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Education

Spoiler Alert: Smart Kids Become Successful Adults 256

Posted by Soulskill
from the revenge-of-the-nerds dept.
itwbennett writes "Researchers from the University of Edinburgh set out to test the long-held assumption that kids who performed well in school at a young age carried that early success through to adulthood. And prove it they did! Specifically, 'Math and reading ability at age 7 may be linked with socioeconomic status several decades later.' Early success even correlates 'over and above associations with intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status in childhood.'"
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Spoiler Alert: Smart Kids Become Successful Adults

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  • Correlations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:31PM (#43687555)
    Also correlated:

    Math and reading ability at age 7 and socioeconomic status of the parents.

    Socioeconomic status and socioeconomic status of the parents.

    So has this study really shown anything other than the transitive property [wikipedia.org]?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      Open articles.
      Ctrl-F "Controling"
      No results.
      Close tab.

      Nothing of value.

      (They did start another study for control for genetic factors, but those aren't the most important)

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:39PM (#43687685)

        Well if you are expecting to find a word that you didn't even spell right you might as well just skip the first four steps and go straight to "nothing of value"...

        • Oh, well the truth is I got as far as "contr" before finding nothing(save for the one reference).

          • Re:Correlations (Score:5, Interesting)

            by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:19PM (#43688097) Journal
            Although the third-party blurb suggests some interesting conjectures, the article itself is hidden behind a paywall [sagepub.com]. It's hardly worth speculating on its content or statistical robustness or experimental rigor - other than noting that the social sciences tend to be less robust in their methods and mathematics than the physical sciences and engineering.
        • by jon3k (691256) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:59PM (#43687925)
          The best part is his username. Really makes the whole thing that much more hilarious.
      • Re:Correlations (Score:5, Informative)

        by robbyjo (315601) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:27PM (#43688191) Homepage

        > Open articles. Ctrl-F "Controling" No results. Close tab. Nothing of value.

        It does. It is abbreviated as "RGSC" on the article [sagepub.com]. Look at Figure 2 to see the model graphically and you see that RGSC is featured prominently on the top. Also, if you look at Table 2, the authors acknowledge the link between SES of origin AND math / reading abilities. But this paper shows that the math & reading abilities at 7 years old do predict mid-life SES above AND beyond the SES of origin.

      • Re:Correlations (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ioldanach (88584) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:37PM (#43688291)

        Open articles. Ctrl-F "Controling" No results. Close tab.

        Nothing of value.

        (They did start another study for control for genetic factors, but those aren't the most important)

        Article says

        The long-term associations held even after the researchers took other common factors into account. "These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life," say Ritchie and Bates.

        Which implies that they controlled for socioeconomic status. However, the actual paper appears to be behind a paywall. Therefore I don't know what's in it, beyond what this article tells me.

      • You didn't have to search, you only had to read the second sentence of the article.

        Your post had nothing of value.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)

      'over and above associations with intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status in childhood

      Sounds like even when accounting their socioeconomic status when they were a child, having good grades was still a really good indicator. However, there still is a big problem with kids in lower socioeconomic status obtaining higher grades, those that are able to seem to do better later in life.

      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:58PM (#43688481)

        However, there still is a big problem with kids in lower socioeconomic status obtaining higher grades

        Not at all. There is a problem with how society teaches kids, and it's just the case that some richer parents can overcome this handicap for their children.

        I was homeschooled at an early age. As part of that I did a number of things with groups of other homeschooled kids. Many of the parents were poor (my own included). But because schooling at home is so much more productive and meaningful most of the children did really well, and all of the ones I kept in contact with have done well later in life also.

        There is no problem being poor and being able to learn. Kids can learn in so many ways, many of them costing nothing or being free. You simply have to get out of the way and enable the spirit of exploration which is natural, instead of trying to crush it via conformity.

    • Re:Correlations (Score:5, Informative)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:39PM (#43687673)

      From TFA:

      The long-term associations held even after the researchers took other common factors into account.

      "These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life," say Ritchie and Bates.

      So, assuming they did their research right, nope. The results have little or nothing to do with the socioeconomic status of the parents.

    • I'm a bit doubtful that those are correlated. I think that higher socioeconomic status of the parents has an equal chance in resulting in spoiled brat syndrome. That, and most people with wealth weren't born into wealth.

      http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/most-wealthy-individuals-earned-not-inherited-their-wealth/ [consumeris...entary.com]

      The only potential correlation I could see would be that those in private schools do better than in public schools. Private schools aren't as heavily bogged down by unions and politicians which al

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Your parents were rich, weren't they?
    • I stand as living proof they're wrong.

      • And I stand as living proof they're right. I did have reading and math skills above average at the age of 7. I do fine nowadays: some sociologists won't even put me in the middle class anymore. My parents were at that time (and still are, by German standards) pretty low-income.

  • On the other hand... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:31PM (#43687563)
    ...does being smart lead to a more stressful life? Realizing how much you still don't understand, grasping the bad state of some things in world, feeling the general existential pain and philosophizing things, and so on.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:39PM (#43687677) Journal

      "If the purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world."

    • This is a #firstworldproblem, those who are worrying if they will find food tomorrow have no time to worry about existential pain and philosophy. No, you still have to learn to be happy, even if you're smart.

      One might suggest as the purpose of life, to learn to be happy even when all external circumstances are miserable. Because they will be; if nothing else you'll feel existential pain.
      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        It's not existential pain and philosophy. It's hard to watch the world as it is, and the direction it's heading and realize that most things are beyond your control. Yes, there are people starving and there shouldn't be. Corrupt governments and religious leaders abuse people and make things worse rather than helping, and there's very little that only a few people can do to affect change. Being smart and happy means that you're probably ignoring the plight of others. I think that people of below average inte

        • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:56PM (#43688459)

          Here's your problem: You're not looking at the World, you're watching the News.

          Look at it this way:
          When I grew up (in the 80s) there were no Democracies in South America. The Caribbean was so economically backward nobody would have thought of opening a bank account there, much less using it to dodge US Taxes. Apartheid South Africa was in many ways the freest country in Africa because a) the white minority (at the time almost 20%) was fairly free, and b) the rest of the continent was dominated by Military governments and Communists. A few US allies in Asia were doing well, but much of the rest of the continent had trouble buying food for everyone. Japan was the only actual Democracy. The Iron Curtain meant dozens of European countries were de facto puppets of Brehznev in Moscow. Southern Europe was economically poor, and just getting over the Fascists-are-way-better-then-Communists phase of it's political development. Instead of being confident, independent states insisting on getting fair value for their taxes at EU summits, Finland and Germany spent all their time praying the Soviets would refrain from vaporizing them. Ireland was an economic backwater obsessed with a nationalist anti-British ideology. The British themselves refused to negotiate even on purely symbolic points because they didn't want to give in to IRA terrorism.

          Yeah if you move the ball forward to about 1995 you can get past most of the really bad stuff I've mentioned. But Africa/South America/etc. were a lot poorer. Per capita most of these countries were in the dollar a day category. Ireland and the UK were only half-way to fixing their problems. Egypt was run by an extremely-tyranical un-elected Secularist rather then today's somewhat-tyranical elected Islamist. The Taliban had consolidated their rule in Afghanistan.

      • This is a #firstworldproblem, those who are worrying if they will find food tomorrow have no time to worry about existential pain and philosophy.

        I'm going to have to disagree with that one, depending upon who you talk to, one of the arguments why religion was developed was to explain to people why their lives sucked. Hunter-gather societies where you spend a fair amount time looking for food still gave rise to philosophical explanations for the big "Why?" question. Ultimately, the evidence seems to be that if you are alive long enough eventually you are going to ask yourself the question.

      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        This is a #firstworldproblem, those who are worrying if they will find food tomorrow have no time to worry about

        Then the USA is not a "First World" country. About a sixth of all residents [feedingamerica.org] don't get enough food. Particularly heartbreaking is that the numbers tend to get worse when you start talking about just kids. In my hometown the percentage of kids on meal assistance at their schools is so high, I'm too embarrassed to quote it here. These are the kids who are supposed to grow up and run the country.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Friday May 10, 2013 @03:40PM (#43688315)

          In my hometown the percentage of kids on meal assistance at their schools is so high ...

          Sorry, but "being on meal assistance" does not in any way whatsoever imply "does not get enough to eat."

          In fact the opposite is true: obesity rates are negatively correlated with income, and kids at the very bottom of the poverty scale are the fattest.

          America has a serious nutrition problem, but we certainly do not have a systematic hunger problem, and claiming or implying that we do is just diverting attention from the actual problem.

        • What is really sick here is that you think the people "not getting enough to eat" in the U.S. are anywhere near the equivalent of people in true poverty, like many countries in Africa. I don't hear about many U.S. people "not getting enough to eat" catching and cooking rats and mice...

          What you are doing is no different that proclaiming someone a Nazi because of one small aspect of behavior. It's an approach using moral equivalence that cheapens true suffering and problems.

        • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday May 10, 2013 @05:06PM (#43689125)

          About a sixth of all residents [feedingamerica.org] don't get enough food.

          Umm, no.

          Article you link doesn't say that. It says a sixth of all residents are struggling with "hunger". If you've ever bothered to check, you'll know that "hunger" (aka "food insecurity") is defined as âoedo not always know where they will find their next meal.â

          Note that that definition means that missing a meal a year would put you on the "hunger" list.

          For that matter, you don't actually have to miss a meal, since "do not always know" doesn't actually imply missing a meal, just fear of same.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        Worse problems elsewhere do not mitigate the effect of problems faced here, smarmy statements like 'firstworldproblem' notwithstanding.

        • by CycleMan (638982)

          Worse problems elsewhere do not mitigate the effect of problems faced here, smarmy statements like 'firstworldproblem' notwithstanding.

          No, but organizations of very smart people in America have learned how to lie quite effectively with the statistics they develop. Terms such as "food insecurity" may be very real for some people, but get overextended quite easily so that the number of people in danger gets inflated, and consequently the importance of their cause, and how much funding you must give them as a consequence.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Yes, as a smart person you think about those things when you're an adolescent. Then you grow up.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)
      All the dolphins ever did was muck about in the water having a good time...
    • ...does being smart lead to a more stressful life? Realizing how much you still don't understand

      Thus one learns the need to delegate tasks, respect folks in their field of expertise (though perhaps not further), and do your own research when you have a need for specific knowledge on something.It strikes me as a rather adult thing to learn and accept your limitations, and how to accomplish what needs doing despite your limited capacity and knowledge.

      , grasping the bad state of some things in world,

      Here one should learn history to gain some perspective. Currently, I'm reading a biography of Winston Churchill, and I find myself astounded at how duplic

  • Successful adults? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:33PM (#43687587)

    First define successful adult. Success means different things to different people. I know a lot of people with no more than an 8th grade education that are successfully supporting their families and are genuinely happy people.

  • by poor_boi (548340) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:39PM (#43687669)
    I've always felt that performing well in school is less a measure of intelligence and more a measure of one's ability to follow rules, complete assigned tasks, get along with teachers and classmates, and behave in socially acceptable ways. It even seems like highly intelligent people often perform worse-than-average in school because high intelligence often comes along with lower-than-average social skills (or a disinterest in adhering to social norms).
    • I've always felt that performing well in school is less a measure of intelligence and more a measure of one's ability to follow rules, complete assigned tasks, get along with teachers and classmates, and behave in socially acceptable ways. It even seems like highly intelligent people often perform worse-than-average in school because high intelligence often comes along with lower-than-average social skills (or a disinterest in adhering to social norms).

      Naah. Intelligence is often coupled to solving mathematic problems. I claim that social skills also take intelligence. A less measurable one perhaps but still.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        Yes. Passive aggressive manipulation takes intellect, but the thoughtless 'team player'/groupie/conformist mentality that most people are born with does not imply superior intelligence. Note this doesn't stop narcissistic neurotypicals from attempting association between the latter and high intellect on a regular basis.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by D1G1T (1136467)
      The really smart ones recognize the high value of successful social interaction and consciously work at developing those skills as well.
      • by PRMan (959735) on Friday May 10, 2013 @04:19PM (#43688659)
        No. We don't. Idiot... ;-)
      • by epyT-R (613989)

        They also recognize how inefficient and resource consuming it can be to have to place the feelings of insecurely bred people/culture over correctness on a regular basis. This kind of stress can blow off in lots of dark sarcasm that sends these mere mortals crying home to momma, and cause the intelligent to lose their jobs in the passive-aggressive neurotypical management counterstrike... This routinely happens in a culture that's too politically correct to accept the truth when it conflicts with propping u

    • by tverbeek (457094)
      I actually did very well in school, despite being a social misfit of sorts: a fairly typical smart kid who'd rather make stuff in his room than play with the other kids. Great GPA, test scores in the 99th percentile, etc. But it hasn't correlated with my professional and financial success, which has been ... limited. Which may just mean that success in school isn't always dependent on the attributes that make one successful in later life. Or maybe I've just been screwed over more than statistically aver
  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:39PM (#43687687)
    And this is why we need good teachers in the school system when the kids are at a young age. This is how I would re-organize the Canadian school system in Ontario:

    1) Religion in schools need to be cut. Replace Religion with math and science, math and science promote logic, God promotes making up stories because we want to.

    2) Teach math and science harder, really push them as corner stones of education, if students aren't getting the concepts increase class length. I would say by grade 5 you should be comfortable with variables.

    3) Every day should have a gym component where kids are FORCED to participate,

    4) Science class should contain hands on experiments and labs. If you can't test it, don't teach it.

    5) Find a way to make homework interactive, not just copy question out of a book.

    6) Computer Programming should become a mandatory class starting in grade 4, get kids playing with visual languages, they massively help you learn and work out logical problems that be applied in other areas.

    7) Music class, make kids learn instruments or at least get involved with Music, this will allow there creative abilities to expand.


    8) Don't let the kids sit more then 1 hour at a time, make sure they're moving around and getting involved in the class.

    Those would be the initial adjustments I would make, I'm sure it's not perfect but it's a FAR better system then one currently in place.
    • "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it"

      - Some historical figure who's name I forgot
    • by csumpi (2258986) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:48PM (#43687803)
      I agree with you but more importantly we need good parents. Less babysitters, less nannies, less ipad, less facebook, less drinking and drugs.

      Parents should spend time with their kids and be available to help.
      • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
        I would of brought up parents, but the parents all my friends and I grew up with were great parents.
        • would of

          You're trying to spell something you've heard but never seen written before, looks like.

          "Would've" is the proper spelling for the contraction you spelled "would of". It is a contraction of "would have".

          Note that people talking about the proper way to educate children should at least be able to spell common contractions properly. It cuts into your credibility no end....

          • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
            No it doesn't, it just makes you look like a complete idiot for caring about something so small.
      • by Ironchew (1069966)

        Less babysitters, less nannies, less ipad, less facebook, less drinking and drugs.

        You forgot less commenting on Slashdot.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      I'd vote for you.

    • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
      Just for the people who don't get it, Add in English, History and Comm courses where you can.
    • by fermion (181285)
      School is too long. Faith based education makes school longer or removes time from exploration. I spent way too much time learning to look up passages in the bible but could not use a dictionary or write a paragraph when I went back to public school after a two year hiatus.

      Math and science does not need to be taught harder, but does need to be more meticulous. For instance, it is correlated that understanding numbers as a system and not just bookkeeping convention at an early age coordinates well to do

      • Faith based education makes school longer or removes time from exploration. I spent way too much time learning to look up passages in the bible but could not use a dictionary or write a paragraph when I went back to public school after a two year hiatus.

        Sounds like you had a particularly bad "faith based education" then.

        Daughter went to a private religious school for middle/high school. Curriculum in both places was essentially the same as at the public schools (except for one period of Chapel per week)

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Religion promotes ethics, which hopefully keeps corrupt bankers from bankrupting us all. But keep up the ignorance...
      • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
        No it doesn't, it teaches you that when you can't explain something say god did it. I went to a catholic school and it was horrible, every time I questioned the teachers about something not making sense I was told to sit down and stop asking questions. After going to catholic school I can say that I have lost all respect for organised religion.
      • by Fjandr (66656)

        Only ethical teachers of religion promote ethics.

        There are many unethical teachers of religion.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        Not really, as a majority of religious institutions are anything but ethical. You are also forgetting the corrupt social opportunists who would strip us of every civil liberty if they could.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      I'm from the US..
      1. Agreed. I would also dump the political indoctrination 'social studies' classes and replace them with real history lessons that encourage open analysis. I would also include classes on finance (age appropriate) so that when kids graduate highschool, they have at least a basic understanding of where money comes from and how it retains its value.

      2. Agreed.

      3. Gym is already a requirement in US schools, but, to be honest, I think it should be an individual basis. If the kid is of health

    • by Sigma 7 (266129)

      1) Religion in schools need to be cut. Replace Religion with math and science, math and science promote logic, God promotes making up stories because we want to.

      False dichotomy - there's no reason why you can't have Religion, Math and Science in the same school, all in separate courses. Since you mentioned Ontario, I can easily bring a counter example where removing religion would have no effect. As for removing religion itself - you have to replace it with something. It either ends up being a random ele

  • by Khashishi (775369) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:50PM (#43687821) Journal

    Headline: ...Smart Kids Become Successful Adults.
    Article: Math and reading skills correlate with success even more strongly than intelligence.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:54PM (#43687865) Journal

    It seems pretty unsurprising that superior academic achievement in childhood would, on average, lead to somewhat better professional outcomes, at least within the "what part of 'middle class' does your salary put you in" band of professional wage labor.

    I'd be curious to know what the data look like at the extremes of the distribution, though: "The data suggest, for example, that going up one reading level at age 7 was associated with a £5,000, or roughly $7,750, increase in income at age 42." So, people who earn, say £60,000 probably had better average performance at school age than the £50k or £40k tiers. What about the people who earn £600,000? There aren't even enough reading levels available to explain that. Is the relationship nonlinear(with each incremental increase in early performance carrying a greater incremental increase in outcome?), does correlation simply break down above(and possibly below) a certain adulthood salary band?

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday May 10, 2013 @02:57PM (#43687899) Homepage

    Actually, the article says the exact opposite of the title. The title should say

    Spoiler Alert: *SUCCESSFUL* Kids Become Successful Adults

    because the article says:

    These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life," say Ritchie and Bates.

    • Actually, the article says the exact opposite of the title. The title should say

      Whooooooa, there dude. You can't go around actually reading the articles here! Cut that out!

  • When you come up with an answer like this, it raises the question, "What is the causal link?"

    They dismiss both intelligence and socioeconomic status, and yet I would guess that there's some connection between reading/math ability and intelligence/socioeconomic status. Dumb children with poor uneducated parents are probably not doing well on these tests. Also they seem dismissive of the role of later education, though I'm sure that early test performance affects subsequent educational opportunities.

    It se

    • Of course I didn't RTFA, but it sounds like - when "intelligence" and socioeconomic status are filtered, there is still a correlation, which means a poor kid who does well is still more likely to "succeed."

      It's a study of the system which produces certain outputs. I would expect the next step would be to find the causes. Depending on your particular funding source, that would mean being able to either evaluate how to change the system to increase success of those who are not excelling by age 7, or ensuring

  • My very personal experiment is still pending any tangible proof of success.

    In a related 'duh' study: public education can be rather shit - even in low student count, rural settings.
  • This is true for developed countries where the children who excel in those subjects can find a job where that matter. Whoops! Forgot to include most of the population in the world where this study will fall apart due to opportunities.
  • Everyone is asking "what is a successful adult" and that is valid as that was not presented in the case study. However I am also wondering what is determined as "successful" in terms of schooling? Are you talking arbitrarily the grades someone made? Are you talking scores on standardized tests?

    All I can say is that people who do well in school at a young age tend to do well as an adult. That is what the study states. However I would also add that it is not necessarily all inclusive as many people don't

  • ... still waiting for that success though.

    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      Yeah, I haven't seen the long-term results either. Despite having exceptional reading and math ability at that age my income is still shit, decades later.

  • I can show you straight A students who's life became a total tragic wreck. I can show you a C's & D's student who became a successful & happy adult. Our current socialized childcare(AKA public school system) with their GPA's & Competitive academics, will one day be viewed in the same light as the medical practice of bleeding out the bad blood: harmful and counterproductive. I'm sure Murdoch5 would agree that schools too often lack the very core of learning: creativity.
  • When you find a correlation in statistical data you don't get a prediction for the FUTURE. You just get a statement of what was (in that data from the past). If you want to find out if you've got something that can make a prediction, you have to actually MAKE one (a prediction), i.e. you have to predict something that WILL show up in FUTURE data. Only if it does that do you have something. Proving "backwards" on the time line is not a "prediction", you cannot use the same data you used to create you hypothe

  • They claim to have found evidence that "Math and reading ability at age 7 may be linked with socioeconomic status several decades later."

    The article goes on to say: "more evidence that a strong early education is a huge factor in helping children escape poverty."

    How did they make that leap? Where's the evidence suggesting that "strong early education" is directly correlated with math and reading ability at age 7?

    • Or even if they are things will be highly interrelated I'd imagine. For example those with a low socioeconomic status that get a strong early education likely also have other factors that lead to success (for example supportive parents the drive to succeed since there is a good chance they had to travel to get out of the ghetto schools etc). Both math and reading are rather dull subjects for most kids. Those that do well at them probably tend to have a pretty high weighting to how important success is to th

  • Does that mean that ability in math and reading at an early age is separated from intelligence or at least you are able to be successful at it early (and do well as an adult) without being intelligent? What exactly is intelligence anyways? Apparently it isn't anything to do with the types of problems that might be difficult for people from different cultures/disadvantaged socially so that rules out the typical word games in IQ tests. It seems that math and reading skills aren't very strongly correlated with

  • Makes sense. Unfortunately people draw conclusions that people with educated parents need less assistance. There's an entire place in my school where some get extra assistance, yet because my parents had graduate degrees it's assumed I need nothing extra (Phd/Masters). Now, no consideration is given to the fact that my father is dead.

    Now, the truth is I don't need the help, but I'm sure there are people with the same parental credentials who do. I think assistance should be provided by aptitude, not by the

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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