A Modest Educational Proposal

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Fellow humans, we have a problem. (And another problem.)

At least, this looks like a problem to me., especially when I’m trying to make conversation at the local moms group.

There are many potential reasons the data looks like this (including inaccuracy, though my lived experience says it is accurate.) Our culture encourages people to limit their fertility, and smart women are especially so encouraged. Smart people are also better at long-term planning and doing things like “reading the instructions on the birth control.”

But it seems likely that there is another factor, an arrow of causation pointing in the other direction: smart people tend to stay in school for longer, and people dislike having children while they are still in school. While you are in school, you are in some sense still a child, and we have a notion that children shouldn’t beget children.

Isaac Newton. Never married. Probably a virgin.

People who drop out of school and start having children at 16 tend not to be very smart and also tend to have plenty of children during their child-creating years. People who pursue post-docs into their thirties tend to be very smart–and many of them are virgins.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I kind of like having smart people around, especially the kinds of people who invent refrigerators and make supply chains work so I can enjoy eating food, even though I live in a city, far from any farms. I don’t want to live in a world where IQ is crashing and we can no longer maintain complex technological systems.

We need to completely re-think this system where the smarter you are, the longer you are expected to stay in school, accruing debt and not having children.

Proposal one: Accelerated college for bright students. Let any student who can do college-level work begin college level work for college credits, even if they are still in high (or middle) school. There are plenty of bright students out there who could be completing their degrees by 18.

The entirely framework of schooling probably ought to be sped up in a variety of ways, especially for bright students. The current framework often reflects the order in which various discoveries were made, rather than the age at which students are capable of learning the material. For example, negative numbers are apparently not introduced in the math curriculum until 6th grade, even though, in my experience, even kindergarteners are perfectly capable of understanding the concept of “debt.” If I promise to give you one apple tomorrow, then I have “negative one apple.” There is no need to hide the concept of negatives for 6 years.

Proposal two: More apprenticeship.

In addition to being costly and time-consuming, a college degree doesn’t even guarantee that your chosen field will still be hiring when you graduate. (I know people with STEM degrees who graduated right as the dot.com bubble burst. Ouch.) We essentially want our educational system to turn out people who are highly skilled at highly specialized trades, and capable of turning around and becoming highly skilled at another highly specialized trade on a dime if that doesn’t work out. This leads to chemists returning to university to get law degrees; physicists to go back for medical degrees. We want students to have both “broad educations” so they can get hired anywhere, and “deep educations” so they’ll actually be good at their jobs.

Imagine, instead, a system where highschool students are allowed to take a two-year course in preparation for a particular field, at the end of which high performers are accepted into an apprenticeship program where the continue learning on the job. At worst, these students would have a degree, income, and job experience by the age of 20, even if they decided they now wanted to switch professions or pursue an independent education.

Proposal three: Make childbearing normal for adult students.

There’s no reason college students can’t get married and have children (aside from, obviously, their lack of jobs and income.) College is not more time consuming or physically taxing than regular jobs, and college campuses tend to be pretty pleasant places. Studying while pregnant isn’t any more difficult than working while pregnant.

Grad students, in particular, are old and mature enough to get married and start families, and society should encourage them to do so.

Proposal four: stop denigrating child-rearing, especially for intelligent women.

Children are a lot of work, but they’re also fun. I love being with my kids. They are my family and an endless source of happiness.

What people want and value, they will generally strive to obtain.

 

These are just some ideas. What are yours?

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30 thoughts on “A Modest Educational Proposal

  1. Here’s my proposal: how about we went back to the old and tried system whereby smart women married smart men and didn’t pursue an higher education but stayed home? We know it worked. That’s how we got the industrial revolution.

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    • Aside from the anomalous post-WWII period, that was when most of the population was engaged in farming, and women contributed significantly to the economic production of farm families by weaving, sewing clothes, preserving food, etc. In our modern economy, most economic activity is done outside the home. This creates a strong incentive for families to increase their incomes via extra-household female labor. (Which in turn increases the size of the labor market, driving down wages, making the men’s income lower and driving more women into the workforce.) It’s a nasty cycle, but without some sort of increase in median wages, I don’t see it ending.

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      • I was thinking about middle and upper class women who are most likely to have above average IQs.
        They could leave the work-force in great numbers thus driving wages up for men. And girls should abstain from pursuing higher education and careers. I don’t see any other way out.
        But women are still in denial about their role in our current mess.

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      • There are women in careers who’d be better off at home.

        But in general, I think most women are pretty conformist and go along with what their husbands want and parents tell them. Parents say “Go to school,” so they do. Men say, “I don’t want to get married; I don’t want to have kids,” so they don’t.

        If you want change, IMO, it has to come from the men first.

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      • This is at @BB753, because I can’t reply directly to his post.

        BB753, any girl abstaining from pursuing higher education will end with access to lower-quality mates (because high-quality male mates would presumably pursue higher education). This means any single girl voluntarily deciding to opt out of the system would be a loser. A collective action when, say, males would stop dating “sluts” or females would stop going to college is not just hard, is outright impossible.

        Everyone is in denial about their role in current mess, including males; For example, why not blame high quality males (“alphas”)? After all, they could simply decide not to f* around and just pickly quickly choose chaste females. That would make other women more willing to settle early (because high quality males woudl quickly be taken) and, moreover, settle for “betas”. Would you say “alpha males are still in denial about their role in out current mess”?

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      • I keep telling my cousin to settle down, marry his girlfriend, and start having children, but he says things like “Oh, I’m not ready for that,” or “I don’t want a woman dependent on me,” or “Kids are too expensive. Maybe I’ll have one when I’m 40.”

        Meanwhile my poor relatives are, well, actually poor.

        I’m the only person in this whole darn family who’s going to reproduce.

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      • I haven’t directly tried to pressure any of my cousins. There’s an odd thing I’ve noticed. I’m about halfway in age among cousins on both sides of the family. All of my cousins on both sides who are older than me have kids (well, the surviving ones. Drugs, as they say, are bad.) but of the younger ones, on one side, I’m the youngest with any kids, even though I have four cousins over 30, 3 of whom are married or have been married at some point since they were 30, and on the other side, the only cousin who doesn’t yet have kids is well under 30 still, and 3 of the 4 with kids started before they were 30. It will probably not come as a surprise when I say that the latter are from low cost “flyover” states, and the former are from the east and west coast… Not sure if there’s a big Gen X vs Millennial difference more generally regarding this kind of thing…

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    • Your proposal is completely unrealistic. The system incentives certain behaviors and yet you blame the actors, instead of the system. To make women stay home, you would have to introduce MASSIVE changes. Evolutiontheorist is absolutely right when saying that capitalism put a pressure in which families prefer to have another source of income. Another thing is that women WANT to have independent source of income.

      You jsut can’t declare “past was beautiful, let’s go back to it”.

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  2. It’s probably not politically feasible, but what about per child incentives for females who score 30 or above on the ACT? Right now we are paying tens of millions of low IQ women to have low IQ children. Why not spread some of that around to the smarter women?

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    • I suspect that poor people are incentivised by much smaller sums of money than well-off people (and smart people tend to be well-off,) so you’d need a program orders of magnitude bigger.

      I think what you really need is people who want more of themselves to exist.

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  3. Ah, yes… Contraception as IQ test. It’s a low bar, but an effective one. And by the time it dawns on a woman that the ‘fulfilling career’ isn’t, her fertility is gone. Plus I hear rumors that the HPV vaccine has caused reduced fertility as well.

    And then there are plethora of unwise yet promoted behaviors that lead to dysgenic matches.

    I am feeling somewhat pessimistic at this time.

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  4. All good places to start from.

    I think the education system needs a much more thorough burn than this however. Something like only 10% of middle schoolers going to high school, 10% of high schooler going on to any college, and so on.

    Credentialism creep will never reverse. It can’t be reformed incrementally. It has to be slashed and burned.

    It is quite unfortunate, but I don’t see any real human progress happening until there is such a world wide culling of bloated structures and institutions.

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  5. Women could do kids 1st then college but then they wouldn’t have the high status life and years of college cock sampling when at their most attractive. Plus there are a shit ton of eccmoinc reasons folks are having small familes and you missed out on secular people have fewer kids BUT unpacking the cultural end alone would be a full time job.

    I have 4 kids. I don’t think most really smart people take the risks necessary to fund 4 kids. Most of the really smart folks I know and employ are risk averse.

    But at the end of the day we would have to “go backwards” in time, culture and economic thinking to make folks value themselves, their forefathers and their race enough to want more kids. Smart folks also seem most averse to the social norms and what not that produce strong healthy familes, tribes and propel

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  6. Great ideas. Here another: differentiate school starting age for boys and girls, possibly start sex-segregated classes. Girls typically mature faster, on average. On average, even optimal temperatures for the class is reported to be different for boys and girls. As an effect, you can have girls finishing schools earlier, and earlier interacting with older (and, presumably, more mature) boys, all leading to (hopefully) earlier marriage.

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    • I’ve been thinking for a long time that, at least for bright girls, forcing them to go at the pace of the school system as it is does them no favors. It doesn’t have to be sex-segregated school, just return to something like the one-room schoolhouse system where you move through as you learn the material. Let them take algebra in 6th grade if they’ve mastered arithmetic and pre-algebra, and, really, a lot of teenage girls would make really good lab assistants, and I’m not being sarcastic, since a lot basically are, but it’s for science fair projects, which anyone who’s actually looked will notice are mostly kids with connections working for free in a lab run by a friend of the family… (and people say standardized tests are discriminatory?…)

      As far as making it easier for college students to start families, I think a good model would actually be what they have for grad students at MIT: free daycare for kids of grad students, funded by one of the Koch brothers… It could be argued that maybe we should change modern society more fundamentally, but I think having kids in the first place does kind of change one’s outlook, so let’s not discourage it among the “best and brightest”? Combine this with a k-12 system (whether the public system, a major private system, or a large enough number of homeschoolers) that has women finishing their undergrad by age 20, and you’d start seeing a cohort of successful young people who already have children. (and, even if they only have, say, two children in their 20’s, it’s much easier to decide to have a third or even fourth ten years later if you had your first two in your early 20’s.)

      Just another thought: Everyone looks at the women in the past who pumped out 5 or 10 kids on an annual or biennial basis, but I think it’s also important to look at the ones who had 2 or 3, waited 5 or more years, then had another one or two, and even maybe another after another break. I’ve noticed this perfectionism in family planning: women who want all their children by age 30, or women who don’t want big age gaps between their kids, and this is really just as bad (if the goal is having women with planning capacity having more kids) as women putting off childbearing til it’s almost too late.

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    • Classical education combined homeschooling can speed up education rapidly. And it is well advised that women look for older more established men to provide.

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  7. I don’t think this can be solved through secular social engineering; it requires religious cultural structure. Orthodox Jewish communities are a perfect counterpoint to our secular errors, and can be instructive. High fecundity and, if not outright eugenic, not dysgenic (higher achieving Rabbis and businessmen tend to be higher status, but since lower-status members still have very high TFR, any effect will likely take multiple generations to be noticeable). In Orthodox Jewish communities, it is often the women who are primary earners (sometimes as childcare or teachers) while many of the men stay in school into their late 20s. In these communities, most of your suggestions can be observed. Secular higher education is often religious in nature (the humanities), but isn’t formally so. If we formalize our state religion, we can start creating honest rules regarding it.

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  8. I think that a lot of the problem is caused by government tinkering that is only really possible through debt- for example, expensive, prolonged college education for everyone, and the idea that social programs will care for you as you age rather than having good relationships with your children and family members. Maybe if there wasn’t the idea that you could fall back on these programs, people would be incentivized to make better personal decisions. The debt is unsustainable but I’m not counting on reality reasserting itself anytime soon. Other than that, trying to just get more truthful information out to people so that they can make informed choices might be the best we can do. I actually think Stefan Molyneux does a pretty good job on his show of walking people through the logic of when to have kids, when to work, and how to think about marriage. A lot of the common “wisdom” (which I also received and bought into while younger)- rely only on yourself, don’t worry about declining fertility or having children while older, etc- really can be easily picked apart by logic for those willing to listen. Most people ultimately want children and actually hearing alternative, rational arguments for how to best get what they want may have some effect. I’m not sure how best to get that information out, though. One thing I try to bring up whenever possible is stuff like, hey, think REAL hard about whether encouraging women to take on hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt to become, for example, doctors, that start finally working right when it’s now or never for having children, is a good idea… How do you feel, then, about the fact that more than half of med school students are now women, and what that might mean considering the above things? Society helps pay to educate these women as well- what about possible doctor shortages in the future as they take time off to have children? Most people I’m around have not even remotely considered an example like that (I hadn’t when I was looking at college), and hopefully thinking about that debt/time crunch in actual numbers gets through a little bit.

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    • This whole med school process really ought to be sped up. Let people major in medicine in college. Tack a year on if we have to, but let an undergrad degree be a functional medical degree and send them on to practice.

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  9. (Please note: I’m commenting from perspective of someone who will be heading off to college very soon and just recently graduated high school)

    I’d also like to add that college makes maintaining long term relationships that developed out of high school hard to maintain. Right after graduation my class had mass of break ups, as many couples who had been together for 3-4 years realized that they either wouldn’t be able to see eachother for a long time or the shear fact of separation drew out some previous weakness in the relationship. This leaves both males and females going to college mostly single. Which only puts off child bearing further into the future.

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    • I’ve often wondered what we might see if we had data that was more fine-grained at the high end for both education and intelligence than the more standard social surveys. Anecdotally, it seems like the women I know who went to more elite institutions tend to be more likely to be married with two or more kids and not working full time. Again, anecdotally, and my sample is almost certainly biased, since people tend to seek out similar people to hang out with. That said, I’d be interested to see if there’s a kind of a bump at the right tail of the bell curve in terms of women’s fertility. If I recall, there is a “bump” for more recent age cohorts for women with PhDs.

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  10. One reason people simply ignore is that high-achievers are just too picky.
    An uggo, with no emotional intelligence, but with a top degree and six figure salary will want the best of the best, and this might both prevent him of never finding it and never managing to get such high-spec girl.
    For women, they might as well be warned that their sexual value to men has nothing to do with college degrees, and that her hypergamy will choke herself the further up she goes.

    In the end, really, as we’re living in the age of immigration, no free system, guidelines and reforms can be made and only authoritarian enforcements would work:
    Successful people MUST have many children, non-successful are barred from having any.

    This might create a problem of a successful couple raising children they don’t want, but this is better than the current events, if you analyze every single angle and alternatives.

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    • I disagree. Ugly me with high salaries seem to marry just fine. Take Mark Zuckerberg, who has been married to his high-IQ but plain wife he met at Harvard for years; they have at least one kid. I don’t think Zuckerberg would have been content to marry a girl with no degree; in my own dating experience, degrees and credentials are something men care about.

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