Saturday, July 27, 2013

Success DOES depend on your parents' intelligence: Exam results are influenced by genes, not teaching

All that is old is new again.  The facts below have been known since the work of Binet over 100 years ago but are politically incorrect.  So it is good to see them getting a rare mention

Parents' intelligence really does have a huge bearing on a teenagers' success at school, a leading geneticist has claimed.

Professor Robert Plomin, from Kings College London, found inherited intelligence could account for nearly 60 per cent of a teenager's GCSE results, while the school environment, including the quality of teaching, only influences results by a third.

His study was based upon long-term analysis of twins and suggests that their genes play a larger part than the education they receive when it came to their achievement in schools.

Professor Plomin, from the university's Institute of Psychology, led the research that studied 11,000 twins born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996. He has since talked to the Department for Education about his findings.

The Telegraph reported that ministers and senior officials are 'seriously considering' how the findings could be used in future reforms of the education system.

Professor Plomin told The Spectator that education professionals have been too fast to dismiss the influence of genetics in a bid to avoid labeling children as soon as they start school.

However, he believes that his controversial findings can be used in a positive way to develop education tailored to a child's unique needs, rather than following a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

In the future, Professor Plomin thinks that genetic scanning could eventually be used to identity particularly gifted children or those with academic weaknesses.

He said that children already label each other, whether it is by academic or sporting ability, and that by reading a child's genome, adults can predict and therefore influence a child's academic progression, as well as prevent disease.

Professor Plomin told the magazine: 'If we can read their DNA, we can tailor the teaching to help a kid with learning difficulties.

'Surely it’s worse to just sit in a classroom and sink, unable to read because no one has identified that you might have trouble.'

His Twins Early Development Study, which has not yet been published, examined the GCSE results of 11,117 twins and found that their genes had a 'substantial' influence on their performance.

The study found that the twins' genes had a bearing on 52 per cent of their marks in English, 55 percent in maths and 58 per cent in science.

Taking an average across all the subjects, inherited ability swayed 58 per cent of the teenagers' test scores at the age of 16, while the school environment and therefore the quality of teaching only accounted for 36 per cent.

It could be argued, based on the results of the research, that the present school system is doomed to fail at closing the gap in results between the cleverest and weakest students and it seems that home environment has a limited influence too.

Professor Plomin said: 'Much more of the variance in GCSE scores can be attributed to genetics than to school or family environment.'

This is not the first study to suggest a strong link between a children's genes and their intelligence and that the connection may become more noticeable with age.

He added that the genetic influence of a person's IQ increases as they age, with some scientists considering that it becomes 80 per cent inheritable in later life.

The theory is that small genetic differences become larger as a person ages and creates environments correlated to their genotype.

For example, clever people might seek out intellectually stimulating pursuits like reading and socialise with like-minded people.

A Department for Education source told The Telegraph: 'As we learn more from science, a decentralised school system with great teachers providing personalised learning will be even more important, so that teachers can make decisions for the best interests of each child.'


High-tech and Humanity: 'English Majors Are What We're Looking For'

Economic anxiety defines the Detroit bankruptcy, and not just in Michigan and the Midwest. Detroit is the urban nightmare, symbolic of America's downward cultural spiral since the 1960s, when optimism about what Americans could accomplish was the national elixir.

The automobile was the national icon: powerful, beautiful and reliable. Detroit's advertising slogans reflected America's immeasurable self-confidence. Cadillac boasted that it was "the standard of the world." Buick promised that "when better cars are built, Buick will build them." Packard, then Detroit's ultimate expression of luxury, smugly advised, "Ask the man who owns one."

The car was the example of infinite American possibility. Americans had just returned from winning two wars, one beyond the Atlantic and the other in the Pacific, and we were liberated to think we could do anything -- in business, engineering, medicine, the law or whatever else struck our fancy. We were free to explore the possibilities of the mind. There was the saying that the first-generation American had gone into business so his son could be a doctor and his grandson could be a professor.

The returning American soldier, getting a college education on the G.I. Bill as the happy alternative to the war he had just won, could look at his reality in a fresh way. Many measured themselves by their ability to make money; others exhilarated in how prosperity freed them to "rise above" money matters to study philosophy and literature. But all that was a long time ago.

The pessimism of the present day affects the way we think about the future in narrower ways. A half-century ago, 14 percent of college students studied the humanities, the reflection of the great ideas that liberated an imagination grounded in what Matthew Arnold, the 19th-century English poet and critic, described as "the best that has been thought and said in the world."

Aristotle said mastering metaphors was a sign of genius. That may have been exaggeration from the man who espoused the golden mean, but the ancient philosopher understood that poetry had its practical virtues (even if his colleague Plato didn't include the poet in his ideal society).

Humanities majors sometimes were referred to as "eggheads," disdained by their more practical brothers and sisters, but mostly they were proud to carry on a tradition requiring that they read the great works from antiquity to modernity. Humanities majors are down now to 7 percent, and they are not exactly high status on campus.

In a digital age, no one much cares that the humanities major is an endangered species. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in a report titled "The Heart of the Matter," makes the case that, like the natural sciences, the humanities feed "mental empowerment." True enough, but the report ignores important reasons why young men and women ignore a humanities major today. Tenured professors smother the beauty and truth of the ancients with arcane jargon, trading the wisdom from the forest for the weeds of multicultural and politically correct revisionism.

That's too bad. Without the passion that stirs the soul with great writing, it's easy to overlook the riches of a liberal arts education. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, he noted that Apple's DNA was not made up of technology alone. "It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing," he said.

Jobs was not alone in recognizing that the high-tech employers seek innovators who employ imagination, metaphor and storytelling, all growing from the rediscovery of great works of literature. Michael Malone, author and teacher, tells of inviting a Silicon Valley high-tech entrepreneur to talk to his college writing class. When he told his visitor to go easy on the downside of life for an English major in a tech-savvy world, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur replied: "English majors are exactly the people I'm looking for." The battleground, writes Malone in The Wall Street Journal, has shifted from engineering to storytelling as the means of translating an idea into imagined reality. The study of fine writing and the arts opens the mind to a larger nature, to quality measured not by big data, but by big ideas.

"At a time when economic anxiety is driving the public toward a narrow concept of education focused on short-term payoffs," observes the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, "it is imperative that colleges, universities and their supporters make a clear and convincing case for the value of liberal arts education." That's a hard sell to engineers, economists and politicians watching Detroit slide down the tubes, but there's merit in it. You should channel Steve Jobs.


British children as young as five kicked out of class as almost 100 primary pupils are suspended EVERY DAY for assaults on teachers and classmates

Almost 100 primary pupils are suspended each school day for assaulting their teachers and classmates, according to official figures.

Children as young as five are increasingly being ordered out of the classroom after attacking school staff, Government data shows.

Thousands more are being sent home for verbal abuse or threatening behaviour.

The statistics, published by the Department for Education, reveal the state of behaviour in England's schools in 2011/12, and suggest a worsening situation in primaries.

Pupils aged between five and 11 were suspended 9,120 times for physically assaulting another pupil last year, the figures show, down marginally from 9,160 times in 2010/11.

But there was an increase in the number of times pupils of this age were suspended for assaulting an adult - 8,630 occasions in total, compared to 7,830 the year before.

It means that the equivalent to 93 primary-age pupils were suspended on any given school day in 2011/12 for physical assault, such as violent behaviour, obstruction, wounding and fighting, according to an analysis of the statistics.

Primary school pupils were also expelled on 120 occasions for assaulting a classmate - up from 90 the year before, and 200 times for assaulting staff, the same as in 2010/11.

The figures show that primary schools were forced to temporarily bar pupils aged 11 and under from lessons 6,200 times for verbal abuse and threatening behaviour such as being aggressive, carrying a weapon, homophobic abuse and harassment, swearing, threatening violence and intimidation.

This is equivalent to almost 33 primary pupils being suspended on any given day for these reasons.

It is a slight improvement on 2010/11, when pupils were suspended on 6,320 occasions.

The figures show that the number one reason that primary schools suspend a child - 9,770 times last year - is for being challenging, disobedience, or continually violating school rules - known as persistent disruptive behaviour.

Others were sent home for bullying, racist abuse, sexual misconduct, drugs and alcohol, damage and theft.

The picture was different in England's secondary schools, where there was a drop across the board in suspensions, the figures show.

A DfE spokeswoman said: 'Heads now have more power than ever before to ensure strong discipline in the classroom.

'We have introduced new search powers, no-notice detentions, and have ensured heads' decisions on expulsions cannot be overruled.

'The Government is tackling the causes of exclusion by improving the quality of teaching, raising standards in literacy and numeracy, tackling disadvantage through the Pupil Premium, overhauling the special educational needs system and making radical improvements to alternative provision.'


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