Letter about IQ and my education


In retrospect the ruin of my education and subsequent life seems fairly inevitable. According to the old-fashioned concept of IQ, mental age increases at the same ratio to chronological age, so if you start by being very precocious the gap between the age at which it is natural for you to do certain things and the average age for doing them, is constantly widening. To make matters worse, the permanent adult mental age is reached later than average in the case of higher IQs, and earlier than average in the case of lower ones. So an adult with a very high IQ is even more different from other adults than the IQ ratio taken on its own would suggest.


It follows that I was going to have a pretty terrible time of it unless I could get educational opportunities geared to my own rate of development. Otherwise the increasing distortion of being held back would work against me, as it did. Precocity arouses hostility, and no one was likely to advise my parents to take care to educate me in accordance with my mental, and not chronological age. So I would only have had a real chance in life if my parents had been prepared to incur head-on social opposition by taking my own wishes seriously.


I cannot imagine them doing this. No doubt it seemed easier to go along with social acceptability, and inhibit my progress as much as possible, so that I would appear as ordinary as possible. The School Certificate exam seemed to be a crucial issue, but in fact the forces of oppression had always been there, and would have continued to be there. In planning for a record-breaking run of exam-taking, of which the School Certificate was to be only the first, I was not taking into account the opposition which I was likely to encounter, even at the convent.


Really it was just that the convent, with its relative permissiveness, had given me an opportunity to break out of the oppression which had weighed upon my earlier life. If I had taken it, no doubt the way ahead would have been more contested than I anticipated. However, taking that one first step successfully might have been enough to save my ultimate academic career, since it took an immense pile of negative factors to erode the safety margin to the extent necessary to deprive me of it altogether.


Even at the time I thought my father proceeded most unwisely, going around alerting everyone to my intentions and to the likelihood of my spectacular success, as if seeking reassurance. If you did that, I thought, you were setting up opposition for the future and you could not afford not to clinch the advantage in prospect, having stirred up in advance the hostility that would inevitably have been aroused if it were a fait accompli.