The property crash was the state education system\’s fault

People with poor maths skills are more likely to be behind with their mortgage payments and have their home repossessed, according to a study.

It shows the risk of defaulting on a mortgage is directly linked to a home owner\’s maths skills and could explain the mortgage defaults in the recent global crisis.

The State has them for 11 years on a compulsory basis and still can\’t teach them to count.

Therefore it\’s all the State\’s fault. Hang them all say I, hang them all.

18 comments on “The property crash was the state education system\’s fault

  1. That’s a lot of children to hang. I think you’ll get some blowback if you make an exception for public school pupils, Tim.

  2. Ah, the old third variable thing, presumably. That is, poorer people probably have poorer math skills (due either to a correlation between intellect and career success, or to having gone to State schools) and poorer people are more likely to be unable to make mortgage payments.

  3. There’s a stock response to such accusations.
    State education system failed? It’s because we aren’t giving them enough money.
    State health system failed? Just give them more money and everything will be fine.
    Housing shortage? Give councils lots of money so they can build council houses for everyone.
    Gridlock on the roads? Let’s spend £32bn on a high speed train.
    HMRC can’t count? Give them more money so they can hire more people to try to make sense of their own fiendishly complex rules.

    So don’t blame the state systems. Blame stingy taxpayers for refusing to hand over more cash, which we know from experience is the solution to every problem. It worked so well for the NHS – spending over the last 15 years has nearly doubled (in real terms; tripled in nominal terms) – and we haven’t had any scandals.

  4. And we are just about to flog the dead horse for another two years by raising the leaving age to 18.

  5. So “the property crash was State education system’s fault…because it…can’t teach them to count “? And “poorer people probably have poorer maths skills (due either to…or to having gone to State schools)”?

    Given that difficulties with maths spread across all social classes, it’s hard to see how these remarks can be justified. For example, the evidence shows that ABC1s (who are more likely to have been privately educated) have around the same level of difficulty with mental arithmetic as C2DEs (who are more likely to have been state educated).

    In fact, poor numeracy skills are mainly associated with being male, having being born in the summer, having English as an additional language and, most significantly of all, with living in poverty.

    With the best will in the world I cannot hold the state education system responsible for any of these factors.

    Or am I confusing correlation with causation, as in the statement “poor children tend to be less numerate; poor children tend to go to state schools; therefore state schools cause innumeracy”?

  6. evidence shows that ABC1s (who are more likely to have been privately educated) have around the same level of difficulty with mental arithmetic as C2DEs (who are more likely to have been state educated)

    Fair enough. I’m not that hot on long division myself. Only

    n fact, poor numeracy skills are …associated…most significantly of all, with living in poverty.

    Isn’t that what we’re talking about?

  7. Having a State Education System is just another of those intellectual adventures that has failed. Bin it and start again.

  8. Well to be fair, judging by some of their products, the private education sector doesn’t do much better. Almost any journalist, for a start.

  9. I find it hard to believe that people are too stupid to understand the terms of mortgage repayments. More likely, the courts have ruled in private individuals’ favour over finance companies so many times, and a statutory safety net has been thrown over people for crying innocence when their own irresponsibility leads to disaster (‘mis-selling of PPI’ and the ‘mis-selling of endowment mortgages’ to working class innocent doves), that we assume the consumer is an idiot. The concept of a mortgage is so simple. Further, the law says that the consumer has to benefit from legal or independent financial advice before taking on a mortgage. If we blame it on numeracy/literacy/IQ then we will continue to allow Essex boy and white van man to go about their merry business and lead life according to unrealistic expectations of the future, regardless of the consequences when it starts to go wrong. These people simply don’t like the idea of taking personal responsibility for cutting back on foreign holidays and new cars.

  10. They may not be able to count, but I wonder if they are more likely than the average MSM journalist to spot correlation rather than causation.

    If they take a piss and the Stock Market falls they would start selling before going to the toilet. They are clueless, hysterical clowns.

  11. Sort of what Ian B said. Is it not likely that the better you are at maths, the richer you become (at least compared to your peers), regardless of where you start in the social scale? And probably less likely to default for other reasons, such as budgeting. So an ex-public school boy with double maths A level is likely to earn more than one with English and History of Art (unless royal), and is less likely to default.

    Wherever you start on the social scale, and however good or bad your education, those with a natural aptitude for maths are likely to earn more than their peers without such aptitude (think of those Essex barrow boys in the City a few years ago).

  12. I think the syllogism goes something like this:
    1) the single greatest predictor of economic status is IQ
    2) numeracy skills are very strongly correlated with IQ
    3) therefore those with higher economic status are more likely to possess superior numeracy skills.

    It’s by no means dispositive, of course, but I think it must be largely true in aggregate. It reverses the arrow of causation from what is being claimed in the article. Instead of poverty leading to poor maths skills, it’s poor numeracy (as a correlate for lower IQ) that leads to poverty. Note I’m not saying ‘all poor people are thick’ or anything idiotic like that.

  13. It does occur, it may not be the numeracy but the way of thinking produces the numeracy. Luke says above: “So an ex-public school boy with double maths A level is likely to earn more than one with English and History of Art (unless royal), and is less likely to default.” Well, we’ve all had experience of the arty types haven’t we? The every ‘opinion has equal validity’ mindset. The glazing of the eyes when anything complicated needs comprehending. Go look at CiF comment sections for some…er… unique views of how the world works. Many of them think ‘equality’ isn’t a contrived state but some sort of inherent quality. Doubtless they can’t believe the world would be so judgmental as to let them get behind with their mortgage payments.
    Anyone who does math knows the world’s a cruel place. There’s only one answer to that problem & no prizes for individuality.

  14. Not an original thought, I know, but I was pleased to see that most commenters above speak of “numeracy” rather than “mathematics”. My old mathematics teacher used to comment that, by and large, mathematicians were not much cop at arithmetic (which isn’t to say they aren’t above average!), and I have often wondered when and why educationists decided to call arithmetic “mathematics”. (Of course long division was higher mathematics once, but those times have long passed; and those higher flights of arithmetic that have some serious mathematical content — say the extraction by hand of cube roots, or even square roots — probably aren’t taught anyway.) Certainly “double maths A-level” didn’t contain any arithmetic at all.

  15. Churm Rincewind:
    Wasn’t the whole point of having state schools to provide education to those students whose parents are too poor, and/or too ignorant, to educate their children themselves? It’s not that state schools are responsible for these factors, it’s that they’re responsible for teaching the kids basic numeracy given those factors.

    It’s like the health care system, hospitals and doctors don’t confine themselves to treating diseases and injuries that they caused i the first place.

    If, unfortunately, schools cannot educate those children despite those factors (a statement that I hope is false), then the rational thing to do is to shut the state education system down, as it’s not providing any benefit.

  16. pedant: that annoys me too, but arithmetic shades into number theory, and that’s definitely higher mathematics. As a trivial example, take any prime number greater than 3, square it, and divide by 24. The remainder is one. Why? You’ve done nothing but arithmetic manipulations, but the result is not immediately obvious. Similarly, adding all the digits of a number and taking the remainder of the sum on division by 9 is arithmetical, but as a test for divisibility by 9 proof of its correctness needs a little thought.

    As for root extraction, I’m pretty sure Newton’s method is still taught.

  17. @ Tracy W: “If, unfortunately, schools cannot educate those children despite those factors (a statement that I hope is false), then the rational thing to do is to shut the state education system down, as it’s not providing any benefit.”

    I don’t know why you should isolate state education in this way. The evidence is that poor numeracy is spread across all social classes – i.e. that the private education sector is just as incapable of inculcating numeracy as the state system.

    Or are you suggesting that the entire English education system be shut down? I could go along with you on that…

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