Lee Kuan Yew on Assortative Mating.
Lee Kuan Yew is fond of graduates. For him, a graduate is a superior being to be courted. Recently, he expressed his views on the assortative mating of graduates, in a televised interview.
Lee Kuan Yew said that graduates should only marry graduates and that one should not form a graduate, non-graduate partnership. For him, such a partnership would jeopardize the chances of giving rise to "graduate children".
It seems clear that Lee Kuan Yew thinks that the state of being a graduate is somehow inherited. I feel that this comes from a misunderstanding of what, exactly, is inherited. Being a graduate is an ACQUIRED characteristic. One is not born a graduate. To become a graduate one must interact with the educational bureaucracy for a certain number of years, suppress one's individuality to a greater or lesser extent (depending on the system), conform to the rules and generally do what is expected of one, for a set number of years. At the end of this period, if you have been a good (conformist) boy or girl, you will be awarded a piece of paper that has social meaning: that is you are a "graduate" - and non-graduates can thereafter look up to you in awe of your greatness.
Now, that is all very well, but the fact that being a graduate is an acquired characteristic, based on many factors - money for educational fees, not being dyslexic (it is more difficult to be a graduate if you are one), being motivated by examinations, finding the courses interesting enough to study, hard work for some, talent for others etc. etc. - means that being a graduate is not a very good marker for intelligence, which is, I assume, Lee Kuan Yew's real concern.
Lee Kuan Yew wishes graduates to marry only graduates to create a super class of smart people. However, there is a problem with this. University degrees are not directly inheritable - that is Lamarckian inheritance (that of inheriting acquired characteristics) does not apply. Just because your mum and dad are graduates of Cambridge University, that does not mean that you, too, will be a graduate of Cambridge University. It is not something that can be inherited. If LKY believes that it is inheritable directly, then he is making a Lamarckian error (belief in the inheritance of acquired characteristics). What can be inherited, however, to a great degree is intelligence and various aspects of character. These inheritances can predispose one to become a degree holder one day - but there is no guarantee that this will be so - since it depends on many factors that have nothing to do with intelligence. There are some very smart non-graduates (I know plenty) and there are some VERY stupid graduates (I know plenty). Being a graduate doesn't mean you are smart, it means that someone else is stupid enough to give you a degree.
At the heart of LKY's contention is that people should marry their own kind. This is, actually, an age-old trend in humans. People naturally tend to seek out others with whom they have many things in common. So, in urging this, LKY is just stating what people tend to do anyway.
I think, however, that he is making a fundamental error in categorizing graduates as superior to non-graduates. That is simply not so. A graduate is just someone who has conformed to an education system long enough to actually be given a piece of paper by it. It does not mean that they are more special than someone who decided NOT to conform to the education system long enough to receive a piece of paper. In fact, the NON-conformist could be SUPERIOR to the conformist graduate. Education in Singapore is a case in point. I have worked within the system and it is strongly conformist. I think that it is likely, in such a system, that many who conform to it are inferior to those who escape from it. Truly smart people do not conform readily in their thinking - they escape to make their own territory.
People are better judges of whom they should marry than LKY is. Lee Kuan Yew is using the short-hand of "graduate" to decide that people are of sufficient merit to marry. Well, many graduates are dull people. A man or woman seeking a partner can see that. They can decide for themselves that "dull graduate A" is not as marriage worthy as "interesting non-graduate B" - and they can select B. What they may actually be selecting FOR is the quality of genuine intelligence that LKY seeks anyway. A person who looks at another carefully will see more about them, in terms of intelligence and character, than any piece of paper could tell them. Sometimes, the non-graduate will be smarter and more interesting - and better in many ways - than all available graduates. In such circumstances, it would make sense to REJECT the graduates and marry the non-graduate.
I find it funny, in a way, that LKY should be so concerned to create brighter people in Singapore. You see, from our own experience, we have learnt that Singapore doesn't do all that is necessary to look after the bright citizens it DOES have. We had to struggle very hard to get the right educational provisions for our son, Ainan. It took a year and a half of wasted time to get him a Chemistry lab, for instance. There is NO POINT AT ALL in bringing more bright children into the world of Singapore, if the ones it already has, have to struggle to get the resources they need to optimize their talents. I think Lee Kuan Yew is not fully aware of how his nation actually behaves towards its brightest children. We had to talk to many, many, institutions before we got any positive response. Generally speaking, institutions here will do nothing out of the ordinary, for an extraordinary child. No-one wants to make any exception. Furthermore the Gifted Education Programme is mis-named, for they do very little to help the gifted child in any real way (they talk a lot, study the child like a lab animal - then do little).
So, I would advise LKY: first ensure that your country actually welcomes bright children, before you worry about how many of them you have.
Note: I graduated from Cambridge University in Natural Sciences. I don't consider it a fruitful time. Nor did I meet anyone at Cambridge that I considered marriage material: they weren't up to my standard, at all. (They were too conformist). So much for the "marry a graduate" theory.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
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