Controversy: Replies to Bettelheim’s “Schooling is Not Enough”

In response to:

How Much Can Man Change? from the September 10, 1964 issue

To the Editors:

Professor Bruno Bettelheim, whose very existence today is a monument to his intelligence, commits a rather startling error in his use of statistics in his review of Benjamin S. Bloom’s Stability and Change in Human Characteristics. He uses averages throughout as if there were no variations from the average. For some purposes this procedure may be justified. It would appear to be satisfactory when the figures on early intelligence are used to confirm the general psychoanalytic assumption about early human development. But when Dr. Bettelheim states that “From ages eight to seventeen the highest average effect that even the most radical change in environment produces is not more than 0.4 I.Q. points per year” and uses this as an argument suggesting that school integration will have little effect on intelligence, one is forced to ask how great the variation is from the average rate of intelligence growth. Obviously if 10 or even 5 per cent of the children respond to changed environment with a significant increase in intelligence the situation is very different from the impression created by Professor Bettelheim’s review.

Richard M. Reinitz

Wayne State University

Detroit, Michigan