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Exam results such as GCSEs may be more influenced by genetic factors than by teaching

kids examsA new research report based on a study of more than 11,000 twins suggests that inherited intelligence might account for 60 percent of performance results, with other factors such as quality of schooling counting for less. The survey was carried out by Prof Robert Plomin, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, who has been called in to brief ministers and officials at the Department for Education. The significance, according to Prof Plomin is that it might enable education to be tailored to children’s individual needs, rather than assuming that the same will suit every child.

A thoughtful paper by Brink Lindsey in The Atlantic suggests that people in advanced industrial societies develop the cognitive skills appropriate to such environments, where others from different backgrounds might not. He suggests that the inherited component of IQ needs to be developed by an appropriate environment, and that the background of the child helps to determine whether this happens. In other words, potential achievement at passing tests and exams can be brought out by the environment. If this is true, it does point the way forward to developing the unique abilities of each child by altering the environment so that it brings out those skills. It means tweaking our views of education, and tailoring it more to the latent abilities in each individual child. Fortunately modern technology is on the verge of being able to bring this about.

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