Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Education, education

Two articles, both stating the fairly obvious, but in a way, don't they cancel out?

From King's College:

Eva Krapohl, joint first author of the study, from the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s, says:

"Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable. In this study, we wanted to find out why that is. What our study shows is that the heritability of educational achievement is much more than just intelligence – it is the combination of many traits which are all heritable to different extents.

"It is important to point out that heritability does not mean that anything is set in stone. It simply means that children differ in how easy and enjoyable they find learning and that much of these differences are influenced by genetics."

The researchers found that the heritability of GCSE scores was 62%. Individual traits were between 35% and 58% heritable, with intelligence being the most highly heritable. Together, the nine domains accounted for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores.

From the BBC:

Pupils in poorer areas were likely to have fewer high-performing schools in travelling distance.

And within local areas, when individual sought-after schools used distance as a tie-breaker, it meant that wealthier families could afford to buy houses to get nearer to the front of the queue.

"Poor parents have fewer high performing schools available to them. This will remain true as long as proximity, and hence the size of your mortgage, determines access to such schools," said Anna Vignoles, professor of education at Cambridge University.

The good school = high house prices dilemma is easily solved. Stop taxing output and employment and tax land values instead. So the people in the catchment areas are at least indirectly paying for the education of people in cheaper areas.

But having solved that dilemma, we are left with the general conclusion that as intelligence etc. is hereditary and clever/confident people tend to earn more money, the better off people will always be the ones who can afford to buy/pay the LVT on homes near the best schools.

So best to start again from the beginning and try and make all schools into 'good' schools. There's no argument against that. Pissing about with lotteries for school places is a hiding to nothing.


A K Haart said...

"make all schools into 'good' schools."

Vouchers must be worth a try.

paulc156 said...

Making 'all schools good schools' is a no brainer. Something we should all agree upon in any case regardless of what percentage of intelligence is heritable.
That said, these studies come thick and fast and editorial bias often offers either misleading or partial interpretations of evidence. As yet no single gene or group of genes has been identified as being responsible for any such heritability, though that is not a reason to doubt it as an explanation it should suggest some caution in the interpretation of results.
Studies on identical twins [of which there have been many] have shown that when we view intelligence more broadly [ie;not just as IQ tests or GCSE's] there appears to be a whole range of activities identifiable as 'markers of intelligence' which either favour cultural or heritable origins as best fit explanations.

There is a recent meta study by Kees-Jan Kan into a whole raft of identical twins studies involving thousands of twins in 13 different countries which Scientific American encapsulated with a tentative takeaway conclusion thus:
"What these findings do suggest is that there is a much greater role of culture, education, and experience in the development of intelligence than mainstream theories of intelligence have assumed." The conclusion goes on to state what may seem obvious, that even where heritability is high, it is routinely reinforced by cultural factors.

mombers said...

I find the idea of making all schools 'good schools' troublesome. How do you make a school 'good' if most of the kids don't speak English as a first language? If most of them have single mums? You can throw as much money at the problem as you like but absent any middle class peers, how can the able students emerge from these black holes? How do you achieve assimilation of immigrants?
I think the lottery is a viable option. LVT is of course a good way to ensure that a good state education's value isn't syphoned off by landowners. Abolition of taxes on earned income could lift many out of crappy lives. But how do you counter the segregation that school selection creates? I would say that it actually strengthens homeownerism as the landed are insulated from the troubles of the landless. No one from Leafy Suburb College has to leave because they are priced out of the area.