Thursday, April 05, 2018


Matt Ridley below acknowledges his indebtedness to the iconoclastic Toby Young.  Read more of Toby here

The good news is you can save on school fees. A new study finds that selective schools add almost nothing to the exam results of students, because the advantages teenagers come out with are mainly ones they arrived with, and are for the most part genetic. The bad news is that this implies genetic stratification of society is happening, and more than we thought. But then that is bound to happen in a meritocracy. If you make everything else equal, differences will be increasingly determined by genes.

The new study comes with impeccable credentials, from a team led by Robert Plomin, a professor at King’s College London and the acknowledged leader in the genetics of intelligence. Co-authors include the researcher Emily Smith-Woolley and the prominent school reformer (and social media witch-hunt victim) Toby Young, whose father coined the word “meritocracy” 60 years ago.

It is no longer controversial that genes influence intelligence. Studies of twins repeatedly show that in typical western society, measures of general intelligence derived from IQ tests have about 30 per cent heritability (that is, 30 per cent of the variation between people can be explained by their genes) in childhood, 40 to 50 per cent in adolescence and 60 per cent in adulthood. This increasing heritability with age may appear paradoxical but it makes sense: adults are free to find their own intellectual level, whereas children can be forced by pushy parents and good schools, or by bad friends and bad schools, into seeming less like they really “are” deep down.

The politics of this are also paradoxical. The left has tended to downplay the role of genes in intelligence, while the right has welcomed it. Yet if you argue that nurture is everything and nature is nothing, then you effectively condemn people who went to poor schools to being second-rate and irredeemable; if you think nature matters, then it follows that there are gifted people in bad schools who the system should discover and rescue through affirmative action. Professor Plomin’s own talents were recognised after an IQ test: he came from a home with no books and neither parent went to university.

Likewise, when scientists began speculating about whether homosexuality had a genetic contribution, about 20 years ago, some commentators were surprised to realise that gay people generally liked the idea, because it implied that being gay was not a “choice” but inherent to who they were.

Transgender activists have also welcomed recent work implying a genetic contribution to transgender identity. It supports the notion “that transgender is not a choice but a way of being”, as one geneticist put it. The same switch to thinking that genetics tends to be on the side of the progressives has not yet occurred with respect to intelligence.

Knowing that genes matter is not the same as knowing which genes matter. For a long time it was impossible to match intelligence to any particular genes. That has changed thanks to the ability to detect the influence of many hundreds of genes, each of small effect, in large samples of genotyped people. The resulting “genome-wide polygenic scores” (GPS), are measures of which gene combinations are present. Those with a high score proved twice as likely to go on to university as those with low.

So it is now possible to see whether good schools get good results because of good teaching or good selection. The new study looked at a representative sample of 4,814 students in non-selective state schools, selective state schools (grammars) and selective private schools. The students in selective schools did better at GCSEs than those in comprehensives, as expected. But the scientists then compared the genes of the three groups, using the GPS scores that predict the number of years spent in education.

They found that three times as many students in the top tenth of the population on a GPS score went to a selective school compared with the bottom tenth. Once they controlled for factors involved in pupil selection, the variance in exam scores at age 16 explained by school type dropped from 7 per cent to less than 1 per cent. “These results show that genetic and exam differences between school types are primarily due to the heritable characteristics involved in pupil admission.”

Crikey. So all those talented Etonians were pretty talented to start with. I’m an underachiever, having gone to the same school as the last prime minister, the current foreign secretary, the Archbishop of Canterbury and recent winners of a Nobel prize for medicine (Sir John Gurdon) and an Oscar (Eddie Redmayne).

Of course, the genes involved in making somebody succeed in school may not directly determine intellect; they could somehow have caused the child’s parents to be more conscientious and read to them every night, or they could have affected the child’s appetite rather than aptitude for learning. And parents send their children to private schools for reasons other than educational achievement: to marinate their kids in a certain social set, say.

Genes cannot be wished away. As the Harvard geneticist David Reich said: “Well-meaning people who deny the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science.”

When it comes to gender, some sex differences are genetic; breasts and beards are not social constructs. It is harder to decide which sex differences in behaviour are derived from nature, but again the paradox of heritability provides a clue. Two psychologists last month published a paper showing that in countries where women are least discriminated against, women are most under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The percentage of STEM graduates who are female is twice as high in Turkey, Algeria and Tunisia as in Finland, Sweden and Norway. It appears that the more freedom girls have, the less likely they are to choose STEM subjects.

Today we rightly try to make sure that any differential outcomes by sex, race or education are not caused by discrimination. But the result is that we will maximise the contribution of innate preferences and abilities instead. A perfectly meritocratic society would be one in which people who went to Oxford were genetically, not socially, advantaged.


British taxpayers gave £20m to Palestinian schools which teach children that martyrdom and jihad are 'the most important meanings in life'

A government minister has admitted that more than £20 million of British aid money is being spent on schools in Palestine that teach children about jihad and martyrdom.

A report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education reveals that the Palestinian Authority school curriculum 'utilizes a variety of tools to convince children—mostly boys—to risk their lives and die as martyrs'. 

Alistair Burt, the aid minister, admitted in parliamentary answers that British taxpayers are funding the salaries of 33,000 teachers who follow the curriculum that also promotes violence against Israel.

The report also revealed that the word Israel 'typically appears as the Zionist Occupation' throughout the curriculum which has been accused of exerting pressure on young Palestinians to be martyrs.

A science textbook Newton's second law of physics by using an image of a boy with a slingshot targeting soldiers, to explain power, mass, and tensile strength.

It reads: 'Palestinian youths used slingshots to confront the soldiers of the Zionist occupation and defend themselves from their treacherous bullets. What is the relationship between the elongation of the slingshot's rubber and the tensile strength affecting it?'

Meanwhile, a maths book for nine-year-old students teaches them to count up and work out the number of Palestinian martyrs.

Another textbook encourages nine-year-olds to be martyrs with a picture of students looking at an empty desk with the sign 'The Martyr'.

A poem in a history book also glorifies martyrdom and calls for violent resistance against Israel.

It reads: 'I vow I shall sacrifice my blood to saturate the land of the generous and will remove the usurper from my country.'

It also teaches that the families of terrorists will be rewarded in paradise. 

The shocking report concludes that radicalisation is 'more pervasive across this new curriculum' than the old one, which was also widely criticised.

The curriculum 'exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence in a more extensive and sophisticated manner'.  

According to the Times, minister Burt admitted 'all of their schools in the West Bank are using the revised 2017 PA curriculum. UK-funded public servants and teachers … are therefore involved'.

Joan Ryan, chairwoman of Labour Friends of Israel, told the Times that the situation is 'absolutely appalling'  as the curriculum promotes violence, terrorism and antisemitism.

She called on the government to suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority to be suspended.

Two days ago, at least 17 Palestinians were killed and 1,400 were left hurt during one of the largest Palestinian demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border in recent years.

The Department for International Development said: 'Our support is helping around 25,000 young Palestinians go to school each year. The UK government strongly condemns all forms of violence and incitement to violence.'

Last year, Mail on Sunday investigation found that 24 schools were named after Palestinian terrorists. Also discovered was evidence of widespread encouragement of violence against Israel by teachers, with terrorists routinely held up as heroes for schoolchildren.

Pictures of ‘martyrs’ were posted on school walls, revolutionary slogans and symbols were painted on premises used by youngsters, sports events were named after teenage terrorists and children were encouraged to act out shooting Israeli soldiers in plays.  

Head teachers openly admitted to flouting attempts by British and European donors to control the curriculum at schools. They revealed they printed overtly political study aids for pupils, some even denying the existence of Israel.


Australia: The poisonous Left once again trying to destroy good community relationships

A refugee family is outraged at a high school for making Year 12 students write essays and make videos on Muslim 'exclusion'.

Leumeah High School in Sydney's south-west is asking Society and Culture students to present a five-minute oral presentation on the 'social exclusion faced by people of Muslim faith in Australia'.

The Year 12 Higher School Certificate students are also required to explain 'the barriers' Muslims face in 'accessing socially-valued resources' in a YouTube video.

Yuhan Houth, who was born in a Thai refugee camp after his parents escaped Pol Pot's murderous regime in Cambodia, said he regretted recommending that school for his younger brother, who turns 16 this year.

The 32-year-old welder said the assessment task was based on a leading question rather than an analysis of facts.

'From what I see here, I wouldn't call it propaganda but you can't really call it anything else,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Tuesday. 'I see it as indoctrinating them young.

'I would have thought examinations would be more concerned about empirical things, objective matter not subjectivity dressed up as an opinion piece.'

Mr Houth said the assessment topic also wrongly implied that immigrants weren't welcome in Australia.

'I'm more concerned about this particular narrative that's been perpetuated,' he said.

'I don't believe what they're demanding from the students is accurate of the reality of what the situation is.'

He said students doing the assessment were effectively being forced to give a set answer, as part of a presentation which must be recorded or uploaded to YouTube for the teacher.

'They would be obliged to give only the answers that they would be satisfied with in terms of any possible biases as opposed to just giving an honest opinion,' he said.

Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham said the school, in his old electorate of Werriwa, had forced students to argue a left-wing narrative that 'Muslims are hard done by because Australia is a racist nation'.

'Given the contentious nature of current political debates about Islam, the students have been placed in a difficult position,' he told his Facebook followers on Tuesday.

'If their YouTube videos are too soft or too hard on Islam they might face different types of backlash. I feel sorry for the students and families facing this conundrum.'

Mark Latham's social media followers were also outraged. 'Islamic indoctrination by the left and the education system,' one man  wrote. 'My god, we are seriously losing the country.'

One woman said it was outrageous students were taught Muslims weren't welcome in Australia. 'Simply outraged. Muslims have been welcomed into this country for decades,' she said. 'They have the same chances and opportunities as all others, in some cases more than people born here.'

Another woman suggested students were being groomed to hate Australia. 'These kids are being groomed and brainwashed in Islamics and sharia law,' she said.

'No, this is wrong. Politics should be kept out of schools.'

Daily Mail Australia contacted school principal Paul Zielinski and New South Wales Education Minister Rob Stokes for comment.


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