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Does our genetics ‘determine’ how ‘smart’ we can become? Debate erupts in Britain

| | January 8, 2018

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Education in England is no better than mediocre, and billions of pounds have been wasted on pointless university courses and Sure Start schemes for young children, Michael Gove’s special adviser has said in an outspoken private thesis written a few weeks before he is due to step down from his post.

Dominic Cummings, the most influential adviser to the education secretary in the past five years, also argues in a revealing 250-page paper that “real talent” is rare among the nation’s teachers – and, eye-catchingly, says educationists need to better understand the impact of genetics on children.

In one of the most controversial passages of the thesis, Cummings maintains that individual child performance is mainly based on genetics and a child’s IQ rather than the quality of teaching.

He says: “There is strong resistance across the political spectrum to accepting scientific evidence on genetics. Most of those that now dominate discussions on issues such as social mobility entirely ignore genetics and therefore their arguments are at best misleading and often worthless.” He claims research shows that as much as 70% of a child’s performance is genetically derived.

Cummings is highly critical of the quality of teaching, writing: “While some children will always be blessed by a brilliant teacher, by definition that is not a scaleable solution to our problems: real talent is rare and mediocrity is ubiquitous.”

Read full, original post: Genetics outweighs teaching, Gove adviser tells his boss

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