Vox Day on Christopher M. Langan’s thoughts on the current (and past) state of education and the plight of the “gifted.”
Chris Langan, who is a) a lot smarter than I am, b) definitely UHIQ, and c) may in fact qualify for an entirely different category of intelligence, rightly condemns the modern system of education as a massive waste. And worse, an institution literally designed to cripple the most intelligent students subjected to it.
Owing to the shape of a bell curve, the education system is geared to the mean. Unfortunately, that kind of education is virtually calculated to bore and alienate gifted minds. But instead of making exceptions where it would do the most good, the educational bureaucracy often prefers not to be bothered.
In my case, for example, much of the schooling to which I was subjected was probably worse than nothing. It consisted not of real education, but of repetition and oppressive socialization (entirely superfluous given the dose of oppression I was getting away from school). Had I been left alone, preferably with access to a good library and a minimal amount of high-quality instruction, I would at least have been free to learn without useless distractions and gratuitous indoctrination. But alas, no such luck.
While my own background is rather exceptional, it is far from unique. Many young people are affected by one or more of the same general problems experienced by my brothers and me. A rising number of families have severe financial problems, forcing educational concerns to take a back seat to food, shelter, and clothing on the list of priorities. Even in well-off families, children can be starved of parental guidance due to stress, distraction, or irresponsibility. If a mind is truly a terrible thing to waste, then the waste is proportional to mental potential; one might therefore expect that the education system would be quick to help extremely bright youngsters who have it rough at home. But if so, one would be wrong a good part of the time.
Let’s try to break the problem down a bit. The education system is subject to a psychometric paradox: on one hand, it relies by necessity on the standardized testing of intellectual achievement and potential, including general intelligence or IQ, while on the other hand, it is committed to a warm and fuzzy but scientifically counterfactual form of egalitarianism which attributes all intellectual differences to environmental factors rather than biology, implying that the so-called “gifted” are just pampered brats who, unless their parents can afford private schooling, should atone for their undeserved good fortune by staying behind and enriching the classroom environments of less privileged students.
This approach may appear admirable, but its effects on our educational and intellectual standards, and all that depends on them, have already proven to be overwhelmingly negative. This clearly betrays an ulterior motive, suggesting that it has more to do with social engineering than education. There is an obvious difference between saying that poor students have all of the human dignity and basic rights of better students, and saying that there are no inherent educationally and socially relevant differences among students. The first statement makes sense, while the second does not.
The gifted population accounts for a very large part of the world’s intellectual resources. As such, they can obviously be put to better use than smoothing the ruffled feathers of average or below-average students and their parents by decorating classroom environments which prevent the gifted from learning at their natural pace. The higher we go on the scale of intellectual brilliance – and we’re not necessarily talking just about IQ – the less support is offered by the education system, yet the more likely are conceptual syntheses and grand intellectual achievements of the kind seldom produced by any group of markedly less intelligent people. In some cases, the education system is discouraging or blocking such achievements, and thus cheating humanity of their benefits.
Some schools, even of the government variety, do a very good job with actual knowledge installation and instruction. Other times, advanced students will learn regardless of the circumstances (really that happens at all times, though not always with visible “academic” results). But, in a system of “schools” which more resemble prisons than the old academy, it’s usually the kids with the most potential who suffer the most from the dumb-it-down/security complex.
It used to get better when the bright young adult reached college – for some it still does. But with our universities increasingly becoming overly-expensive extensions of the lower indoctrination program, hope fades there too. The example de jure: Duke University (or is it Duchess University??) continues the war on males in education.
And these are the overt issues, caused by a host of underlying problems in society, both political and cultural. If you have a child, especially a bright child,these are all things to consider carefully. Do that.
More money! More testing! Sutori.