"You can get all A's, and still flunk life." - Walker Percy
In a King's College study of 25,000 children across state and public schools, researchers found that 11 year olds were three years behind same age children in 1976. This result runs counter to the notion of the Flynn Effect or the well-documented increase in IQ scores over time.
What's going on?
The King's test involved questions that required a working knowledge or experience the physical world, like being able to know what effect increased density (for instance a block of brass vs. plasticine)would have displacing water. The result? boys performed better than girls, but all children were far behind same-age students some 30 years ago...
"In 1976 a third of boys and a quarter of girls scored highly in the tests overall; by 2004, the figures had plummeted to just 6% of boys and 5% of girls. These children were on average two to three years behind those who were tested in the mid-1990s.
"It is shocking," says Adey. "The general cognitive foundation of 11 and 12-year-olds has taken a big dip. There has been a continuous decline in the last 30 years and it is carrying on now."
The results certainly raise warning flags about trends in education and recreation. Children are less likely to have hands-on or direct experience play or observation, and standardized testing could shift the focus of curricula to semantic knowledge or rote learning. That may be good for answering questions that mankind has already found the answers to, but poor for developing novel questions or solving problems that may not yet exist.
Failing to teach them real life- Times Online
American Scientist: Are We as Smart as We Can Get?
Adey's Cognitive Acceleration Through Science Education