The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Letters

October 18, 2012

IQ scores

IQ scores have been increasing since the beginning of the 20th century, said James R. Flynn of the University of Otago in New Zealand. Nearly 30 years of follow-up studies have confirmed the effect and scores are still climbing. Some feel it's all about school. As recently as the beginning of the 20th century, most Americans spent no more than seven years in school. Today about half of all adults have had at least some tertiary education.

The interesting thing is, the scores on such subjects as vocabulary and arithmetic have changed little while tests of a child's conceptual capabilities in subjects such as abstract thinking and similarities have shot up. Some see the need for multi-tasking in video games, and even some television may provide training in problem solving skills needed for IQ tests.

Improved childhood nutrition, universal education, smaller families and the influence of educated mothers may be some of the causes. With the industrial revolution, technical and managerial jobs replaced some agricultural ones. New professional classes have emerged; engineers, scientists, electricians, industrial architects and many more all demanding a mastery of abstract principles.

For a glimpse of our nation's future, pay a visit to Seattle and Salt Lake City. Seattle, a highly-educated city, has "45 percent more dogs than children". Traditional Salt Lake has "19 percent more kids than dogs". He believes fertility is highly correlated to political and religious beliefs. The more progressive and secular you are, the less likely you are to have a big family; the more conservative and religious you are, the bigger the family.

It's a frightening pattern, found throughout the U.S. and much of Europe. It will have a profound impact on what kind of a society we leave for out ancestors. It would appear we are doomed, however, if we can insist on a more open education where learning is not stymied by the repetition of dogma and myth, but where imagination, originality, invention, creativity, and critical thinking are encouraged, we just might make it.

Carlyle W. Westlund,

Middleburg

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