To look at some facts I’ll examine the research of Professor David Jesson. In his report he says that there are about 500,000 pupils each year that pass through comprehensive schools; 40,000 of these pupils are in secondary modern schools and 20,000 pupils attend grammar schools. There are many grammar schools spread throughout the country. Out of 148 Local Education Authorities, 115 are comprehensive, 14 fully selective and others with some selective schools.
Looking at the GCSE results selective schools seem to do quite well. In the league table that I found published on the Times online site I looked at GCSE results for forty nine top independent, grammar and comprehensive schools. The percentage of students achieving five or more GCSEs at Grade C or above in independent schools was 100%. In grammar schools it fell very slightly, the lowest being 99% and in comprehensive it dropped again to 86%.
On the BBC news website I found the article ‘Selective school top league tables’ 23/01/03. It said that selective schools dominate the league tables, but it did also report that specialist schools did not seem any better at teaching children from the ages of 11 to 14 than non-specialist schools which receive less funding. In my opinion money can buy a different type of education and yes, maybe, a better standard. I believe that the availability of resources and funding might be the real issue that is up for debate.
Part two: Nature and Nurture debate and impact on educational achievement In the debate surrounding the topic of nature versus nurture, I believe that it is both the hereditary (nature) factor and the environmental (nurture) factor that plays a role on human intelligence, personality and behaviour. I am going to look at the different aspects of both nature and nurture trying to use an unbiased perspective.
Nature versus nurture has been a wavering debate in the field of psychology for many years; the focal point is, do people inherit genes or are their genes affected by their environment? The centre of ‘nature’ is the belief that people have their personalities engraved in their genes, which are inherited by their parents. The foundation of ‘nurture’ is that the environment plays a big role in the development of someone’s personality.
Nature (which is thought to be heredity) plays an important role on a person’s intelligence. Many case studies have been carried out and have produced very similar results. One case study, for example, measured the IQ of people within different family relationships. These included identical twins, fraternal twins, adopted children and their biological parents, and adopted children and their foster parents. It was found that identical twins, fraternal twins, adopted children and their biological parents have similar IQ’s, but adopted children and their foster parents have varied IQ’s in comparison.
It was thought that twins were very good subjects to use in this debate as they can provide information on the factors that mystify most areas of research. Bearing this in mind lets look at the different types of twins or triplets. Identical twins (or triplets, etc.) are the product of one egg that divides during development. They share all their genes and are the truest form of a clone known to nature. Fraternal twins are the product of two eggs fertilized at the same time. Despite their common birthday, fraternal twins are no more genetically alike than other siblings, sharing about half of their genes with one another. If a disease is genetic and one identical twin has it, the other will too. But that would not necessarily happen with fraternal twins.
Studies of identical twins have revealed fascinating information. Away from looking alike, more often than not they have the same behaviours and interests, even when separated by large distances and living very different lives. What are even more convincing may be the studies of individual adopted children. One person, who was adopted at the age of two months, said that she felt “alien” in her adoptive family as her interests and personality were so different from the others. At age 28 she found her birth mother and was amazed to find a woman very similar to herself. Cases like this are not common, but certainly add weight to the idea that there’s a lot more of us in our genes than just looks. Another example of identical twins that displayed inherited behavioural patterns is Jerry Levey and Mark Newman.
The two men met in a bar, both had grown up in different environments. It was soon found that they demonstrated behavioural similarities such as drinking the same beer, holding a bottle the same way (held it with the little finger stretched beneath the bottom), having the same physical gestures, being involved in the same careers. (Reunited Twins) The twins displayed these characteristics even though they grew up in different environments. This shows that it is true that heredity does play a role in determining personality.
Another relationship that was discussed before was that between adopted children and their biological parents. This is an ongoing study, and so the results are not yet known. If there is a match in the personality between the biological parents and their children in foster homes, then the nature perspective gains advantage. If there is a match between adopted children and their foster parents, however, this is due to their environment and therefore the nurture perspective gains an advantage.
Twin studies have also provided another level of complexity to the nature versus nurture debate. Researchers found that the effects of nurture can be split again into shared and non-shared. Shared environmental factors are things that children experience when they are brought up together. Non-shared environmental factors are things that are not shared by all the children, for example individual experiences. It was found that in many cases non-shared environmental effects outweigh the shared environmental effects. That is, the environmental effects that are thought to be lifechanging and shape how a child develops, for instance family life, are thought to have less of an impact than non-shared effects: these are harder to identify.
Nurture (environment), also plays a key role as a determining factor on one’s intelligence. According to Klineberg: “The successful solution of the problems presented by the tests depends on how many factors – the previous experience and education of the person tested, his degree of familiarity with the subject matter of the test his motivation or desire to obtain a good score, his emotional state, his rapport with the experimenter, his knowledge of the language in which the test is administered and also his physical health and well-being, as well as on the native capacity of the person tested. (1971) (Haralambos and Holborn)
This is because life experiences alter the influence of different factors on one’s intelligence. Factors such as the availability of education and upbringing are key players that have an impact on the all round development of a person’s intelligence. Much like a person’s environment, intelligence is ever changing though time. Education and proper upbringing is needed throughout a child’s life, starting from birth to the beginning of adulthood.
During childhood, people learn their foundations of knowledge (beliefs, customs and activities that encompass a child’s habitat). From the educational standpoint, children learn their fundamentals (reading, writing, interaction). Environment can override some genetic foundations and it can be said that intellect does not rely just on genetics as its sole factor. For example, a student that has a talent in mathematics (genetics) is likely to take more math courses in further education (environment). So in this way, the talents in mathematics (nature) along with the experience of doing well in the subject (nurture) work cooperatively. Genetics (nature) gives us the ground basics to comprehend what the environment (nurture) attempts to teach us.