Can Genetics Research Benefit Educational Interventions for All?

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Publication details

JournalThe Hastings Center report
DatePublished - 28 Sep 2015
Issue number1
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)39-42
Original languageEnglish


Pretty much everyone knows that our genes have at least something to do with how able or how high achieving we are. Some believe that we should not speak of this common knowledge, nor inquire into how genetic influence works or what it might mean. If we do not keep an open mind to the fact of genetic influence on academic achievement, however, then we cannot explore its possible implications. And if we do not consider the implications, then we cannot, as a society, harness any potential benefits or avoid possible pitfalls. So that's what this essay is about-exploring what behavioral genetics research might be able to offer to educational theory, policy, and practice. We cannot yet use biological information to make accurate predictions for all children. We do know, however, that academic achievement is heritable, which is to say that differences between individuals are influenced by differences in their DNA. If genes are part of the problem for some pupils (to take the negative spin on this), then it seems likely that studying them could be part of a solution. And that's what behavioral geneticists are trying to do-to chart and understand pathways from DNA to behavior and to identify interventions that can maximize outcomes for all. The fact is, though, that we have an awfully long way to go.

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The Hastings Center.

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