Copy of a letter to a high-tech millionaire
I saw in The Times that you have expressed concern that more gifted individuals from state schools should be able to get to university. If you are really concerned that anyone with ability should get any opportunity to use it, that is the last thing that you should be worrying about. The universities are in a sad mess, and quite likely to ruin the prospects of anyone with real ability who does get into them. This is because for decades now their main object has been to promote an acceptable ideology at the expense of ability. At Oxford, standards have declined to an extraordinary extent in an attempt to make the university accessible to an ever higher percentage of people from state schools.
The state schools themselves are very far from producing a population of candidates that is competitive in terms of ability (and not merely attainment) with those from independent schools. This probably owes something to the fact that obliterating indications of differences in ability is a primary objective. On the principle that it is a lot easier to make everyone appear equally stupid than it is to make them appear equally clever, teaching methods (if you can call them that) are adopted which make it almost equally impossible for anyone to learn anything.
One consequence of this is that a significant proportion (naturally I do not have precise statistics) of those in the upper one or two percent of the population in terms of IQ, become disaffected and disconnected and leave school at the earliest possible opportunity, without making any attempt to get to university.
In addition to this, the very brightest are likely to be subjected to psychological campaigns designed to prevent them if possible from getting to university, as it is considered reprehensible that innate ability should increase the likelihood of a person's having a certain sort of career. So anyone who has been subjected to a state education is even more likely than the privately educated to enter on the assault course at a university with psychological problems which a university system is designed to exploit to the utmost.
If any of the associations such as Mensa or the National Association for Gifted Children were of any use, they would have campaigned long ago for legislation preventing anyone with an IQ over a certain level from attending a state school. In fact, so far as I know they have made no attempt to warn their membership of the serious dangers that involves.
What is actually needed is the setting up of independent schools (or possibly, even better, learning materials which can be used autonomously) and an independent university (at least one) which are not hostile to the needs of gifted individuals, as well as a supportive association for adults of high ability, whose problems are not necessarily solved by even the best of the very limited opportunities which the academic world has on offer, and who may indeed be cast adrift at the end with no access to a suitable career. Having a very high IQ myself, and considerable experience of the school and university system, you should employ me as an expert consultant with a six-figure salary, which would enable me to get on (at least on a minimal scale) with research and writing books, including books on education, which at present I am prevented from doing.
It is useless to try to promote the interests of gifted individuals from more or less disadvantaged backgrounds in a society which is basically hostile to there being such a thing as differences in ability at all. In such circumstances, evidence of ability will only arouse motivation to stamp out evidence of an unacceptable state of affairs.
A colleague of mine, taking an Open University degree in psychology, was recently sent as part of the course on child development a leaflet asserting unequivocally that there is no such thing as giftedness.
So far as I am concerned, this illustrates a lack of concern for objectivity which should be regarded as being at variance with academic standards. However, as in many other areas, academic standards are no longer concerned with what is actually the case (even if they ever were), but with what people of the right kind would like to think was the case.