With on-going shifts in economic power from West to East, an
interesting topic of research and debate concerns the long-term potential of the next generation around the world and in particular: what is the IQ potential of the populations of the two biggest countries, China and India?  Without doubt, British Indians seem to gain higher grades on average than their ‘white’ British counterparts. And it is a well known fact that the Chinese in the UK are more diligent at school.  We put this down to cross-cultural differences within the family in a UK environment. But what about around the world – how smart are Chinese and Indians in their home countries compared to the rest of the world?

India I.Q, again

I recently came across an article by Steve Sailer discussing this question which was based on research by Lynn and Vanhanen in their study of IQ and the Wealth of Nations. Although Sailer conscientiously debates the issues, what caught my attention was this rhetorical question:

British school tests have a huge gender gap, with girls badly outperforming boys within each racial group. I don’t know whether there’s something wrong with the tests or with boys in Britain.

Sailer, unknowingly, has hit the nail right on the head with the very question those of us involved in education have been asking ourselves for years. Why do girls in the UK do better?  And, why does the UK have such a large group (mostly boys) of disaffected youth with no interest in education?  Interestingly, Carol Vordeman, a well-known, mathematically-savvy, British TV presenter was interviewed on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning to discuss her recent work on surveying why British kids do so badly at maths. Listen to the interview.

I recently found myself working with a young British woman whose husband (Danish) was astounded to hear on the radio about the percentage of illiterate children that enter UK secondary schools (aged 11).  He was so shocked he automatically asked: “Why have you got children who can’t read and write?’  The Danes, as with other Scandinavian countries , aer among the most literate in the world. I hope someone in the UK will eventually twig that our poor performance in education is largely due to the culture we have allowed to develop. Culture is so deeply ingrained in us that it permeates every fibre of the society we live in – and influences how we think, feel and behave.

What a poor indictment of the UK’s future potential if we cannot motivate our youngsters to do better.

Sri Lanka: maths is fun

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, is doing all in its power to raise the mathematical standards of its population and annually holds the Sri Lankan Mathematical Senior Olympiad to discover mathematical talent in the country and nurture them; to send a team to International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO).  Take a look at the 2011 Poster for the event and how it cleverly asks a question about cricket scoring.

One blogger, sbarrkum, in discussing the perennially competitive question of who’s beating whom: the Sri Lnkans or Indians, states:

One must keep in mind that the Math Olympiad is about selecting the best in a country. The National IQ measure is for the country as an whole. India with half its population being illiterate still has an IQ quotient comparable to Sri Lanka. Does that mean Sri Lankans are not as smart as we think or they are just smart alecs who cant be bothered with IQ tests.

You can find out your countries results and ranking for 2011 at the IMO official website

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 8th, 2011 at 3:10 pm and is filed under cross-cultural differences, General, other interesting stuff, social practices . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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