Friday, 23 May 2008

IQ Tests for the working classes? Don't bother: they're all thick, claims academic.

Many were outraged this week when a leading academic stated that IQ and class are intimately linked: that possessing a low IQ predetermines your social grouping. And, to an extent, the man has a point. The majority of those in the working classes are part of this group because they, well, work: work in the sense of manual labour, be they painters or decorators or plumbers or builders or miners or chippies &c. &c. That is not to say that none of them possess exceptional intellects, and talents, and the ability to change entire societies through the power of written word or rhetoric. Two good examples are DH Lawrence and Margaret Thatcher. Cherie Blair, also. Laurie Lee. The list goes on. But they tend to be the exception, rather than the rule. The rule is, according to Aristotle, that each artisan possesses a specific talent (or what I suppose we would now call a 'vocational skill'); and therefore he is as much a master of that talent as a philosopher is master of mind. It should also be noted that the academic failed to point out that there are many amongst the upper classes who are intellectual voids: they are merely lucky enough to have been handed the key to the family fortune when they come of age. The middle and upper-middle classes seem to have got the best deal when the brains were handed out.

One of the key responses to this claim that intellect and class go hand in hand was that, most unfairly, people should be expected to 'know their place'. I don't see what is wrong in 'knowing one's place'. I'm not suggesting that we should return to some kind of pre-War utopia of Upstairs/Downstairs; but I feel that all this nonsense about 'equality' and 'diversity' has created such a sense of uncertainty for all social groups that no-one knows where they fit any longer. Not everyone is capable of greatness. Being told to 'live your dreams' is all very well and good, but I defy anyone with an IQ of 100 to become an astronaut, for example. It is a concrete fact that the lower the IQ, the smaller the life that one lives. One's life is confined predominantly to one's house,school, shops, family, pub, and holiday destination. As the IQ grows, so does the mind's potential to see beyond narrow geographical constraints and to look upon the infinite: the bigger picture, as it were. 

To encourage children to believe that they can do anything if they put their mind to it is clearly unfair. It would be a lot more useful to properly drill all children in the use of the three Rs, so that they have some prospect of doing well in the outside world, and to push those with true academic potential into higher education; to bring back proper apprenticeships and scrap noddy degrees in Soap Operas at third rate universities. Intelligence is becoming ever-more devalued under this Government; it is being employed only as a tool to make money, rather than being celebrated for its own sake.

Intelligence is not based upon a privileged upbringing: it is innate. Intellectual achievement, on the other hand, is certainly based upon a good system of education in which a child can realistically achieve its potential, without giving it goals and aspirations that it can never possibly reach, and leaving it miserable and discontented in adult life. Godwin famously remarked that discrimination on any grounds except for ability was intolerable: it is time for us to do away with so-called 'equality' and replace it with good, hard, common-sense.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison