| | | | Contact us now to start your child on the road to confidence and success.  Call us on 0191 378 2762 or use our contact form. | | Workshops at Chester-le-Street on a Wednesday and Durham on a Saturday morning open all through the summer except for 12 th August and 2nd September. Come along when you can. |

Nature versus Nurture

I read an interesting article about Dominic Cummings. I have to admit I had never heard of Mr Cummings but apparently he was an influential policy advisor to Mr Gove, the former secretary of State for Education. Mr Cummings is therefore influential on the decisions made that affect all our children.

Mr Cummings had irritated the famous geneticist, Steve Jones, by suggesting that 70% of a child’s capacity to learn is genetic and therefore not environmental. This means that environmental factors (such as education) can have only a limited impact on the results an individual child can achieve and some children are therefore doomed to fail.

Steve Jones explained why he thought Mr Cummings was wrong, “The more geneticists learn about DNA, the more clearly we see the impact of environmental factors. For example, the heritability of height is very high – around 80% for adults – yet even here nature can be trumped by nurture. The Welsh, once famously short, have shot up by an average of 2 inches since the early 1950s.” He also pointed out that the effect of nurture can work even more rapidly. E.g. The IQ of an individual poor child adopted into a well – off household usually rises by several points.

This debate is called the Nature/ Nurture debate and has been raging in academic circles for decades. I like the word Nurture because that describes what we do at MagiKats in Durham. We guide each individual child and lead them to grow intellectually and to achieve. I refuse to be lured into the narrow way of measuring the value of education by counting how many of our students get to university. Probably the majority of our students do go on to university, and I can name at least half a dozen of these students that have been labelled with a learning disability by the time they had left primary school.

However, just as importantly, all our students learn that hard work can bring success. They learn to communicate effectively with others and take pleasure in using English skilfully. Through this they gain self-esteem and self–worth. Students on our maths programme learn how to reason mathematically and prepare themselves for everyday life as well as for sophisticated careers.

But what about exams? We have to prepare pupils for exams. Nothing is more disheartening than “not making the grade”. Our exam preparation classes work and can push up a pupil’s grade so our pupils can face their exams with confidence. However, the expert use of English and mathematical reasoning are skills that will prove satisfying and useful for a lifetime, long after the pride at making the grade has passed.

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