Educational 'Gene-ism' and race

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The TES front page this week, with accompanying inside article by Dr Kathryn Asbury, is all about how we can predict educational achievement though genetics now - but should we?

Here's three morsels of food for thought.

First, the notion that we can actually use genetics to predict educational achievement is hotly contested. That said, there's no doubt that the Kings College, London team lead by Professor Robert Plomin is way out ahead of everyone else in the world in terms of its claims in this field of study.

Second, the article - like plenty others like it from people closely associated with Professor Plomin - seems strikingly naive in its proposals for educational policy, especially when they're considered in conjunction with the socio-political implications of basing educational policy on the routine DNA testing of all babies. Notably, in common with everything which comes out of the Plomin stable, the article claims to be about education but simply ignores the field of educational research.

Third, the researchers in this field, including the author of the TES piece, agree that social inequality and social structures bear a close relationship to genetic heredity. Explosively, Professor Robert Plomin, a signatory here, (see points 7,8,9,14,20,21) believes that black people are less intelligent than white people, that this is closely related to genetic inheritance and that this has significant implications for public policy.

There's a sense of 'gee whizz' science about the media's treatment of this new educational genism to date. And perhaps claims for genetics like the one at the top of this TES piece are over-egged. Yet through these means, educational gene-ism does appear to be back on the agenda in some form. The implications are profound.

More on this later.



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