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Sunday, February 13, 2011


I think it worth posting this ranking of reading ability by nationality. The UK at 494 isn't abysmal, indeed we are just above the average but being ahead of Hungary and Portugal and behind the Poles is hardly a source of pride or confidence. Scotland's comes in at a marginally better 500 but there is a clear downward trend since 526 in 2000.

Don't expect this to be as widely discussed by politicians and media as the pulchitrudity or otherwise of party leader's partners.

This is Pournelle on the US system, which he considers dreadful though it comes out a lot better than ours.
The purpose of the US education system is to insure employment of bad teachers. It is well known that the efficiency of the system as measured by student performance will be about doubled by firing the 10% worst teachers and apportioning their students out among the rest; that is overwhelmingly to be preferred to "smaller classroom size", teacher pay raises, or anything else that might be tried. Of course this won't be tried because the purpose of the whole system is to see to it that the bad teachers are not fired and are allowed to go through ruining lives until they get large pensions.

The second purpose of the system is to insure full employment for professors of education, many of whom have never done any actual teaching, but whose imprimatur is needed to get the "merit pay" advances you can get from "workshops" and various courses in education. Some education colleges actually prepare teachers to teach, but many simply punch tickets; a lot of bad teachers who ought to be fired get "merit" pay for having accumulated credits from education professors. My suspicion is that firing about half the professors of education would greatly improve the efficiency of the system but I don't have any studies or numbers to prove that; but I would bet money that firing the worst 10% would instantly improve the colleges of education just as firing the worst 10% of classroom teachers would instantly improve the schools.

The purpose of the schools is to extract money from taxpayers and pay it in ways that insure that professors of education and bad teachers get paid. It is not to create citizens, or to teach anything; it is not to train future Legionnaires. If we are to have Legions, the first thing we need to do is cut all ties between the Armed Forces school systems for service dependents from the rest of the education system and run it in a rational manner as it has been done in the past. Alas the trend is in the other direction, with more and more of the poison that ruined the US public school system spreading everywhere else.

Schools no longer prepare students to be citizens or to learn the skills to be employed, even in the Legions. They have new purposes now, and they serve them well.

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I want to point out that many of the countries in the commonwealth do better than the UK. Canada (524) and New Zealand (521) both score better than their mother country (494). Considering the racial differences in ability that show up in the US I wouldn't be surprised if the scores of Britain's native White population was higher than its South Asian/Pakistani population.

The second point I want to make is that once we acknowledge racial differences in ability we see massive differences in outcome even adjusted for IQ. A good example of this underachievement would be Argentina, which according to IQ and the Wealth of Nations has a median IQ of 96, but has an educational achievement level lower than US Blacks (85).

I don't have a clue right now how to scatter plot the educational data versus IQ, but I would bet that there would be a lot of countries above and below the correlation line. Pournelle's lament about the US educational system is probably much more true in the third world than it is in America or Britain.
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These Ciommonwealth countries are also richer than us, including Singapore & it is not unreasonable to expect richer countries to afford a better educational system.

Britain does have a significant oriental population, which should push up IQ. It is smaller than the Pakistani one & far less noisy.
I chose Argentina because there could be cultural and bureaucratic factors holding a country back. Let me give you an extreme example close to your heart: Serbia. If you look at the graph you posted you will notice that Serbian educational achievement is on par with US Blacks, and yet having met a few they did not strike me as stupid. Russia is also a major underachiever, and the sink estates of Scotland that you mentioned could be directing young boys away from school causing Scotland's score to be lower than Scottish IQ would dictate.
yes but the correlation with national wealth is very strong I am interested in ones that break that mold eg Shanghai at the top & very wealthy Dubai at 459 & even then Shanghai is not poor & Dubai is only a generation out of the desert. The Israeli one is difficult to explain, as is its low IQ score generally particularly when experience indicates otherwise.
Israel is a multiethnic society whose population is one-fifth Arab. Since the Arabs most likely have a median IQ of 85, this depresses Israel's country average. Furthermore, the Jewish population is divided into groups of differing ability, with these groups having median IQ's of 70 (Ethiopian Jews) to 110+ (Pure blooded Ashkenazi).

Having said all that though, I think Israel makes really good use of its talent regardless of how smart its population is.
Israel's success may be confirmation of Heinlein's position that what matters is the very small number at the far end of the normal curve (1%, 0.1%?)
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