Genetics and the egalitarian concept of education

British Education Policy

Science has an unparalleled ability to challenge our understanding of the world, even if often we are inclined to leave the challenge unmet. Recent evidence that variations in GCSE performance are partly explained by genes provides a fascinating example. To most scientists, particularly those with some background in genetics, this finding is hardly surprising; after all, almost any difference (e.g. height, weight) between individuals is usually rooted to some degree in genetic variations. As the authors of the study point out, if children receive the same ‘one-size-fits-all’ education then you would expect variations to primarily depend on genetic differences. For many of those involved in education, including both practitioners and policy-makers, the evidence makes for uncomfortable reading. The idea of something immutable to some extent determining outcomes is antithetical to the popular view of education as the realm of unbounded opportunity. This explains why many are quick to dismiss

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