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Genetic factors in children play key role in classroom

4th February 2011

Researchers have suggested that the genetic factors children bring to a school classroom are an important aspect of shaping the school environment.

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A team from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry say the genetic factors are just as influential as the broader school environment itself.

In a study of 4,000 sets of UK twins, nature and nurture was found to have an equal effect on their achievements.

The team’s report said: “The results were striking, indicating that even when previous achievement and a child's general cognitive ability are both removed, the residual achievement measure is still significantly influenced by genetic factors.”

It also said that education would benefit from “accepting that children differ genetically in how much they learn”, instead of seeing education as countering genetic differences.

Children should be seen as active participants in their education rather than passive recipients.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Haworth said: “These findings do not mean that educational quality is unimportant, in fact environmental factors were just as important as genetic factors.

“However, these results do suggest that children bring characteristics to the classroom that influence how well they will take advantage of the quality.

"Consider a classroom full of students being taught by the same teacher - some children will improve more than other children, even though their educational experience at school is the same."

The KCL team also suggest that the findings advance the case for more personalised education for children and making greater use of interactive information technology to achieve this.

 

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