Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Education Success Determined by Our Genetics?

Recent researches suggest that an individual’s likelihood of graduating college, and therefore earning his or her degree to obtain high salary jobs, is due to “genetic lottery”.  A published study in Nature Genetics analyzed thousands of DNA variants correlating with educational attainment among 1.1 million people of European ancestry, and combining this information into a single value for each individual called a polygenic score.  Only over 10 percent of people with a low score graduated college whereas 55 percent of people with high scores completed college.  It should be taken into account however, that these data originated from an ancestrally homogenous group of people.  It does not factor in racial disparities in education.  In fact, the genetic variants of African-Americans only minimally predicted educational outcomes.

These types of conclusions are very similar to what is described as eugenics, the idea that inferior genes were to blame for poverty led to state-sponsored atrocities, including forced sterilization and institutionalization.  Some form of eugenics could still possibly exist in that people still believe in the idea that inequality is genetically determined, making a racialized hierarchy of human worth, intensify social inequities.

I believe that this information can be instead used to create a more equal society.  Educational success is partially due to genetic luck.  We are either born with the genes that benefit our education or we are not.  Having the information of which genes correlate to educational success can help to create different environments specific to the different ways that each individual learns and is educated.  Using what we know about a person’s genes, we can maximize the person’s potential and create the best learning environment for him or her.

For additional information, refer to the original article.

For additional information, click the link of the study in Nature Genetics and the article on DNA correlated with educational attainment.

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