A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Asus Eee PC!!
Previous entry: Home-schooling at Samizdata
Sunday February 10 2008

Do you have to be educated, and in particular highly qualified, to get ahead in the world today?  Some interesting reflections by BGC in a comment on this:

The more I look into it, the more it seems that the most parsimonious explanation of educational differentials in modernizing societies is that both education and signalling are less important than we realize; and that IQ is the major factor with personality/temperament as an important secondary factor.

To parody, IQ and temperament are destiny (with a high IQ and a conscientious temperament being optimal on average for both status and income). Several longitudinal IQ studies have shown near-perfect social mobility with respect to IQ (ie. poor kids with IQ rise to the level predicted by their IQ; rich kinds with low IQ fall).

The picture is modified by the fact that IQ is substantially inherited, and that there are big average IQ differences between social classes.

IQ and temperament predict educational attainment - however, of course, educational credentials are also vital, and add noise to this correlation (no matter how clever and hardworking you are, you can’t be a doctor without a degree - but you could still become an entrepreneur).

In the long term, as psychometric testing improves or is all-but replaced by genetic testing - and when the relatively modest effects of education become established - it may be that the amount of time spent in full time education will begin to diminish, and will become much more focused.

We can dream.  I agree that intelligence and temperament are both very important, but believe that education, truly understood, is also crucial, rather as you need an acorn and a friendly environment to make an oak tree.  Remove either, and it’s no oak tree.

But that doesn’t mean that the right environment for clever people with a good temperament is necessarily “education”, as commonly understood now.  Doesn’t education, done well, make your “temperament” better?

All of which is a bit beside the point that the original posting was making, which was a rather intriguing conjecture about how more education, as commonly understood, reduces inflation.  Which is a new idea to me.