Is a person’s educational success genetically predetermined?
It is easier to believe that if you work hard you will do well. Carol Dweek’s growth mindset theory has been popular with parents and teachers. It tells us that with positive thinking and enough effort, anything is possible. I was reading about RAF pilot training and I have learned that they don’t want anyone put forward for the pilot training to fail. Those who are found to be struggling are identified and helped because the RAF has invested considerable finances into each one, and does not want to waste the money.
Why can’t this way of thinking be transferred to schools? By the age of 16, £50,000 is said to have been spent on each child. Why does the child have to be a ‘high flyer’ to be spotted and supported to succeed?
Robert Plomin* has spent most of his career understanding how our genes influence our intelligence and educational success. It does not follow that children will have the same abilities as their parents. ‘Like doesn’t beget like’ That’s what sex is about: to mix up the genes to create combinations’. He believes achievement isn’t down to effort.
One thing he does sate however, is that personalised learning is key to capitalise on students’ natural inclinations… it is important to find out early what a child is good at and what that they like to do, rather than what you want them to do! Plomin advises that ‘Parents who are mortgaging their house to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to get their kinds into the right private schools may want to pay attention to the fact that genetics account for a huge amount’.
What do you think about this? If Tom is going to be a butcher, will he be one whether he goes to Eton or not?
Another interesting debate for you!
[**Robert Plomin writes his article in the TES ‘It’s not Brave New World, nor a case of genetic castes, but intelligence is inherited’]