Monday, January 17, 2011

Poverty supresses children's genetic potential, study says

Many teachers say it's the parents' fault that their children are failing, and that teachers shouldn't be asked to do the parents' job. But what if parents simply can't do that job? Are teachers in the right when they wash their hands of their students' fates? I think not. Teachers should continue to do as much as they can for every child, and not say, as I heard one teacher say at Castle Park Elemetary, "I don't have time to help the kids who are behind." Too many teachers feel justified in placing invisible "rejected" stamps on the foreheads of kids who are "too much work."

Jan 10, 2011
Poverty supresses children's genetic potential, study says
Psychologists at University of Texas say the difference is about opportunity, not superior wealthy genes
By Adam Clark Estes

Researchers at the University of Texas claim that poverty may affect how children achieve their genetic potential. Using 750 sets of twins as subjects, the team of psychologists led by assistant professor Elliot Tucker-Drob found that 50 percent of the progress wealthier children show on mental ability tests can be attributed to genetics. Children from poor families, however, showed almost no progress attributable to genetics.

Don't get too carried away with the conclusions this might suggest. Based on this study, rich kids are not genetically superior to children of poverty. They're simply provided with more opportunities to fulfill their potential.

Of course, this conclusion holds some interesting implications for the field of childhood development. From the University of Texas announcement about the findings:

These findings go to the heart of the age-old debate about whether "nature" or "nurture" is more important to a child's development. They suggest the two work together and that the right environment can help children begin to reach their genetic potentials at a much earlier age than previously thought.

As the nation pulls out of the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression, such a breakthrough could serve to shift attention toward taking better care of America's youth.

One out of every five children in the U.S. lives in poverty. That's a lot of lost potential...

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