"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, August 9, 2013

Human Nature Is What It Is

I have written here before about the great unmentionable fact of American society, the fact that no politicians want to face -- that 50% of Americans have an IQ that is 100 or below.   By definition.   Not something that throwing money at the problem will change.   That 16% or so have an IQ at or below 85.   Fact.   Can't be changed.   Conversely that roughly 16% have IQs above 115,  and only 2.5% or so have IQs above 130, and those people will generally (not always, but statistically) end up being the most productive citizens, the people who support the rest by of us providing jobs, goods, services, etc.  

How do we provide a dignified life for the people in the low-IQ categories?   How do we educate them?   How do we create a society where they can live safely (and where society can maintain order, i.e., where we can be safe from predations from low-IQ criminals).   How do we create a society where the high-IQ citizens are rewarded for the benefit they create for the rest of us while controlling the natural impulse of the strong to prey upon the weak?  

None of this is very pleasant to think about or write about or talk about, and it's likely that if a politican started talking about this sort of thing, even the most lawyer-vetted, careful, politically-correct speech would end up offending people.   Because racist.   Because anti-immigrant.   Because mean-spirited.

Anyway, I was reminded of these sad thoughts by reading this sad item from Instapundit from a teacher in apparently an urban public school.   It's hard not to despair:

A school in which I used to teach was failing. Is failing. Has always failed. Our staff was more than 50% non-traditional teachers. We had a strong core of Teach For America and Teaching Fellows – neither of which pull in your regular “he who can’t? Teaches” anecdotes. Most of us were “wanting to help where we can” folks. 
We couldn’t make a dent in that school. 
The only reason that the 60% of the kids who bothered to show up daily even came to school was for the 2 free meals and the climate control. We needed a force of 15 security people to keep the kids IN CLASS. They had no desire to learn. They did not CARE if they failed. I never, ever had kids who started at my school as 9th graders and had enough credits to be juniors by their third year. Most didn’t even have enough credits to be sophomores. And this was when summer school was free! 
Most of my 33 student classes had a regular showing of about 20-25, and it was never the same kids. 
Those that did come were usually passed up to their current grade based on age – after all, who wants a 16-year-old boy in classes with an 11-year-old girl? No one. And we can’t just stop them all in 9th grade! Why, it would be full! So, I had kids who read at 2nd grade level to 11th grade level, with math scores in the same range. All in the same classroom. About 60% of the time. 
Now, there were the other issues. I didn’t see them in my room, but we did have some mongo fights in the school. We had fires (never had to have drills because we had fires). Anything we didn’t have nailed down got stolen. But that’s all secondary. Mostly, I liked my kids a lot. I got along with them very well. I even taught some pretty good science when I had seniors – kids who had cared enough to slog through 4 years of prison-without-bars, as they called it. 
The primary issue is that these children (and their parents) have no vested interest in education. If they merely showed up to school, I was required to pass them. The D’s in my class were really F’s, but I gave them D’s because they showed up enough that I knew failing them would do them no good and would only get me in a world of trouble. 
They look at school as something that is done to them. Something that they are subjected to. Sure, all kids kind of view school like that. But when the family is not saying that it’s their job, when they simply don’t see that school gets them anything? There will be no successful school with these children.

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