A new study finds that academic achievement is an inherited trait. What exactly does that mean? We already know that intelligence is inherited, so what does it mean to say that academic achievement is inherited? Essentially, it means that performance across the various academic disciplines is due to the same genes. It’s not just math, language and science either, but also the humanities, even to some degree, art. Is anyone surprised by this? I’m not. I am, however, surprised by what some have said about the value of this research.
Well, maybe I’m not all that surprised. Then again, “disgusted” might be a better word for what I think about it. Julian Savulescu, Professor of Practical Ethics, has some thoughts about what to do with what we learn from this research, and he definitely thinks we should do something, as he says in his article “The Ethics of Gifted Genes: The Road to Gattaca”
If we choose to do nothing, we are responsible for failing to maximise the potential and the realisation of that potential of the next generation. We can use this research to have children with a better chance of a better life, and a more just and equal society.
Let that sink in for a minute. Now consider what he thinks would be good. One thing would be that “Increased support and tailored education could be targeted at those who are genetically disadvantaged, correcting the effect of the genetic lottery.” So now our goal should be to “correct the effects of the genetic lottery”? Am I the only one who sees this as having the potential to create even more hostility for those who are perceived as having won that lottery? As a way to withhold appropirate services for those lottery winners, who already have an “unfair” advantage?
The value of this research to me is that it proves that gifted kids do exist and that they are born, not made. It should stop people from telling parents of gifted kids that they need to stop “pushing” their kids, that all kids are gifted, or that giftedness doesn’t exist. It should make it easier for us parents to explain that our children have special academic needs because of their genetic makeup, not because we want our kids to be smarter than all the other kids. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what Savulescu sees as the value of this new research, and I doubt it will be what most others see either. I’m anticipating more ammunition to be used against parents of gifted kids who are trying to advocate on behalf of their children for more appropriate educational services.http://giftsforlearning.com/wp/the-role-of-genes-in-academic-success-we-need-justice/http://giftsforlearning.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DNA-Brain-15403361_s.jpghttp://giftsforlearning.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DNA-Brain-15403361_s-150x150.jpgAbout GiftednessScience of Giftedness