9 comments on “An interesting pair of stories

  1. Quite impossible to believe the first proposition on its own.

    It sounds like that old canard that if the rich children weren’t sent to public school but went to the knife academy like everyone else, then the knife academy would be like Eton.

  2. “Working class children ‘ashamed of saying they want to go to university’”: thank you, Forces of Progress; thank you NUT.

  3. Given that headlines are just approximations, somewhat easy to believe in both….

    Mind you, such stories always ignore the Heffalump: some children are born brighter than others, and God, in his infinite wisdom, has decreed that the distribution of the brighter ones is not random.

  4. dearieme – “Mind you, such stories always ignore the Heffalump: some children are born brighter than others, and God, in his infinite wisdom, has decreed that the distribution of the brighter ones is not random.”

    You don’t say. But of course the distribution is entirely even across racial categories. Despite tens of thousands of years of separate evolution.

    The Guardian was seriously arguing that middle class parents are to blame for educational inequality because they *read* to their children. Can’t have that. But there is evidence of a real cultural difference between rich and poor children which is all the fault of parents. Middle class parents are likely to speak up to 30 million more words to their children by the time they are three:

    http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/the-word-gap

    he landmark Hart and Risley study in 1995 identified “remarkable differences” in the early vocabulary experiences of young children. Researcher and author Betty Hart described the results of their observations: “Simply in words heard, the average child on welfare was having half as much experience per hour (616 words per hour) as the average working-class child (1,251 words per hour) and less than one-third that of the average child in a professional family (2,153 words per hour)” (Hart & Risley 2003, 8). This is important because vocabulary development during the preschool years is related to later reading skills and school success in general.

    The “average child on welfare” is likely a euphemism for “Black”. But whatever.

    The only way to eliminate this gap is to eliminate welfare children. Not a particularly viable policy option.

  5. “The only way to eliminate this gap is to eliminate welfare children. Not a particularly viable policy option.”

    Or hobble the progress of middle class children in the education system.

    After all “equality” is a race to the bottom…

  6. I’ve pointed out the syllogism here before, but a fresh airing won’t hurt.
    Proposition: intelligence is the single biggest (albeit not only) predictor of socioeconomic success.
    Proposition: Intelligence is heritable (and it is. It’s more heritable than height, for example).
    Proposition: People tend to mate with those closest to them in a variety of categories (assortative mating; this is observable and non-controversial).
    Conclusion: people of higher intelligence tend to be richer, marry people of higher intelligence and produce offspring of higher intelligence.

    Are all poor people stupid? No, but a large proportion of stupid people are poor, they breed with stupid people and have stupid children.

    It’s considered anathema to point this out. Any inequity must be the fault of society, not neurophysiology. Denying the fact of something, however, does not necessarily make it false.

  7. @ SMFS
    Good reference.
    So kids with at least one parent absent all day at work hear twice as many words as those with all their parent(s) at home. The difference between working-class and middle-class parents can be largely due to the higher proportion of full-time mothers in the middle classes, but welfare vs working class …

  8. “The only way to eliminate this gap is to eliminate welfare children. Not a particularly viable policy option”

    The two child rule on new child tax credit claims comes into effect in just over a week’s time. That could see a shake up in behaviours.

  9. Intelligence is heritable (and it is. It’s more heritable than height, for example).

    Intelligence is heritable, certainly, but not more heritable than height.

    It’s important to understand that heritability is not a fundamental constant. It’s what proportion of the variance of some characteristic in some population is accounted for by genetics. Heritability is lower if the environment is more varied or parentage is less diverse.

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