrong' social and cultural background are likely to have a very difficult time at Oxbridge, irrespective of their intelligence. If the end result is that they drop-out or become disaffected what is the point?

The overwhelming majority from poor backgrounds will not have the intelligence to go to Oxbridge anyway, many won't be up to university at all. What about them? Shouldn't their life chances be the primary concern of Labour politicians?

Remember Remember said...

Sounds almost like you now want "positive" discrimination for thickies. It's academia which needs an overhaul, and management.
Brits are famous around the world for being muddlers and are quite possibly the worst managers in the developed world (This is an incontrovertible fact, based on many decades' personal observation by millions of non-brits like me).
Recently a study by a multinational corporation showed that by far the most innovations came actually from their unqualified staff, not the qualified graduates. This shows that qualified people are not good at innovation, common sense or management compared to the unqualified. The solution is NOT to dumb down the unqualified into products of academia but for academia and management to be taught that qualifications don't mean a person is good for a job.
In my business I would employ someone who gained a Lego master-builders certificate as a kid over someone with an academic degree. But I am a successful product of the enterprise allowance scheme of the 80's which enabled the unqualified to develop their ideas unhampered by academia and incompetent management.
Oh, it's the same ilk in thousands of unproductive leech occupations who today make up the rules that make GB uncompetitive in the world.

DaveA said...

I hope you are well Kerry. You make some interesting points let me try and answer. I failed my 11 plus and went to a comprehesive and based on my experiences decided to send my daughter to a private school. My surname is ultimately Anglo-Saxon and means the dwelling by the spring farm. So I guess after 13 centuries my daughter is the first member of my family to attend university.

My father's family were mostly agricultural labourers from the north west and mothers, East End manual labourers. So there is hope for anyone.

In the 1950s-1970s about 60% of state educated children made up Oxbrige via the grammar school system. My experience of grammar school people is that about 5-10% were genuine working class people who had their chance.

So just as I dislike racial and sexual quotas, working class people should need to get the 3As that private school people require too.

Guthrum said...

How do you judge who is more deserving of a place at a top uni, let's say Oxford or Cambridge

I am afraid by selective education, but you damn well make sure that poorer kids with talent can get bursaries and scholarships, not impoverishing student loans. Oxbridge is fast getting a reputation for the universities where a shed load of foreign cash is preferably to raw domestic talent

Kerry said...

OK, I admit the 'intelligent people are more likely to be left-wing' line was a bit of a wind-up. Michael Gove and William Hague, for example, are undeniably clever. Not quite normal, but clever nonetheless.

Kerry said...

Actually, I take that back - a Tory boy (timforchange) has posted this reply to me on Twitter:

"So you thnk we shd make 100m shorter in Olympics for those frm African countries who hv hd to work harder to reach same excellence?"

Er... no.

thebristolblogger said...

"Who needs that Oxbridge place the most?"

Wrong question Kerry. It should be "do we need Oxbridge at all"?

Is it really in the country's interests that 85% of judges in this country are effectively selected at age 18, largely from public schools?

Is it really in the country's interests if most of our top civil servants attend one of two universities, after having had a private education?

Ditto cabinet politicians.

Ditto BBC

Ditto, now, the police.

Why do we need an establishment elite exclusively trained at Oxbridge?

Old Holborn said...

So you came from a middle class family in Luton and went to Uni to study law but now live in a Bristol slum and are soon to be unemployed.

Nice one Kerry. Very New Labour.

Dungeekin said...

QUOTE:
For a start, intelligent parents are more likely to be left-leaning and thus ideologically opposed to private schooling.
UNQUOTE

Excuse me?

This is based on YOUR empirical analysis, taken from a standpoint of your own left-leaning position.

That one remark is, quite possibly, the most incredibly stupid thing I've ever seen, heard, witnessed or even envisioned.

I applaud you. You have managed, if to do so were possible, to further lower my opinion of the overall intellect of Labour MPs.

Dungeekin

Punchie said...

Short answer: no

Bevanite makes an interesting point about being 'forced' to consider going to Oxford - because this raises the wider issue of aspiration, or lack thereof, in educational achievement.

A friend of mine who works in education tells me that if two children from different backgrounds have an equal IQ at age 5, at age 10 the child from the more disadvantaged background will be left behind.

In other words, there is no single correlation between intelligence and achievement (which isn't to discount it altogether) however the more advantaged child tends to grow up in a household which places a high value on education - which then often leads to achievement.

Schools also have a big role in inspiring children and raising their aspirations. I went to one of the top universities via a 'bog standard comprehensive' and was amazed at the number of people from private schools who had been 'coached' to get in.

Which leads me to the issue of who is more 'deserving' of a place at the top universities: a child with 4 As and a private education, or one with lower grades but from a more disadvantaged background?

It's disingenuous to argue that the child with straight A grades is more intelligent, because this is based on the false assumption of a level field of competition - which more often than not isn't the case.

Of course, the long term solution is to invest in education, however in the short term we shouldn't use education to further entrench privilege.

Hedgehog said...

...intelligent parents are more likely to be left-leaning and thus ideologically opposed to private schooling. (This is an incontrovertible fact, based on many years' personal observation...

I cannot begin to say how offensive this is. Your blog, your rules, fair enough, but you are an elected representative of ALL your constituents not just people who agree with you. Have you not thought that you perception of intelligence rests on someone agreeing with your own political pre-dispositions? Can you not see your own in-built psychological bias: presumably you hold your views because you perceive them to be rational, ergo anyone who holds a different view must be irrational? I despair at this type of arrogance.....

Dick the Prick said...

How intelligent do you need to be to define intelligence?

I was an intelligence analyst for 5 years and seriously, give me 20 minutes and a decent environment and i'll make friends with people. SQL, VLOOKUPs, HLOOKUPs, Regression analysis, confidence intervals mean nowt to a dude or dudette with a mission.

There's the thing too that kids at 18 are just kids at 18.

Dick the Prick said...

Do the sins of the father transfer to those of the son? If activity is taught as well as memory then it's such hippy primal scream that our own intervention amounts to nought.

I only know young lads in my gig as foster carer and general all around 'what the bloody hell's going on here? then role'. Ofcourse their is a creed of gots that have absolutely no bother with stuff and that invariably manifests itself in their kid raising stuff - all families have shitheads.

Dick the Prick said...

gits - err... soz.

Roger Thornhill said...

Kerry,

That line was more than a bit of a wind-up - it was totally delusional. Don't you realise that there are herds of ladder-kicking Guardianistas out there who sincerely believe such things?

Intelligence is not everything. The most successful people out there tend to be those who are adept at interpersonal relationships for good or ill.

Regardless, I would suggest that common sense, integrity and reasoning is more important and if someone has that, they are almost certainly not left-leaning.

Kerry said...

Proof if it was needed that people should read the comments as well as the blog before they steam in!It was a wind-up, ok, which obviously did the trick! Have just asked my staff for more examples of intelligent right-wing people - so far they have come up with George Bush, Sarah Palin... I am sure we can do better.

OH - I don't come from a middle-class family. I spent my early years in a council house, and my stepfather was a demolition contractor, who had a yard selling reclaimed bricks and timber. I'm still the only one in my family who has ever been to uni, although my father, who spent 30 years working for Pickfords on removal vans, got a degree from an FE college in Ireland as a mature student when he retired. And I didn't study law at uni. I studied Russian and Politics. Please do your homework next time!

And Blogger, as someone who did the Cambridge entrance exam and then failed miserably at the interview because I had no idea how to talk to posh people about poetry, I tend to agree with you.

Obsidian said...

I'm not even sure where to start here...

Firstly, excellence in exams is no longer an accurate reflection of general intelligence.

Secondly, wealth is a marker for increased opportunity, not intelligence. The fact money can buy you a better education, and so increase performance for a given intellect, is down to the mediocrity we see in state schools - something neither main party can proclaim innocence in.

We have plenty of smart poor people, sadly their education is lacklustre so they find it difficult to achieve their potential.

Of course the answer would be grammar schools, but when Thatcher introduced Circular 10/70 Labour driven councils wasted little time in decimating them, and neither party seems willing to admit how damaging that was to social mobility.

And really, the whole question of who would be more deserving of an Oxbridge place would be rendered moot with a better education system, one designed to allow students to show their intelligence regardless of background.

No longer being able to truly judge merit from exam results is damning evidence of just how badly Labour have failed our children.

And finally, using personal experience as the only supporting evidence to for your 'incontrovertible' claim in about education? Oops!

Kerry said...

"And finally, using personal experience as the only supporting evidence to for your 'incontrovertible' claim in about education? Oops!"

I am going to have to resort to using those smiley icons, aren't I?
Here you go:

"This is an incontrovertible fact, based on many years' personal observation on my part ;}"

The Grim Reaper said...

I just thank god that you're not Derek Draper. If it was, the post title would be "Are rich people more racist?" before it turns into a diatribe about Iain Dale and the Guido Fawkes blog.

But back to this entry - this is probably the worst thing you've ever written on the blog. I don't know where to even begin rebutting what you've said. I can only conclude that MPs are considerably dimmer than the rest of the population.

Kerry said...

Lazy blogging, oh grim one. Explain yourself.

Dick the Prick said...

OK KM what's right wing?

I'll look after me own and then....

(Ey, you started it)

Dick the Prick said...

How liberal is it to use all one's power to tell people to shut the fuck up (I don't expect this to be published), to get them away from the cloud of waffle and trifle and mockery, of free expression - it's an old trick but if you can get people to disagree with you, get a cheese environment where they feel able to criticize - old skool!

We need to give them power or at least make believe. I'm fed up with JS Mill and implied Liberty. I've got me own gig to do.

Dick the Prick said...

No one mentioned their mum? All mum's are right wing.

Dick the Prick said...

Way to piss off the women Kezza

John said...

For a start, intelligent parents are more likely to be left-leaning and thus ideologically opposed to private schooling. (This is an incontrovertible fact, based on many years' personal observation on my part).

I'm speechless really.

For starters, how about you compare the (lack of) talent on the Labour benches, with the Tories on the opposing benches. You lot don't compare too favourably do you?

Secondly, despite them not being intelligent enough to be left wing, they managed to bring the country back from bankruptcy in the 80's, and give you years of economic growth as a parting gift in 1997.

Despite the intelligence of you left wingers however, it was you lot that bankrupted the country in the 70's, and are about to do it again.

Chris Hutt said...

"And Blogger, as someone who did the Cambridge entrance exam and then failed miserably at the interview because I had no idea how to talk to posh people about poetry, I tend to agree with you."

This is a good example of what I was trying to explain. Oxbridge has a certain culture which will seem very alien to many otherwise intelligent kids but which those from the elite public schools will be more comfortable with.

Oxbridge is nothing if not an elitist institution so really we have to address Bristol Blogger's point about whether we need such elitism in the first place. If we do then don't we have to accept all that goes with it, including elitist (public) schools feeding into it?

Old Holborn said...

Kerry said

";}"

Oh God, she's been at the organic Kumquat daiquiris again.

Guys, she made a joke. Lighten up. That is why we come here. She lets us get away with (some) stuff on the unwritten rule that she can get away with (some) stuff. That's blogging at it's best.

The Grim Reaper said...

What's to explain, Kerry? People should get places at university solely because of their qualifications. The best get into university, the worst should have to do without. Example for you - little old me.

Despite what my name suggests, I'm only in my mid-20s. I come from a fairly working class background (I'm only using the term cos you'll love me for it) and I did okay in school. I got a mixture of B and C grades at A Level. Not great, but still pretty good. After taking a few years away from education, I applied for university.

I ended up getting a place at Manchester Metropolitan University. Was considering taking a place at UWE in your home town, but one visit changed my mind. I quickly got the impression I had simply been chosen simply to make up the numbers. When I asked the department about it, they didn't exactly deny it, put it that way. What's being chosen just to make up the numbers gonna do to someone's motivation? In the end, I left the university because of other circumstances, but I'm glad I did leave. I've done alright without a degree. I can only assume you've been reading The Grauniad a little too often when taking the train from Bristol to London. (paid for on expenses, naturally)

Incidentally, do MPs need any formal qualifications at all? Our Prime Minister has been to university, and all he seems capable of doing is repeating simplistic slogans such as "it began in America". Oh yes, and he's managed to nearly bankrupt the country in the process. Not a ringing endorsement of higher education, is it?

Kerry said...

My mum had her hands full bringing up six kids. Very traditional household, Dad couldn't even make his own toast. (And in a house with seven women, didn't need to.) Hang on, better put one of those things again for the slower readers ;}

bevanite said...

OH "Guys, she made a joke. Lighten up. That is why we come here. She lets us get away with (some) stuff on the unwritten rule that she can get away with (some) stuff. That's blogging at it's best."

Oh good God, I feel sick. I agree with Old Holborn. the above disgust displayed from so many Trolls and people who should, well, know better, has been entertainment for a dull Friday evening. Thanks.

Trolls and co. You've had a major and worrying sense of humour bypass. 35 comments so far, one of the most interesting debates yet... I say keep the offence coming Kerry!

On another note, Punchie I completely agree. A false notion of an "equal playing field" definitely plays it's part.
We're living in a dream world if we think a kid from Hackney who has worked (usually at home, outside of a disruptive class) his or her ass off to get good grades is not as deserving as a spoon fed kid from Eton, who is almost not allowed to fail. We need to recognise achievement in context.

Oxbridge, and it's students need a social education from people who bring different life experiences as much as those kids need Oxbridge.

Kerry said...

I agree with OH too... I hate it when that happens!

Of course I could have entitled this post 'Are Germans more intelligent?' or 'Are French people more intelligent?' as more of them go to uni too. Just a thought.

bevanite said...

On agreeing with OH: been to see a doctor, they say it's a phase. 24 hour bug or something. It'll pass. Rest easy.

The Grim Reaper said...

Kerry said "Of course I could have entitled this post 'Are Germans more intelligent?' or 'Are French people more intelligent?' as more of them go to uni too."

Come the G20 summit, I'm looking forward to your next Peter Mandelson approved article asking "Are Americans more intelligent?", talking about that lovely President Obama and how some imposter pretending to be Gordon Brown has been going round blaming America for the recession.

The only reason some people failed to see your little joke was because you're not Tom Harris. I mean, his middle names have got to be "Sarcastic Git".

DaveA said...

Kerry you are in danger of becoming a national treasure in the blogosphere, if only for your indefatigability.

Question if I may, answer spin free preferred. Tom Harris was rather put in a corner on smoking at the HoC which he answered really honestly. The context was, a piece on drinking and ended up on smoking, hence the link. His reaction to both stimulating debates was something along the lines of "this is why I blog."

Much of the discussion here and elsewhere is not entirely flattering to Labour, why do you persist?

The honest answers I have had this week have got me reaching for my "Allen Carr, The Easy Way To Give Up Smoking" and reviewing your manifesto.

Well nearly, respect at least. ;)

Kerry said...

At which point I feel obliged to point out that Hopi Sen's middle name is Newmoon. Seriously.

Chris Hutt said...

Kerry said "Of course I could have entitled this post 'Are Germans more intelligent?' or 'Are French people more intelligent?' as more of them go to uni too."

But it's not the same at all. There are good reasons for hypothesising that richer people are, no average, more intelligent. No one seems to have challenged the underlying logic of this.

To summarise it, cleverer people tend to do better in life, to secure better paid jobs, to compete more successfully and to make better decisions. They tend to end up richer.

Their children tend to inherit their higher intelligence and tend to be brought up in environments that encourage the development of their intelligence (in case you think nurture is more significant than nature).

These tendencies tend to reinforce each other with each generation. There are of course many exceptions (myself included - you decide in which way) but the general pattern is clear enough.

So we can say with confidence that richer people tend to be more intelligent, not simply because they are richer but because the intelligence of their progenitors tended to make them richer.

Dave H said...

A curious posting: a comment-bait headline with little connection to the body of the text, wandering towards a chippy Old Labour chestnut for a finish.

From your comments on comments, you intended this to be a controversial posting that rapidly headed away from the title. Are you in danger of becoming a Troll on your own blog? If so, I resent the competition.

For the record they are well known (and well justified) for knocking a few points off the posh schools, but how much? A Levels are apparently so passable these days that BBB won't even get you a look in, however tough your school. It seems more like A*AA at the moment; it was ABB in 'our' day.

(I'm glad nobody brought up Harry attending Eton and only managing one dodgy Art A level. What treasonous inferences could we draw?)

Cleo said...

I wanted to respond to an idea which pervaded a number of the posts, which is a bit of a middle class myth. This is that universities are having to compromise on academic attainment in their admissions, in order to up their intake of state school children with potential, but lower grades, over privately educated children with top grades. The truth may actually be the opposite.

A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research looked at the 3As requirement for admission to Oxbridge and found that 36 per cent of students with three A grades are from the private sector, yet 47 per cent of successful candidates at Oxford come from independent schools. According to the IPPR co-director, Lisa Harker, state school students getting three A grades at A-level are "significantly under-represented at both universities [Oxford and Cambridge]". So the problem is not even that state students don't achieve three grade As.

So it seems there isn’t even parity between students with the same grades. There should anyway, I think, be a greater openness to admitting students with lower grades from bog-standard comprehensives. It is clear that the quality of the school has an influence on the GCSE achievement. If that wasn’t the case, why would anyone pay to get their children into a fee-paying school?

One of the big problems for social mobility and meritocracy is that wealthier parents can buy advantages for their children, regardless of their abilities. Statistically, there is no correlated between gifted children and the highest earners.

Incidentally, I was also amazed by the comments which took Kerry’s blindlingly obvious joke as straight comment.

Gandhi said...

How about: intelligent people consider individuals and don't pigeon-hole them as left/right wing, black, muslim, jewish etc and then start making despicable generalisations based on the anecdotal evidence of their own limited and biased experiences? Least of all to later apply their telling personal prejudices to oppressive utilitarian policy initiatives!

Kerry said...

How about "intelligent people have a sense of humour and realise when someone is trying to wind them up by making patently obviously flippant remarks?"

Or "(slightly less) intelligent people read the comments as well as the original post and realise that it has been explained in laborious detail that said flippant remark was designed to wind up the less intelligent amongst the readership?"

Gandhi said...

Blah - there's no such thing as an obviously flippant remark from somebody you don't know and who fails to employ the customary italics.

It's an attempt at humour which gives away the background to your thinking, and the questions you ask are all about how to make generalisations in policy making. Why not just leave well alone and let people and universities make their own decisions without interference or political pressure for fixed exam boards and grade inflation? When the universities are given freedom (or take it) they make better decisions, when they are obliged to accept people based on grades which are losing their value faster than the pound - the answer is - as always, consider the individual as presented.

By trying to force a quota of students through university, you are making members of the deprived and unintelligent underclass (such as myself) pay for an evidentially worthless middle-class jolly.

Kerry said...

I'm sure your namesake would be proud of you.

bevanite said...

There you go Kerry, evidently some contributors to this blog need italics to denote sarcasm. Maybe you could embolden your jokes and draw little stars around them just to make it clear.

Gandhi you're right, damn aspiration. The little people getting above their stations. Tut tut.

Ps can't use italics or stars on my phone, so, to clarify I was being sarcastic.clear enough?

Gandhi said...

Caligula thought he was funny too...

Aspiration is a prerequisite for learning. By herding uninterested drones into the legions of the 'qualified', you give learning a bad name. You create...

"Educated fools from uneducated schools"

...I bet the State hasn't taught you which genius gave us that insight?

Aspiration is healthy, State tyranny dulls the mind. This aspirant is a proud non-graduate and one of a tiny minority of Britons with a command of English.

Two more quotes for you, you might know at least one of these:

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education"

"Those who know how to think need no teachers"

lilith said...

After three generations of degree holders, some of them with two or even three, my daughter at 18 is the first to gain a criminal record. That's the way. Bring those privileged youth down to size! More equality! Thank you New Labour. Criminalise them all, harvest their DNA! Hurrah!

Miller 2.0 said...

Very smart argument here Kerry.

Calfy said...

I'm the aforementioned 18 year old daughter and I'd like to point out, having just sat three A levels last year, that nobody getting 3 Bs deserves a place at Oxbridge.
I'm not proud of it but I did little to no work for my A levels. I also got a U and an E in my English and History courseswork respectively. I also sat them in half time; I did my AS and my A levels in the same academic year.
I still got ABB overall (and I missed the British democracy history module due to being detained without charge in a police cell on a spurious charge of assaulting a police officer). The A was in English, for which I had done no revision, and I had even turned up late and inebriated to one of the exams. In Ancient Greek, for which I cannot conjugate a single non-present tense verb, or even give the definite article, I gained a high B grade.
Besides which, 1 in 7 students are gaining at least 3 As at A level.
Three Bs is rubbish. Absolutely rubbish.

The Penguin said...

Oh Dear, where to begin?

I believe it was Aristotle who said that there was as much inequality in treating unequals equally as in treating equals unequally.

Grammar Schools did provide a ladder upwards for bright working class kids who also applied themselves. My brothers had the same genetic endowment and innate intelligence but chose deliberately not to pass the 11-plus. I went to Grammar School and was effectively ostracised by my own family.

Without that family support it was impossible to stay on at school beyond O-level, (GCE not the rubbish GCSE ) and it was some years later that I applied for and was offered a place at a College Of Further Education to do a 3 year Certificate of Education. I had no real desire to become a teacher, it was a route to a degree, because if I did well enough at the Certificate I would be eligible to stay on for a 4th year and sit the degree examinations. Supposedly at a higher level! So I applied myself and got distinctions all over the Certificate exams, and then found to my horror that the 4th year was a rehash of the stuff already doen, and so I coasted along to a lower second, never have been any good at repetition.

Governments being completely crap at forecasting demand or talking between departments, there was a glut of teacher out of work when I left with my B.Ed and Cert Ed. and so I joined the accountancy profession and after more application and exams becamse a Chartered Accountant.

I have watched the Leftists and Liberal handwringers destroy a lot of what was a pretty good education system. I am amazed that there are still pockets of excellence.

Thoise should be cherished and built on, but it seems that the righteous do-good brigade are still determined to level down rather than help up.

The Penguin

The King of Wrong said...

Utter claptrap. "Who needs that Oxbridge place the most?"? It's certainly not the kid with 3Bs who'll not understand any of the material and will be kicked out by the end of their first year - or, realistically, not accepted in the first place.

Forcing unis to take kids who haven't mastered the A-level syllabus means that the unis have to teach what the schools didn't, which means they aren't teaching the things that foreign universities are - which devalues UK degrees, shatters any earnings differential and makes top-up fees look like an extremely expensive luxury.

Your argument about "potential" falls down at a very basic logical fallacy. While it's true that some people in poor schools underachieve and get poor grades, not everyone with poor grades is an underachiever - some are just thick. To arbitrarily decide that 3Bs is worth 3As because of "disadvantage" to the pupil just completes the damage that grade inflation has already wreaked on A-levels.

I got 4As at A-level, from a low-performing comprehensive in a former mining town, and subsequently went to Cambridge - without anyone's arm being twisted to take account of my 'disadvantaged' background. Would a suspicion that I was only there because of positive discrimination have helped me in any way?

I'd just like to say this: stop trying to socially engineer outcomes which you consider 'fair' based on a misapplication of statistics and anecdotal evidence. You are causing more harm than good.