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Article Claims Learning Ability Tied With DNA


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#1 happybeachbum

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:18 PM

http://www.latimes.c...0711-story.html


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#2 JoJosMom

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 03:44 PM

Cool link.  Thanks for posting.



#3 reefgazer

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:22 PM

It's not surprising; virtually everything about humans is a combination of nature and nurture.


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#4 nixpix5

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:39 PM

It's not surprising; virtually everything about humans is a combination of nature and nurture.


Yes. It isn't anything that scientists haven't known for years. As musical talent, sports talents, temperament and personality, intelligence has always been a combination of nature nurture. They have seen it in twin studies and adoption studies for decades. We see it play out in animals in the lab. It is just one of those topics that is controversial because most of our social policies exist on the understanding that it is mostly nurture. It will be a long time before anyone will be able to absorb this. Getting funded in science to even do experiments that look at socially unpopular ideas is next to impossible. I am surprised this was published. However, glad to see it as moving towards an honest and true understanding of humans as a whole will be the only way true progress is made.
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#5 Paige

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 04:52 PM

This doesn't surprise me at all. My identical twins are creepily similar IRT grades and academics. If they get a wrong answer, it's usually the same wrong answer. If they are doing writing, their paper or story topics are usually the same with a similar flow, opening, and often identical sentences including mistakes mixed in. If I didn't know 100% they had no ability to copy, I'd think they were cheating. I don't see anywhere near that similarity between their learning and thinking patterns as I do with their siblings. And I don't think it is just learning ability- it's more encompassing- it's overall how they think and how they process everything in their brains. 

 

When they were toddlers they'd make up little songs and sing and dance together; cute for any siblings. But they'd sing the same improvised words and tunes together at the same time! I don't believe they are psychic or can read each other's minds like my DS does. I think they just literally thought up the same song at the same time and sang it together and it didn't weird them out. They can't even play guess the animal or eye spy with each other. It's too frustrating.


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#6 Lucy the Valiant

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 05:23 PM

This doesn't surprise me at all. My identical twins are creepily similar IRT grades and academics. If they get a wrong answer, it's usually the same wrong answer. If they are doing writing, their paper or story topics are usually the same with a similar flow, opening, and often identical sentences including mistakes mixed in. If I didn't know 100% they had no ability to copy, I'd think they were cheating. I don't see anywhere near that similarity between their learning and thinking patterns as I do with their siblings. And I don't think it is just learning ability- it's more encompassing- it's overall how they think and how they process everything in their brains. 

 

When they were toddlers they'd make up little songs and sing and dance together; cute for any siblings. But they'd sing the same improvised words and tunes together at the same time! I don't believe they are psychic or can read each other's minds like my DS does. I think they just literally thought up the same song at the same time and sang it together and it didn't weird them out. They can't even play guess the animal or eye spy with each other. It's too frustrating.

 

Ditto.


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#7 fralala

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:48 AM

If I'm understanding the article correctly, the headline is a bit imprecise. I thought the main point was this line:

 

"The genes that determine a person’s ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other."

 

"What’s more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called “generalist genes” act in concert to determine a child’s aptitude across multiple disciplines."

 

“If you found genes for reading,” Plomin said, “you have over a 50% chance that those same genes would influence math.”

 

What I would take out of this article is not that some people are just smarter than others!!! but that we should tell our kids who think "Oh, I'm a math person but terrible at English" that actually, genetically speaking, the abilities to learn these subjects are linked, and therefore any differences are a result either of effort and motivation on their part, or failures on the part of their teachers. (Here, that would be US!) And vice versa, that all those people who think they're "bad at math" but excel at language arts really are victims, often enough, of poor teaching of basic arithmetic and teachers with similarly negative attitudes.

 

 


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#8 okbud

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:43 AM

If I'm understanding the article correctly, the headline is a bit imprecise. I thought the main point was this line:

 

"The genes that determine a person’s ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other."

 

"What’s more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called “generalist genes” act in concert to determine a child’s aptitude across multiple disciplines."

 

“If you found genes for reading,” Plomin said, “you have over a 50% chance that those same genes would influence math.”

 

What I would take out of this article is not that some people are just smarter than others!!! but that we should tell our kids who think "Oh, I'm a math person but terrible at English" that actually, genetically speaking, the abilities to learn these subjects are linked, and therefore any differences are a result either of effort and motivation on their part, or failures on the part of their teachers. (Here, that would be US!) And vice versa, that all those people who think they're "bad at math" but excel at language arts really are victims, often enough, of poor teaching of basic arithmetic and teachers with similarly negative attitudes.

 

:iagree:

 

That's what I took away from it as well. That if you have x-capacity in one area, you have at least 50% x-capacity in other areas as well, because that capacity is roughly 50% genetic and is independent of what area of learning/body of knowledge you are working with.


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#9 Bluegoat

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 07:11 AM

If I'm understanding the article correctly, the headline is a bit imprecise. I thought the main point was this line:

 

"The genes that determine a person’s ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other."

 

"What’s more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called “generalist genes” act in concert to determine a child’s aptitude across multiple disciplines."

 

“If you found genes for reading,” Plomin said, “you have over a 50% chance that those same genes would influence math.”

 

What I would take out of this article is not that some people are just smarter than others!!! but that we should tell our kids who think "Oh, I'm a math person but terrible at English" that actually, genetically speaking, the abilities to learn these subjects are linked, and therefore any differences are a result either of effort and motivation on their part, or failures on the part of their teachers. (Here, that would be US!) And vice versa, that all those people who think they're "bad at math" but excel at language arts really are victims, often enough, of poor teaching of basic arithmetic and teachers with similarly negative attitudes.

 

A lot of the boudaries we erect between subjects are somewhat artificial, I think.


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#10 JoJosMom

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:15 AM

Yes. It isn't anything that scientists haven't known for years. As musical talent, sports talents, temperament and personality, intelligence has always been a combination of nature nurture. They have seen it in twin studies and adoption studies for decades. We see it play out in animals in the lab. It is just one of those topics that is controversial because most of our social policies exist on the understanding that it is mostly nurture. It will be a long time before anyone will be able to absorb this. Getting funded in science to even do experiments that look at socially unpopular ideas is next to impossible. I am surprised this was published. However, glad to see it as moving towards an honest and true understanding of humans as a whole will be the only way true progress is made.

 

This.  Exactly this.  We have gotten very uncomfortable culturally with the idea that intellectual ability is in any way inherent (even though all the studies I've read are very, very clear that genes are only PART of the equation), so these types of suggestions are usually either ignored or viciously attacked.  To see it actually published in a mainstream newspaper, with the suggestion that we pursue -gasp!- differentiated education is a bit shocking. (I'm also a bit surprised that, so far, no one has flipped out here after reading it. ;) )
 


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#11 nixpix5

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:50 AM

:iagree:

That's what I took away from it as well. That if you have x-capacity in one area, you have at least 50% x-capacity in other areas as well, because that capacity is roughly 50% genetic and is independent of what area of learning/body of knowledge you are working with.



Yes, but the take home message is that these ARE linked. If you look at the original research done and the other body of research done around aptitude this does suggest that those that are inclined towards being "good" at a subject are good at other subjects and those that are not good at a subject may not be good at another subject. This distills down to overall aptitude being partly genetic.

From all of the research through the decades the best way to understand it is yes, genetics does play a part and some people are born smarter than others. As uncomfortable as that sounds it is the case. One look at a few child prodigies and geniuses can give you that data. If you jump on pubmed the body of research to support it is hard to reffute. Our brains are complex and the instructions to wire them is vast. Many things can play out. The neural connections and the strength in firing is genetically based and that has been shown in the lab. Those strong connections and synapses lead to the ability to learn well.

However, a child with aptitude might not meet potential in the wrong environment just like a child who might struggle more can reach their potential in the right environment. Nature nurture always. I also fully believe alot has to do with what genes turn on throughout development and how well our brains prune during the pruning stages (3yrs and 14yrs roughly). Both of these things are nurture pursuaded. Luckily we have many opportunities to help our children maximize their brains.

I love genetic research and find it all so interesting! I have wished for ages I would have become a geneticist as opposed to a neurobiologist. Alas...not enough time to go to school for everything I am interested in :)
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#12 okbud

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:12 AM

Yes, but [...] This distills down to overall aptitude being partly genetic.

 

That's what I said.

From all of the research through the decades the best way to understand it is yes, genetics does play a part and some people are born smarter than others. As uncomfortable as that sounds it is the case.

 

Are people uncomfortable with that? I think most people know there are a lot of people that are bother more and less intelligent than they are. Plus, you're not born "smart," you're born with greater or lesser capacities to both store information, and make connections between information sets, which are then affected, as you said below this sentence, by your environment.
 


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#13 Paige

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:04 AM

Sociobiology was a touchy field when I was a student. People don't like it because it seems to blame people for their weaknesses or imply that some individuals are doomed to a lower level, but I don't look at it that way. It gives you a baseline but environment and brain plasticity are so important. We can improve upon what we are born with and our environments have often been far from ideal. There is still great potential for everyone. Being a B, C, or D student does not mean that you will end up less successful than A students. 

 

Besides, the world would not be a better place if everyone were Einstein and Hawking. We need Mandela, Disney, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Michael Jordan. We need diversity of abilities and thought. 

 

 


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#14 nixpix5

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:30 AM

Yes, but [...] This distills down to overall aptitude being partly genetic.

That's what I said.

From all of the research through the decades the best way to understand it is yes, genetics does play a part and some people are born smarter than others. As uncomfortable as that sounds it is the case.

Are people uncomfortable with that? I think most people know there are a lot of people that are bother more and less intelligent than they are. Plus, you're not born "smart," you're born with greater or lesser capacities to both store information, and make connections between information sets, which are then affected, as you said below this sentence, by your environment.


I quoted the wrong person ;) I was commenting more on the idea of the title being misleading. Learning ability (ie learning aptitude is indeed tied to DNA).

What you said was indeed correct. :)

There are so many different types of aptitudes that serve people differently and emphasis is placed on certain ones depending upon our placement in history. What we now call AD/HD would have been such an asset in hunting and gathering days. Being able to tune in to every movement and sound it the environment would have been amazing. Now it hinders the ability to sit and do a page of calculus.

I was thinking of the big picture as a society. We tend to tell everyone to go to college and when some people cannot handle it they feel bad about themselves and feel inadequate. I don't believe everyone has the capacity or need to do that. We need to be realistic as a society and honor all aptitudes. It will take good science and honest conversations to get to that point.
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#15 Bluegoat

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:30 PM

Sociobiology was a touchy field when I was a student. People don't like it because it seems to blame people for their weaknesses or imply that some individuals are doomed to a lower level, but I don't look at it that way. It gives you a baseline but environment and brain plasticity are so important. We can improve upon what we are born with and our environments have often been far from ideal. There is still great potential for everyone. Being a B, C, or D student does not mean that you will end up less successful than A students. 

 

Besides, the world would not be a better place if everyone were Einstein and Hawking. We need Mandela, Disney, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Michael Jordan. We need diversity of abilities and thought. 

 

I agree with you about needing everyone. 

 

And also, we need people who aren't any of those you mention - people who are kind, who cut your hair, make your coffee in the morning, deliver packages...  This is always what I was taught, and what I thought, equality was about.  Not equality of prowess or intelligence or anything that that.  Equality of our intrinsic value as human beings.

 

But I've noticed that since I was a child, it seems people seem less comfortable that that.  There seems to be much more of a feeling that political equality, or an equal society, depends on some kind of actual equality.  people don't believe this has to be true of individuals, I think that is too clearly untrue - but they want to maintain that different groups are "equal".  Which - maybe they are, but maybe they aren't. 

 

I think some of this is angst that comes out of a society that is a meritocracy, especially when we are taught to believe that is a good thing.  For that to seem fair, we need to believe that people all have, or could have, a chance to rise to the top, if only we managed society properly.


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#16 Bluegoat

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:33 PM

I quoted the wrong person ;) I was commenting more on the idea of the title being misleading. Learning ability (ie learning aptitude is indeed tied to DNA).

What you said was indeed correct. :)

There are so many different types of aptitudes that serve people differently and emphasis is placed on certain ones depending upon our placement in history. What we now call AD/HD would have been such an asset in hunting and gathering days. Being able to tune in to every movement and sound it the environment would have been amazing. Now it hinders the ability to sit and do a page of calculus.

I was thinking of the big picture as a society. We tend to tell everyone to go to college and when some people cannot handle it they feel bad about themselves and feel inadequate. I don't believe everyone has the capacity or need to do that. We need to be realistic as a society and honor all aptitudes. It will take good science and honest conversations to get to that point.

 

An interesting tidbit I learned - apparently they have done studies in hunter gatherer societies, and they found that being a great hunter has no correlation at all with being intelligent in the IQ sense of the world.  It does make me wonder though at the wisdom of creating a society where we can't accommodate all types of innate ability in some way.


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#17 nixpix5

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:10 PM

An interesting tidbit I learned - apparently they have done studies in hunter gatherer societies, and they found that being a great hunter has no correlation at all with being intelligent in the IQ sense of the world. It does make me wonder though at the wisdom of creating a society where we can't accommodate all types of innate ability in some way.

Yes! That is true! It is actually much more cerebellar in nature...the skills needed in huntering/gathering communities. One needs a good sense of spatial sense (mental maps), keen senses for tracking, they need to be prone to distraction to be on alert, and have a strong sense of rhythm (what allows us to play an instrument, feel a beat, catch a ball) and amygdala played a role... they also need to be somewhat aggressive. They need to be able to conform to a group as well which too much thinking often leads to the opposite :) Anthropology and Sociology has alot of great information on this topic. In areas where the terrain was harsh, farming wasn't easy, food wasn't plentiful and weather was colder we see what appears to be higher intellectual propensity having come about out of sheer necessity. Those genes definitely won out in those regions because cleverness, problem solving, deep intellectual group coordination had to occur for survival.

Whatever the case, all of our ancient ancestors definitely set the genetic stage for us in the here and now to do calculus :)

Edited by nixpix5, 18 May 2017 - 02:12 PM.

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#18 Bluegoat

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:55 PM

Yes! That is true! It is actually much more cerebellar in nature...the skills needed in huntering/gathering communities. One needs a good sense of spatial sense (mental maps), keen senses for tracking, they need to be prone to distraction to be on alert, and have a strong sense of rhythm (what allows us to play an instrument, feel a beat, catch a ball) and amygdala played a role... they also need to be somewhat aggressive. They need to be able to conform to a group as well which too much thinking often leads to the opposite :) Anthropology and Sociology has alot of great information on this topic. In areas where the terrain was harsh, farming wasn't easy, food wasn't plentiful and weather was colder we see what appears to be higher intellectual propensity having come about out of sheer necessity. Those genes definitely won out in those regions because cleverness, problem solving, deep intellectual group coordination had to occur for survival.

Whatever the case, all of our ancient ancestors definitely set the genetic stage for us in the here and now to do calculus :)

 

I would be a terrible hunter!

 

When I was in the army, my trade was more cerebral, but of course we had to do more typical infantry exercises sometimes.  One of the "rules" when under attack was that you don't shoot unless you see someone to shoot at - so you don't waste ammunition.  We'd be in the middle of an ambush with everyone around me firing away, and my officer would say "J!  Why aren't you firing!"  And I would say "Sir, I can't see anyone!"  I learned to shoot anyway so I wouldn't have to turn all the ammunition in at the end.

 

I don't think I ever really saw the "enemy" in 10 years.


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#19 happybeachbum

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:36 PM

An interesting tidbit I learned - apparently they have done studies in hunter gatherer societies, and they found that being a great hunter has no correlation at all with being intelligent in the IQ sense of the world.  It does make me wonder though at the wisdom of creating a society where we can't accommodate all types of innate ability in some way.

 

It's interesting to how the idea of I. Q. has changed from what Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon intended.  Of course as stated in the wiki there have always been attempts.  

 

https://en.wikipedia...igence_quotient

"French psychologist Alfred Binet, together with Victor Henri and Théodore Simon had more success in 1905, when they published the Binet-Simon test, which focused on verbal abilities. It was intended to identify mental retardation in school children,[22] but in specific contradistinction to claims made by psychiatrists that these children were "sick" (not "slow") and should therefore be removed from school and cared for in asylums.[23] The score on the Binet-Simon scale would reveal the child's mental age. For example, a six-year-old child who passed all the tasks usually passed by six-year-olds—but nothing beyond—would have a mental age that matched his chronological age, 6.0. (Fancher, 1985). Binet thought that intelligence was multifaceted, but came under the control of practical judgment.

In Binet's view, there were limitations with the scale and he stressed what he saw as the remarkable diversity of intelligence and the subsequent need to study it using qualitative, as opposed to quantitative, measures (White, 2000). American psychologist Henry H. Goddard published a translation of it in 1910. American psychologist Lewis Terman at Stanford University revised the Binet-Simon scale, which resulted in the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales (1916). It became the most popular test in the United States for decades."

 

What's been found is that there is no such thing as I. Q.  https://www.thestar....study_says.html


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#20 reefgazer

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 11:40 PM

What I took out of this article wasn't about smarter than or not.  I took out that it is extremely unfair to expect all children to achieve the same thing at the same level and at the same time; that is, we should look to personalize a curriculum and do away with mindless standardization to maximize the benefit to each child.  Well, that, and to stop blaming teachers when a child doesn't achieve to come standardized level.

If I'm understanding the article correctly, the headline is a bit imprecise. I thought the main point was this line:

 

"The genes that determine a person’s ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other."

 

"What’s more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called “generalist genes” act in concert to determine a child’s aptitude across multiple disciplines."

 

“If you found genes for reading,” Plomin said, “you have over a 50% chance that those same genes would influence math.”

 

What I would take out of this article is not that some people are just smarter than others!!! but that we should tell our kids who think "Oh, I'm a math person but terrible at English" that actually, genetically speaking, the abilities to learn these subjects are linked, and therefore any differences are a result either of effort and motivation on their part, or failures on the part of their teachers. (Here, that would be US!) And vice versa, that all those people who think they're "bad at math" but excel at language arts really are victims, often enough, of poor teaching of basic arithmetic and teachers with similarly negative attitudes.

 


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#21 fralala

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:22 AM

What I took out of this article wasn't about smarter than or not.  I took out that it is extremely unfair to expect all children to achieve the same thing at the same level and at the same time; that is, we should look to personalize a curriculum and do away with mindless standardization to maximize the benefit to each child.  Well, that, and to stop blaming teachers when a child doesn't achieve to come standardized level.

 

Yes, I definitely agree, at least partially! I think perhaps part of my contrariness is that I just don't see an overarching attitude-- at least where I live in the U.S.-- that all people have the same aptitude for learning by nature. The trend, again at least where I am fortunate to live, has been to make as many accommodations in the public schools as financially possible for learners with challenges. Just because a child learns more slowly, or laboriously, or needs a different style of teaching does not mean that she might not one day want and be able to be a doctor; just because a child flies through all his subjects with ease and gets perfect SAT scores does not mean he might not be happiest fixing cars. We are unfair to children when we make assumptions about them based upon the speed or ease with which they learn things.

 

We all have issues with the public education system, but for me the drive to universal minimum standards in education is also about assuring that we don't neglect kids whose natural abilities make it more challenging for them-- but still possible, through good teaching practices, educators' knowledge of learning differences, and hard work. Hopefully studies like this do challenge educators to find better ways to teach all children, to pay attention to the individual needs of children; and separate from this is the valuable point mentioned by a poster above, that as human beings we are equal and that our society's privileging of certain knowledge/skill sets and career paths is detrimental to us as humans. In truth, this probably makes many of us blind to the true nature of children and what their ideal path(s) might be. (At least, it is one of my greatest struggles when trying to educate my own kids-- I can't imagine being responsible for making those kind of choices for the children of others.)


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#22 okbud

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:10 AM

I haven't had to deal with public schools since I graduated.

What I experience living, breathing people doing is absolutely recognizing that some ppl are painters, some are architects, some are homemakers, and all of those choices are independent of each individuals inherent intelligence...iow, (for the most part) everyone I know knows that hg women still choose to be a sahm's, for example, or that an absolute nitwit can be a lawyer or whatever.

But what real people do, and what institutions do are always likely to be at odds.

When I read the article I was like "duh." But only because it didn't even occur to me to think in terms of institutional policy.
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#23 Tohru

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Posted 20 May 2017 - 10:58 PM

If I'm understanding the article correctly, the headline is a bit imprecise. I thought the main point was this line:

 

"The genes that determine a person’s ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other."

 

"What’s more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called “generalist genes” act in concert to determine a child’s aptitude across multiple disciplines."

 

“If you found genes for reading,” Plomin said, “you have over a 50% chance that those same genes would influence math.”

 

What I would take out of this article is not that some people are just smarter than others!!! but that we should tell our kids who think "Oh, I'm a math person but terrible at English" that actually, genetically speaking, the abilities to learn these subjects are linked, and therefore any differences are a result either of effort and motivation on their part, or failures on the part of their teachers. (Here, that would be US!) And vice versa, that all those people who think they're "bad at math" but excel at language arts really are victims, often enough, of poor teaching of basic arithmetic and teachers with similarly negative attitudes.

 

 

 

Awesome summarization. Thank you!!!


Edited by Tohru, 20 May 2017 - 10:58 PM.

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