Educational Psychology: What impact does genes have on the intellectual ability of learners?

Chapter Six

Individual Differences in Learning 

6a ii). Explain the impact genes have on the intellectual ability of learners.

 What Genes Give

The question of concern here is whether genes fix intellectual ability. Genes do not fix intelligence as such; they provide the blueprint of intellectual abilities. By this, we mean that genes establish a wide range of possibilities or potentialities. These potentialities are bound to unfold in relation to the range of possible experiences that the environment can provide.

Put in another way, genes provide the raw materials for intellectual abilities and set the limits. This means that even the environmental influences modify the inherited potentials within certain limits. For example, a child may inherit a potential towards average IQ, which has its own ranges. All a teacher and the best environments can do for such a child is to help him to realize his maximum potential. These potentialities are analogous to a rubber band, which can remain unstretched or stretched to various lengths. The rubber band can be stretched all the way and it can also be stretched until it breaks. This analogy is very important for learners. It suggests that the learning environments should be arranged in a manner that will allow the rubber band to stretch to full potential but not to stunt or break. When dealing with children we must know their gifts and their limitations in order to nurture the gifts and help improve on limitations. We should not allow a child with a high intellectual gift to underachieve and we should not expect a child with an average gift to show outstanding performance. Every child should be allowed to perform within the limits of their rubber band stretchability.


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