Page 1 of 2
#1
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/11/genetics-teaching-gove-adviser

ducation in England is no better than mediocre, and billions of pounds have been wasted on pointless university courses and Sure Start schemes for young children, Michael Gove's special adviser has said in an outspoken private thesis written a few weeks before he is due to step down from his post.

Dominic Cummings, the most influential adviser to the education secretary in the past five years, also argues in a revealing 250-page paper that "real talent" is rare among the nation's teachers – and, eye-catchingly, says educationists need to better understand the impact of genetics on children. The adviser, known for making fierce demands of civil servants, writes that the endgame for the Department for Education should be to reduce its role to acting as accountants and inspectors, employing hundreds and not thousands of civil servants – and creating an environment in which private and state education would be indistinguishable.

The Cummings manifesto claims that "the education of the majority even in rich countries is between awful and mediocre", and that the quality of maths education, in particular, is poor.

"In England, few are well trained in the basics of extended writing or mathematical and scientific modelling and problem-solving," he writes.

One of the best-known and most controversial of many special advisers working in government, Cummings is due to leave Gove at the end of the year. He worked in the department for two years, having previously advised Gove before the election, although his appointment within the department was initially blocked by David Cameron's then director of communications, Andy Coulson, who regarded Cummings as untrustworthy.

Labour's Sure Start programme, aimed at pre-school age children, is sharply criticised by Cummings, who says there is little evidence for its practical impact.

He writes: "There is great political pressure to spend money on things like Sure Start, but little scientific testing, refinement and changing budgets to reinforce demonstrated success. Therefore billions have been spent with no real gains."

General government spending amounting to half a trillion pounds a year is of dubious value "of which vast amounts are wasted and it could easily divert a few billion pounds if it could prioritise to strengthen world-class humanities, maths and science departments". He questions the relevance of many degree courses, writing: "In many third-rate higher education institutions there is a large amount of 'social science' work in economics, anthropology, sociology, literary theory and so on of questionable value both from an intellectual perspective and from the perspective of students, jobs prospects."

Students, too, are criticised for not having enough work to do: "Undergraduates should be required to spend more of their time studying," he says. "The days of an essay or two per term should end."

In one of the most controversial passages of the thesis, Cummings maintains that individual child performance is mainly based on genetics and a child's IQ rather than the quality of teaching.

He says: "There is strong resistance across the political spectrum to accepting scientific evidence on genetics. Most of those that now dominate discussions on issues such as social mobility entirely ignore genetics and therefore their arguments are at best misleading and often worthless." He claims research shows that as much as 70% of a child's performance is genetically derived.

He denies his views are embarrassing for either Gove or the government, but says he wants to see an attempt to build in a more scientific way to develop a more ambitious education and training system.

But his views on genetics, government inefficiency, the examination system and the quality of teaching will confirm the worst fears of some in the education system about the underlying direction of Gove's reforms.

Cummings is highly critical of the quality of teaching, writing: "While some children will always be blessed by a brilliant teacher, by definition that is not a scaleable solution to our problems: real talent is rare and mediocrity is ubiquitous."

He argues that chains of schools with better management may represent the best way to improve teaching, as well as abandonment of responsibility for teacher training by the department.

Cummings sets out what appears to be an end point to the first wave of Gove's reforms, saying: "Hopefully, it will push the English system towards one in which the state provides a generous amount of funding per pupil, which parents can spend in any school they wish, breaking down the barrier between private-state school, while the Department for Education does little more than some regulatory accountancy, and due diligence functions."

• This article was amended on 11 October. The original referred to half a trillion pounds being spent on higher education instead of "general government spending". This has been corrected


What do you think about this? Do genes make you smart? Should we tell the smart but uneducated kids in Africa to go and start developing drugs and fusion reactors because the talent is in their genes?

Discuss!

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#2
By smart you mean having a high IQ or Learning knowledge?
Quote by Dave Mustaine
If you want to be treated intelligently, act intelligent.

#4
Quote by rolandroi
By smart you mean having a high IQ or Learning knowledge?


No idea, I'm not an education expert. I suppose in this case it means doing well in exams and at school...which might be learning knowledge? But I know a lot of people who were really unsuccessful at earlier levels of school, then hit A level and became bona-fide geniuses.

longing rusted furnace daybreak seventeen benign nine homecoming one freight car
#5
I like to think that adaptability, or learning-skills are stronger with the strongly-gened among us. IQ only tells you so much about your intelligence. For instance, my IQ is 120-130, but I'm not that smart. Other people I know of my age with similar IQ know more and are smarter, but don't pick up on new information/skills as well as I do. Where they were asking for more clarity with say, history, I understood all the causes and effects as the teacher was explaining it, while at the same time I am absolutely terrible with mathmatical formulae and other 'sciency' stuff.

The point really, is that education needs to look at things from a different perspective.
#6
Genetics are a factor in intelligence, like they are in literally everything, but they aren't everything. It's more about work ethic and willingness to learn. You could have the best genes in the world but if you can't be bothered you could still end up in McDonalds, and likewise you could have 'dumb genes' but work your ass off and get to a really good job.
#7
Well to even suggest such a statement implies that you aren't particularly smart yourself.

Problem solving and the like might be genetically influenced, although there are no continuous variables (height, intelligence, etc) that are solely genetically determined, your genes merely provide a general ballpark in which you'll end up.

Also, almost our entire education system is (rightly, in most ways) based on learning ideas and facts and concepts from the past and manipulating them. While someone's ability to do the last part might have a genetic factor, it's clear that none of the former can possibly be affected by DNA.

Basically, yet again someone has approached the nature/nurture question and felt that it was multiple choice.
...Stapling helium to penguins since 1949.
#8
Quote by BelowTheSun
Genetics are a factor in intelligence, like they are in literally everything, but they aren't everything. It's more about work ethic and willingness to learn. You could have the best genes in the world but if you can't be bothered you could still end up in McDonalds, and likewise you could have 'dumb genes' but work your ass off and get to a really good job.
On the other hand, work ethic will be influenced by your genes too...
Guitars & Gear:
Parker Nitefly M
Sumer Metal Driver
Ibanez RGD2120Z
AMT SS-11B
Two Notes Torpedo CAB
#9
Quote by Todd Hart
*snip*

Basically, yet again someone has approached the nature/nurture question and felt that it was multiple choice.


****ing /thread right here. It's amazing how many things are framed as false dilemmas.
#10
thats awesum i were genes evry day i must be like steven hawkings LOL x
🙈 🙉 🙊
#11
This man has no idea what he is talking about.
You who build these altars now

To sacrifice these children
You must not do it anymore
#12
Quote by Todd Hart
Well to even suggest such a statement implies that you aren't particularly smart yourself.

Problem solving and the like might be genetically influenced, although there are no continuous variables (height, intelligence, etc) that are solely genetically determined, your genes merely provide a general ballpark in which you'll end up.

Also, almost our entire education system is (rightly, in most ways) based on learning ideas and facts and concepts from the past and manipulating them. While someone's ability to do the last part might have a genetic factor, it's clear that none of the former can possibly be affected by DNA.

Basically, yet again someone has approached the nature/nurture question and felt that it was multiple choice.

you are a good poster 🐯
cat
#13
It's been a closed issue for a good few decades that intelligence (which IQ tests are a good indicator of) is highly heritable. Recent work has simply been making the nature of this relationship clearer.

On this point Cummings is absolutely right. A very recent paper on this issue which is under review is available in full (http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/original-paper-strong-genetic-influence.html) but it should be emphasised that this finding is pretty dull at this point and is simply a new confirmation of 50 years of previous research.
Quote by Nosferatu Man

T-shirts are a sign of degeneration and decline.
#14
I never understood that idea. Some aspects sure but pretty much everything obviously refutes it otherwise
Quote by Sliide90027
But as a bigoted lemming, you have so cry an Alinslyite slur revealing you lack of reason and sense.


Quote by MusicLord16
BOB 1. ur 20 and two u like evil things and idk if u worship the devil
#15
Quote by Todd Hart
Well to even suggest such a statement implies that you aren't particularly smart yourself.

Problem solving and the like might be genetically influenced, although there are no continuous variables (height, intelligence, etc) that are solely genetically determined, your genes merely provide a general ballpark in which you'll end up.

Also, almost our entire education system is (rightly, in most ways) based on learning ideas and facts and concepts from the past and manipulating them. While someone's ability to do the last part might have a genetic factor, it's clear that none of the former can possibly be affected by DNA.

Basically, yet again someone has approached the nature/nurture question and felt that it was multiple choice.

Yeah this.

Also have you ever noticed that all the people in charge of education here are in serious need of some education themselves?
Except mr. gove who is beyond hope.
#17
There is a word this guy has clearly never heard of which is sacred in schools. That word is differentiation, which essentially means "teach the bright kids harder stuff than the others".

He clearly hasn't got a clue what he's on about if he doesn't know we already do this.
#18
Of course nature is a big determining factor in intelligence we already knew this.
The ability to see patterns etc. cannot be taught.
Last edited by macashmack at Oct 12, 2013,
#19
Quote by macashmack
Of course nature is a big determining factor in intelligence we already knew this.
The ability to see patterns etc. cannot be taught.


It clearly can. Give someone a course on history and interpreting history and they will get better at seeing the mosaic of causes leading up to and away from an event; give someone a course on poetry and they will be able to distinguish between individual metrical feet and different metre. Our brains are so plastic that it's always wrong to say that X cannot be taught. Certainly people will start and finish at different places, but everyone (sans people with extreme autism/other psychological abnormalities) can progress.
...Stapling helium to penguins since 1949.
#20
Nature vs. nurture is a stupid argument.
THE FORUM UPDATE KILLED THE GRADIENT STAR

Baltimore Orioles: 2014 AL Eastern Division Champions, 2017: 75-84
Baltimore Ravens: 2012 World Champions, 2017: 2-1
2017 NFL Pick 'Em: 32-15
#22
Pre determined levels of intelligence don't exist. There's a lot to be said about developing basic cognitive skills between birth and two, given the massive changes within the brain at that age.
Manchester United
#23
Quote by leeb rocks
It's been a closed issue for a good few decades that intelligence (which IQ tests are a good indicator of) is highly heritable. Recent work has simply been making the nature of this relationship clearer.

On this point Cummings is absolutely right. A very recent paper on this issue which is under review is available in full (http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/original-paper-strong-genetic-influence.html) but it should be emphasised that this finding is pretty dull at this point and is simply a new confirmation of 50 years of previous research.

^^
| (• ◡•)| (❍ᴥ❍ʋ
#25
Genes play a large part in it, and but I think that plays a much more important part in primary school than later on. In primary school, if you're bright then you'll do well, if you aren't then you won't, hard work might push up the results of the top few percent. Later on in education there's more of a balance.

One of the reasons I think musical tuition is so important for young children is because it teaches them the importance of hard work and commitment- even if you're bright you still have to work or you'll never progress. This is transferable, even if they give up later on.

There's a lot of discussion at the moment that British children are getting less clever due to the 'it's not right but at least you tried' attitude that can be found in the education. I can't decide what my own opinion is.
VENUSIAN
FB SC BC TW
Patterns In The Ivy present ethnicity on an intriguing and dedicated level. ~Ambient Exotica
A mesmeric melange of yearning voice, delicate piano and carefully chosen samples. ~Lost Voices
#26
Quote by leeb rocks
It's been a closed issue for a good few decades that intelligence (which IQ tests are a good indicator of) is highly heritable. Recent work has simply been making the nature of this relationship clearer.

On this point Cummings is absolutely right. A very recent paper on this issue which is under review is available in full (http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/original-paper-strong-genetic-influence.html) but it should be emphasised that this finding is pretty dull at this point and is simply a new confirmation of 50 years of previous research.

^This
However I think it's also proven that genes account for intelligence more and more once you get older. In childhood environmental factors are equally important (is someone stimulating the child etc.) If the child is not stimulated it will not do well in school regardless of good genes.
~And the raindrops in the cars

Keep on falling from off the bars

Blocking out a good song

Playing on the radio~
#27
"Smart" is a social construct. Genes express a physical process.
Quote by Arthur Curry
it's official, vintage x metal is the saving grace of this board and/or the antichrist




e-married to
theguitarist
minterman22
tateandlyle
& alaskan_ninja

#29
except epigenetic studies to my knowledge have made no claims on intelligence
| (• ◡•)| (❍ᴥ❍ʋ
#31
Quote by metal4eva_22
Do u even genetics, brah?


I think how the child it treated at home is the biggest factor in how "smart" it becomes.

Also there is no such thing as smart, it's all about how much you care.


90% of the non-professional talk of epigenetics is simply people attempting to scramble away from the implications of behavioural genetics (10 years ago 'plasticity' was the equivalent). If epigenetics (broadly defined) played such a large role we simply wouldn't detect the large, additive heritability that we do.

And whilst a noticeable effect can often be found the home/shared environment for young children this is almost entirely washed out by the time they're approaching adulthood. It's not clear yet why this washout occurs but heritability is increasing over that time frame and continues to do so as we age.

Conservative policies in no way necessarily follow on from this but any decent education system needs to recognise it.

Quote by vintage x metal
"Smart" is a social construct. Genes express a physical process.


The metric system is a social construct but genes certainly account for differences in heights measured using it. Measuring tools aren't found lying in nature but as long as they tell us something real about the world (as decent measures of intelligence do) talk of their 'social construction' is at best misleading.
Quote by Nosferatu Man

T-shirts are a sign of degeneration and decline.
Last edited by leeb rocks at Oct 14, 2013,
#33
An important part of being "intelligent" is the quickness of wit or critical thinking or problem solving or whatever you want to call being able to apply mental faculties to a topic and receive some positive result.

And a large part of this is due to neural pathways, and how "worn" they are. We can create new neural pathways, and the more we use these neural pathways, the more effective they become. That's how experience helps increase intelligence.

However, it also means that we are limited (some would say enabled) by our neural pathways. If the right pathways are not established early enough or entrenched deeply enough, it limits intelligence. So while someone could have great neuroplasticity, if they don't receive the proper experience, they won't really be considered intelligent. It's why experience really has the final say in determining intelligence. But it does so through nature. So as many have said before, nature vs. nurture is a false dichotomy, because you can't have one without the other as they enable or limit each other.


http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_07/d_07_cl/d_07_cl_tra/d_07_cl_tra.html
#36
Genes can help to reduce stupidity, teaching can help to reduce ignorance.
Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
#39
Quote by rabidguitarist
Genes play a large part in it, and but I think that plays a much more important part in primary school than later on. In primary school, if you're bright then you'll do well, if you aren't then you won't, hard work might push up the results of the top few percent. Later on in education there's more of a balance.

One of the reasons I think musical tuition is so important for young children is because it teaches them the importance of hard work and commitment- even if you're bright you still have to work or you'll never progress. This is transferable, even if they give up later on.

There's a lot of discussion at the moment that British children are getting less clever due to the 'it's not right but at least you tried' attitude that can be found in the education. I can't decide what my own opinion is.


Nah, I think it's gonna be more noticeable in higher schools. If you're smart in primary school (the one where you're young, not sure of the english school system names..) you'll do well without trying and someone who is dumb can still kinda match your level by reading more. But then when the school gets so hard that even the bright pupil has to read a lot, the "dumb" one won't be able to keep up anymore.
You'll Never Walk Alone!
#40
That picture on the Guardian article, he looks like his professional interest in children's genes involves splicing them with frogs or something.

The nature/nurture debate is as old as time itself and anyone with an ounce of intelligence realises that they aren't in the slightest mutually exclusive. At the same time, reliable means of measuring someone's 'natural ability' simply don't exist, measurements such as IQ are becoming increasingly arbitrary as most scientists contend that there are multiple types of intelligence, which makes perfect sense. We're nowhere near cataloging all the varieties of intelligence, we've made a good start, there's some nice parametres for measuring emotional intelligence, but we're a long way from a reliable means of measuring someone's inherent intelligence.

So until such point as we map the nuerological network of the human mind (which we're having about as much luck with as mapping the cosmos), I think it's best to leave such rediculously incomplete research out of the education system, which has done nothing but improve with time under both Labour and the Conservatives.

Edit: The word 'Intelligence' lines up four times, that is frikken awesome.
Vinland, Vinland Über Alles

"Why do they still call me a warlord? And mad? All I want to do is create the perfect genetic soldier!"
Page 1 of 2