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ERIC Number: EJ1006208
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0148-432X
Schooling Makes You Smarter: What Teachers Need to Know about IQ
Nisbett, Richard E.
American Educator, v37 n1 p10-19, 38-39 Spr 2013
In 1994, America took a giant step backward in understanding intelligence and how it can be cultivated. Richard Herrnstein, a psychology professor at Harvard University, and Charles Murray, a political scientist with the American Enterprise Institute, published "The Bell Curve," a best-selling book that was controversial among researchers, but was given enormous, uncritical attention in the popular press. It would be difficult to overestimate the impact of "The Bell Curve." Even people who never read the book picked up its conclusions from press accounts and from discussions with people who read it. The impact on policymakers was substantial, and many practicing educators today accept the views about intelligence presented in the book and fostered by the media. The conclusions that many people drew from the book were that IQ tests are an accurate and largely sufficient measure of intelligence, that IQ is primarily genetically controlled, that IQ is little influenced by environmental factors, that racial differences in IQ are likely due at least in part, and perhaps in large part, to genetics, and that educational and other interventions have little impact on IQ and little effect on racial differences in IQ. "The Bell Curve" encouraged skepticism about the ability of public policy initiatives to have much impact on IQ or IQ-related outcomes. But in fact, "all of the conclusions the author has just summarized are mistaken." Even at the time the book was published, many cognitive scientists believed that some of these conclusions were erroneous. Now one knows that all of them are. In this article, the author will describe the new knowledge that is most relevant to educators. The basic conclusions are that environmental factors are much more important in determining intelligence than previously believed, that racial group differences owe little or nothing to genes, and that interventions, including school, influence intelligence at every level from prenatal care to college and beyond. (Contains 77 endnotes.)
American Federation of Teachers. 555 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-879-4400; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Home Observation for Measurement of Environment