Let's start with the positive news: we are getting brighter. Unfortunately, this is not true for everyone. However, IQs have increased over time with new generations having higher reasoning skills scores than their predecessors. This is in contrast with the declining scores or plateauing of retained knowledge, such as vocabulary.
This improvement could be explained by better nutrition and healthcare. Schools and parents have shifted to focusing more on skills than knowledge. Michael Gove was urging against this with his emphasis on basic facts being taught to children.
Maybe the Tories should relax: Despite their concerns that the focus on conceptual skills was being driven by leftwing teachers, this Flynn effect of increasing IQ may actually be driven at least partially by market forces. This is one conclusion from recent research that compared the results of conscripts' tests at the time of entering Swedens national services (which, as weve previously noted, was not the panacea that nostalgic British politicians believe) with their earnings over their lives.
It found that reasoning skills have seen a rise in labour market returns relative to vocabulary-style, factual knowledge. More jobs require these skills while Google provides the facts. The shift in parental focus is rational. I'm not saying that we shouldn't make the children learn all facts, but it isn't necessary for economic reasons.