Maths and reading skills found to be 75 per cent genetic

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Plazma Inferno!, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Families, teachers and schools had a much more modest contribution when explaining the difference in academic performance of children in the same grade or class. The majority of difference between students' abilities in literacy and numeracy were instead attributable to their genetic make-up.
    Australian research into the academic performance of twins in NAPLAN tests has revealed that skills in maths, reading and spelling are up to 75% genetic. Genetics also had a 50% impact on writing skills.
    In stark contrast, the influence of teachers and schools on students was only found to be around 5%, when looking at why children performed better or worse than their peers.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The ability to read or add numbers at all is 100% genetic - Homo sapiens can do it, not many others can.

    So the question would be: 75% of what? Do they know what they are measuring? One of the basic problems with twin studies of socially influenced matters is that twins look and sound and smell alike - even fraternal twins resemble each other more than do random persons - and so they tend to be treated alike in certain ways even in widely separated environs by completely different people.
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  5. river

    Hmmm.... But what about the Family influence ?

    The enviroment one grows up in.
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  7. river

    Ah ...I see Families right at very begining of this thread post has not been addressed .....interesting.
  8. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    If that is really the case, it doesn't really make much sense to penalize teachers or entire school systems for the academic failure of a batch of genetically disadvantaged children, does it?

    About as much sense as trying to put together pro basketball team from Munchkinville. It would only work if everyone were forced to select their pro teams from the same vicinity, or put a regulation height restriction on the players. Believe it or not, that might actually work as well or better than the way it is currently done. Who really gives a damn if a ball goes through a regulation height hoop or not? I certainly don't. The entertainment value of the game might actually go up.

    Dyslexia and dyscalcula have been with us a long time, and they are selective disadvantages for many endeavors, but not all of them. It's nature's way, and if you don't like it, go and find yourself another planet to suck your air from. And if you want to be a tall basketball player, go put together your own league.
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  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I agree that homo sapiens have the most versatile brain, which enables us to think in deep abstract ways.

    However the rudiments of mathematics is probably very common in Nature. The Lemur (a very distant cousin of humans can count (knowing the difference between *more* or *less* of something) as well as any human.
    Koko the Gorilla can understand some 2000 words and actually sign abstract ideas. When Robin Williams visited her she made hime wear a bunny suit and when he complied she was delighted with her little joke.
    A chameleon is able to *measure* the exact distance needed for it to be able to reach its tongue and capture its prey. Cuttlefish (a very intelligent mollusk) can shape and color themselves to their environment and become invisible. A true shapeshifter which is impossible for humans.
    Bats and whales use *sonar* to navigate and locate prey. Mayflies communicate through emitting pheromones over a range of some 20 miles. Even the lowly slime mold is able to solve a maze to a food source, through subtraction.

    In a mathematical universe it should not be a surprise that many species (individually or as a hive-mind) have evolved to solve their own unique mathematical requirements (Necessity).

    The point of all this is that all sentient species have *sufficient* intelligence (brain produced action) for survival in their environment.

    The two key words here are *Necessity and Sufficiency*. All species with even rudimentary brains have specialized abilities which far outstrip human abilities. The reason is that their environment *necessitated* the devopment of specific abilities, but had no *need* for any other mental abilities (thought).

    Our advantage is that what we are lacking in cognitive and communication abilities, we can compensate for with machines.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
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  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I think one needs to distinguish between maths or reading "ability" and "achievement". Schools may be able to do little about innate ability, but they certainly can affect the level of achievement, by the effectiveness of their teaching. We've seen school results transformed, by different/better teaching.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
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  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Is Plasma Inferno! an A I?
  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    That is such a curious question, it warrants an explanation.
  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I agree that a good teacher can have a tremendous influence on his/her students, but does that translate into "school results have transformed"? Better grades does not prove that students are performing better, but could be a result of a more flexible school grading systems.

    The question is if the quality of student knowledge is improving, not if the schools show higher grades.

    When I finished HS in Holland, I emigrated to the US and my first job was for a cleaning service. One of the clients was a College and on the black-board I saw mathematical problems which I had to study in 10th grade of my old HS. Looking back it reminds me of the movie *Goodwil Hunting" (no other claim implied).

    IMO, the question should be if US students are performing better IN school, not if the school does a better job of teaching in general. I believe that computers and the internet are in great part responsible for any improvement in general knowledge of math and science.
  14. Buckaroo Banzai Mentat Registered Senior Member

    Dyslexia at least is apparently significantly non-genetic in the sense that one's first language has a strong correlation with the odds of developing it. The less direct correspondence there is between spoken and written language, the higher the odds of dyslexia. And even after dyslexia develops, there are specialized trainings that can ameliorate their skills, somewhat like one can even be a reasonable musician despite not having developed a perfect pitch early on.

    Simply believing that traits that unquestionably depend on learning are genetic/immutable is the recipe of disaster, as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy*, with the potential of becoming a collective-fulfilling prophecy, specially damaging for disadvantaged populations as this belief is turned into political practice (but also worse for the population as a whole as less investment in education for such populations certainly has externalities, collateral effects for the whole).

    Note that I'm not saying that there is no relevant genetic influence whatsoever, or that anyone can be trained to be a super-genius, people of any height or physical development can play any sport just as well, or whatever, those would be straw-men of the argument. It's simply that social conditions can't be reduced to simple "phenotypes" as hair color, height.

    * "The “entity orientation” that says “You are smart or not, end of story,” leads to bad outcomes—a result that has been confirmed by many other studies. (The relevance for math is shown by researchers at Oklahoma City who recently found that belief in inborn math ability may be responsible for much of the gender gap in mathematics.)"
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