Well, that kills that idea then

Peal said the link between poverty and poor educational performance had become a “truism” in the left-leaning educational establishment, but it was disproved by international figures.

For example Japan, Canada and Poland all fare worse for child poverty than Britain in Unicef data.

But they rank higher than this country in a key measure of educational achievement, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the report said.

And social inequality is more extreme in China and South Korea, but both beat Britain in the PISA data, it added.


Turns out
that it’s just crap teaching in crap schools that’s the problem.

23 comments on “Well, that kills that idea then

  1. There’s child poverty in Canada and Japan? Really? Seriously?

    When I see statements like that I think it demeans children who are starving, live in a shack and die before they reach double figures.

    It’s like grouping together common cold sufferers with terminally ill cancer patients.

    If that’s the group you’re targetting, it’s a bit difficult to define the means by which you remedy the situation.

  2. Unsurprisingly, written by a historian rather than a statistician.

    When you cite three out of the 34 OECD members as outliers on one measure, and two out of 34 on another, in order to deny a link that is massively statistically significant – that is exactly the same as citing your aunt who smoked 50 a day and lived to be 100 to deny that smoking increases lung cancer risk.

  3. But john. It’s all about inequality.
    We breathlessly await the learned paper based on impeccable research, shows conclusively, the children of millionaires educationally do much worse than the children of billionaires, due to their crippling disadvantage.

  4. “in order to deny a link that is massively statistically significant”

    No, that’s begging the question. I argued this in detail recently with a Welsh leftist (education in Wales has tanked completely under devolution) and discovered the tactic that has evolved and that is necessary for maintaining that inequality is the issue is to deny that the PISA methodology is valid.

    For example:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25299445
    and
    http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6344672
    and
    http://www.statslife.org.uk/opinion/1074-the-problems-with-pisa-statistical-methods

    This is the ONLY way the left analysis of educational differences can be tortured into a vague resemblance of a credible argument.

    Meanwhile, village schools in Africa can deliver better literacy than massively-funded inner-city comps here.

  5. I suspect the methodology is invalid but that invalidates any claim made about what the data show. Plotting national average educational attainment against national average wealth on a graph tells you very little about how individual (parental) wealth affects educational attainment. Which is what we care to know the answer to. And I see only two ideological sides here arguing over the detailed of complicated ways of analysing data that isn’t set up to answer the question.

  6. @PR 08:45

    That is entirely logical.
    If there is a link between inequality & educational underperformance, in places where people obsess about inequality educationalists will respond, take appropriate steps & remedy underperformance. But if there is no link, those steps will be inappropriate & may enhance underperformance. So it’s perfectly possible, educational underperformance is linked, not to inequality, but worrying about it.

  7. I suspect relative parental wealth is always going to have a link to educational success (on average.)

    Whether it is going the public (UK) / private (everywhere else) school route, or being able to afford to live in the catchment area of a not-terrible school, or being able to afford out-of-school tutors, or not needing the child to work in the family business so they can actually attend school.

  8. Attitude is all that matters, on both sides – teachers and parents/children.

    I suspect the real correlation is between poverty and not really giving a fuck, both parents and teachers.

  9. education in Wales has tanked completely under devolution

    I went to school in Wales pre-devolution, and I can only assume they are making use of the deep underground mines in the country to accommodate their new levels of education.

  10. Oh, and if anyone thinks there is a correlation between a country’s wealth (however measured), poverty, and levels of education, I give you Australia: highly paid, very little poverty (outside the Aborginal areas), thick as pigshit.

  11. The book the Spirit level ignored South Korea, probably because it would screw up all their conclusions.

  12. “public (UK) / private (everywhere else)”: that wasn’t true when I was a boy. In Scotland the schools called “public” were public in the same sense as Americans use the word. What Englishmen called public were referred to as “private” in Scotland – again, like the Yanks.

    In other words, it is not (or was not) even the whole of the UK that made the distinction you refer to. I’d be mildly interested to know whether the SNP preserve that Scottish distinction or just ape the English one.

  13. You do not need to be rich in order to learn (although inheriting a higher IQ does help). The condemnation of “progressive” education policies is valid. I started school, long before “progressive “education became fashionable, in a mining village in Lanarkshire. Most families were poor – fathers took mining jobs because they were so much higher paid than the healthier, safer, surface alternatives so think how little the non-miners earned! Every single child learned to read write (in copperplate, no less) and do simple arithmetic (addition, subtraction, times tables) within four or five terms of starting school, mostly within three.
    Under “progressive” policies we have millions who are still illiterate and innumerate after thirty terms at school. Some maths courses at “new universities” include stuff I learned at 15.
    @ john b
    “massively statistically significant” is *not* a recognised scientific term. A result may be statistically significant at the 10% level, the 5% level, the 1% level, the 1 in a million level, … but you are just throwing labels about without any evidence on *your* side to support them. If you want an adverb to qualify “statistically significant”, miniscule would be more appropriate than massive.

  14. Rob – “I suspect the real correlation is between poverty and not really giving a fuck, both parents and teachers.”

    I think you mean causation. I am willing to bet there is a correlation between the numbers of non-Oriental non-Whites and low performance.

    Tim Newman – “Oh, and if anyone thinks there is a correlation between a country’s wealth (however measured), poverty, and levels of education, I give you Australia: highly paid, very little poverty (outside the Aborginal areas), thick as pigshit.”

    From the PISA tests:

    Mathematics: 19 Australia 504; 26 United Kingdom 494
    Reading: 13= Australia 512; 23 United Kingdom 499
    Science: 16= Australia 521; 20= United Kingdom 514

  15. From the PISA tests:

    Mathematics: 19 Australia 504; 26 United Kingdom 494
    Reading: 13= Australia 512; 23 United Kingdom 499
    Science: 16= Australia 521; 20= United Kingdom 514

    Take out the Chinese and other South Asian migrants and see what you’re left with!

  16. I think it was neo-capitalist running dog John Cooper Clark that Tim quoted a few weeks ago saying something along the lines of “the really important thing is learning how to read – once you can read, you can teach yourself the rest.”

    Everything else is an optional add on. But literacy and numeracy are vital. And if they have to come at the cost of anything else, so be it.

  17. SMFS – sadly beating the UK education system no longer stops them being “thick as pigshit”.

  18. Rob,

    “I suspect the real correlation is between poverty and not really giving a fuck, both parents and teachers.”

    Parents are a huge factor.

    One of the problems with league tables is that there’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in them. Successful, pushing parents try to get their kids into the best schools. And you see good results coming out. What’s not seen is the role of parents in that. They make sure homework gets done. If the school seems to be setting kids homework that’s too easy, they’ll get them extra homework. If their child is struggling in a subject, they’ll pay for extra tuition.

    I know schools run by lazy headmasters that get quite good results, and it’s a lot down to being in a good catchment area. On the flip side, there are schools in rough areas that get subpar results, but what do you do with a muslim girl whose parents don’t even think she should be in school?

  19. I haven’t found Australians to be thick, exactly, just ignorant, and scared of abstract thought. The combination is not unknown in our own wee archipelago, but it does seem to be commoner there.

  20. All behavioural traits are heritable, as is IQ. The behavioural traits (and intelligence) that enable one to be a successful member of the middle classes are the same as those that enable one to do well at school. The degree to which a child’s personality is modified by its (non-genetic) family environment is virtually nil. Non-genetic, non-familial effects account for more than 50% of the total variance, and genes take up almost all the rest. This, of course, completely torpedoes the progressive educational project. In fact, it is because it is true that most of modern pedagogy is doomed. Add in assortative mating and it is clear that if there is a solution it is not to be found in the kinds of things we are trying at the moment.

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