Saturday, November 26, 2016

Shooting at the wrong target: Education and child abuse

If I got a woman carrying two identical twins, took her babies from her immediately after birth, and then had them both brought up in two separate families....what would the outcome be, for if one family was right into schooling and extracurricular activities, and the other family was totally complacent and never made their child do homework?

In the short term (and this is based on many identical twin studies) the child being pushed to achieve would not only do better at school, they would also measure a higher IQ as compared to the child that grows up in the relaxed family.

But here's the surprise. The difference, as time goes on, progressively disappears and to the point where there's virtually no difference in measured intelligence and school performance between the two children. They will be pretty much equal by the time they're sixteen and older.

So what does that prove? It proves that all that preoccupation with early scholastic achievement doesn't mean much. Because the child who grows up in the relaxed family will have no difficulty mastering academia at a later time, for when life demands that they do.

Research on identical twin studies has shown that there are actually only two things that really matter, that do affect final outcomes. They are genes and child abuse. In other words you can't make your child brilliant, as that is in the genes, but you can certainly screw them up. You can't make them - but you can break them.

So why then are we as a society so obsessed with educational achievement, and not child abuse, and in a society where child abuse is light years from uncommon? A major part of the reason of course is ignorance.

The great assumption is that education makes the man. No it doesn't. A person with a healthy mind and a strong intellect will always learn what they need to learn, to be masterful in good time. And as every practical person knows, there's no need to institutionalise the learning process to achieve that end.

Note: Institutional learning as we know it (schooling) was invented 200 years ago in Prussia, with the shamelessly expressed purpose of creating obedient military personnel. Our ancient schooling system is (and probably still is!) really just adjustment to subordination.

But then why do employers demand formally educated employees, for if the skills as provided by schooling are, usually, not even relevant to the job?

Because employers know that people who have succeeded in school typically make better workers than those who didn't. That's all they know and that's all they need to know. They don't need to know why they make better workers - they only need to know that they do.

But we, as a society, need to know.

The real reason why people with an education make better workers is not because they've learnt something good, but because they've demonstrated other *inherent* characteristics through their ability to tolerate their courses. They've proven that they're not stupid, have self-discipline, dedication, and are ambitious, etc. Characteristics that are essential for being a good employee in the modern workforce, in particular for jobs with responsibility.

To a large degree, this is what the education game is all about. It's about screening for characteristics that are already there. Education as we know it is mostly a testing system, not a human development system. It does not make people motivated - it tests for a motivation that was already there. And indeed, this is exactly why we had the old school certificate system from the past, whereby we failed half the country and only because the other half did better. Again it was always about screening people - not educating them.

So shouldn't we, as a society, not be targeting educational achievement in itself, but instead shooting for the characteristics behind the education that are what modern employers want?

Yes! Because if you manage to pull off some funky tricks and get everyone to finish highschool, and more, but you *don't* improve those all-important characteristics that employers really want, then the superficiality of schooling--and the non-achievement of what we thought was achievement--will become plain. And it will become plain the hard way.

You will have a society full of "highly qualified" people who will still be unemployable, because they will *still* possess those characteristics born out of child abuse and low intelligence. Rather than bringing those students up, you will simply bring the measuring stick of educational achievement down.

Hence, pushing for greater educational achievement yet without cutting back on child abuse, will come down to a glorious waste of time and effort. And all coming from a great false assumption - the assumption that education, in itself, means so much.

What means so much is protecting children from abuse so that their neurological hardware develops properly. This is what's real, and this is the reality that will have the final say with respect to social and economic outcomes.

So please let's stop obsessing over driving everyone through university, and instead start focusing on proper childcare for when it matters the most. And that starts from conception, birth, and infancy most of all, and then the first 5 years of life especially.