Sunday, May 20, 2007

The social mobility myth - part 2

There is an article in The Sunday Telegraph which explores the point I was making earlier in the week on social mobility. Its worth reading in its entirety ( sorry I can't identify the author to credit ), but I leave a few quotes below (highlighting with underlining is mine):

    Most people would probably share Mr Willetts' two assumptions. They certainly now amount to the orthodox view within much of academic sociology, which has for decades taken it for granted that differences in achievement between individuals and groups must be explained by some form of social injustice: if society were completely fair, so the orthodoxy goes, there would be no differences in what people were capable of achieving.

    There is, however, an increasing amount of evidence that this is not true. "Just about all the research that has been done on this topic demonstrates that intelligence is not randomly distributed across society," says Ben Sacks, a former professor of psychiatry at Charing Cross Hospital. "Intelligent, well-educated women tend to marry intelligent, well-educated men, and they tend to have intelligent children who end up being well-educated.

And latter on ...

    So as a society comes to the egalitarian ideal of treating everyone equally, it will not see social mobility increase: on the contrary, social mobility will decrease. One consequence is that decline in social mobility could be an indicator of a fairer, more just society.

Now I've missed out a lot of the argument presented. Of especial interest is how social mobility is measured and the underlying assumptions.

But now let me add something - if all this is true, and I think it is - then the measure being proposed to create social mobility will be anti-meritocratic ! In effect a sort of educational 'A' list will be created where those who will win will be decided before the process is started, and many deserving and capable people (ie the children of the middle class) will have their life chances ruined in the name of political correctness.

Also those uplifted children will never know if they really had merit or not. To be sure a non-objective system run by the educational establishment can be guaranteed to be politically correct - ie discriminatory.

David Willetts and David Cameron are betraying peoples children - other peoples children they perhaps reassure themselves. So perhaps they don't care, as long as this gets them what they want ( I suspect that's a bit harsh on David Willetts - but no more so than the spin being used against those in the party that wanted this thought through and agreed.). David Cameron's attempt to bounce the party and then insult its membership by talking about the "shallow end" of the educational debate is equally unimpressive. My opinion of them has suffered considerably over the last week.

Update: Nadine Dorries has been in great form this week - see her last post here on the subject of the education policy announcements.

Also see this article in The Daily Telegraph on the abilities of students and their social backgrounds.

1 comment:

james higham said...

Underneath all this, hovering about like a shark in the shallows, is the notion that the unequal must be forcibly made equal.