Nature vs Nurture : can parents really make their children smarter ?


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According to the data research in the book Freakonomics, it is not what parents do but how they are that will determine their children's school results and success in life.

In summary, they have gathered the data of 20,000 school children in Chicago, and compared hundreds of variables (math score in first grade, number of books at home, do the parents spank their children...) to look for correlations with school results.

A few variables showed a strong correlation, while others do not matter at all. For example:

Children with parents who are highly educated, had a lot of books at home or from high socioeconomic status do perform better than others.

However, having divorced parents, or moving to a better neighbourhood does not affect academic results. Taking your kids to museums or reading to them a lot also doesn't make any difference.

Whether the mother worked or not between birth and kindergarten didn't matter at all. Likewise, spaning children or letting them watch a lot of TV didn't influence negatively.

Children who had a low birthweight and adopted children didn't perform well at school, no matter the parents's educational level or how much they cared for them.

They explain that this is because adopted children typically have parents with lower IQ's, and because the mothers also didn't take as much prenatal care when they knew the child would end up being adopted. Children with low birthweight might have been born prematurely, or the mother might have had an unhealthy lifestyle during pregnancy (smoking, drugs, alcohol, bad food, negative emotions...).

Three adoption studies, two American and one British, also show that parents that dopt children are typically smarter, better educated and more highly paid than the baby's biological parents. Yet adopted children perform relatively poorly in schools, regardless of the influence of the adoptive parents.

Based on all this data and numerous researches, they conclude that genetics, prenatal care and IQ (which they consider strongly hereditary) are therefore more important than what parents do for their children's education.

This study has the merits to put less pressure on parents obssessed with their children's well-being or academic results.
I think nature and nurture also are very important, especially the parents should teach their children properly.

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