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Post No.: 0882adopted


Furrywisepuppy says:


Different approaches to teaching, teacher training levels on the subjects they teach, and family socio-economic status conditions, result in different academic outcomes in pupils. Measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading, maths and science. Being poor also correlates strongly with poorer performance, as well as with being an ethnic minority in a country. But the key variable is poverty (e.g. poor white children tend to perform worse than affluent white children in the USA).


Parental education matters, but this alone doesn’t tell us whether a child inherits their parents’ intelligence genetically and/or it’s because children of well-educated parents receive better educational support and are exposed to a richer learning environment of stimulating materials around the home, or because they’ll tend to be raised in more affluent neighbourhoods with better schools?


Kids adopted into more stable and affluent families do perform much better than those who remain in poorer neighbourhoods. The age of adoption matters too – the younger one is adopted the better (preferably before 12 months old) since early experiences before formal schooling even begins likely already contribute to the education gap in US studies. Children who receive poor nutrition or impoverished social interactions early in life also struggle to recover later on.


So educational attainment isn’t just about innate ability but the environment that children grow up in. It’s not necessarily the case that adopted kids (and of course adoptive families are usually at least more stable and affluent than birth families) perform better because they then receive better parenting though – the potential confound is that it could be just because they send their adopted kids to better schools in wealthier neighbourhoods? And it doesn’t mean that genetics doesn’t play a role in IQ or academic achievement because it does – it just means that such genetic differences cannot be reliably inferred from a person being categorised as either ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘Asian’ or any other ethnicity.


‘Cumulative culture’ means learning from previous generations, improving on it, then passing that knowledge on, etc. (e.g. evolving a language or the design of an automotive vehicle). This is related to cultural memes and memetics. ‘Niche construction’ is when organisms evolve to shape their own environment, which in turn affects their genetic evolution, which in turn affects how they shape their own environment, etc. in a feedback loop. A species is shaped by both its genetic evolution and cultural evolution across multiple generations (gene-culture co-evolution). An offspring inherits the lessons (social learning) taught by, and the wider environment (ecological inheritance) shaped by, their parents (and others), and not just their genetics.


Genetic differences may help explain differences between individual children but they aren’t likely the source of the so-called ‘achievement gap’ between racial groups in the US – adoption studies show us that the differences between different racial identity groups of children can be eliminated if all children are equally raised in stable, affluent communities with strong schools. Children adopted from orphanages early enough will typically have IQs that are on par with the rest of the population, but children who are left in orphanages will tend to have severely low IQs. One study showed that black children adopted before 12 months of age by wealthy white families scored on average higher than white children on average in academic achievement.


How much is a child’s aptitude for hard work and perseverance down to their inherited genetics or their inherited environment like their upbringing experiences and parents’ parental methods? And if it’s down to their upbringing then how much is their parents’ parenting methods and upbringing styles down to their own inherited genetics or own parents’ parenting methods (i.e. the child’s grandparents)?! And so forth… Whatever the case, it reveals that we cannot really morally blame any child because they inherited without choice both their genes and upbringing experiences from others. From a parent-and-child relationship perspective though – if there’s anyone to blame then a parent would be more culpable than a child.


Success depends on far more than one’s genetics – it requires nurture, opportunity and support. So if you and your spouse are both, perhaps, top cyclists – inferring your and your spouse’s genomes won’t be enough to know for certain how your biological offspring together will turn out. Not only does each sperm and egg contain only 50% of the father’s and mother’s DNA respectively hence this DNA from the sperm and egg nuclei might combine in ways that create rare results (the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) only comes from the mother’s egg though) – there are the effects of epigenetics and chance new mutations, never mind the entire area of nurture/environmental factors and how they interact complexly with these genetic factors. (Environmental factors include one’s upbringing, nurture and culture because one’s parents, guardians and other people and what they feed you, do to you, teach you, influence you, etc. are, from one’s perspective, coming from one’s environment – or outside of oneself.)


Regarding losing time from school – holidays taken during school term time are controversial. It could depend on whether a child was taken during a crucial academic period, whether the trip was important itself, whether they’re too long or frequent, and ultimately if the child can catch up with the rest of the class in time. Maybe if a child’s academic grades suffer as a result then his/her parents or guardians should be fined, otherwise there’s no problem?


Do holidays abroad ‘broaden the mind’ more than books or videos when it comes to learning about new cultures anyway? Well most people who go on holiday only go to the typical tourist traps, they don’t fully embrace the foreign food, they stay in accommodation that isn’t representative of how most of the locals live, they barely learn the language, never mind engage with the locals, and thus they actually learn little new! Firsthand experience is undoubtedly crucial when it comes to learning how to do things (practice is essentially increasing one’s experience), and it can definitely enhance one’s education when trying to learn about other cultures. But just because we experience something firsthand, it won’t necessarily mean we’ll know what’s (really) going on (e.g. we can witness shop staff in a foreign country using calculators for even the most basic sums and not understand that this is only so that they can clearly prove that they’re not cheating their customers).


Regarding truancy – in most cases, truant children come from deprived families or have complex needs, thus punishing these families with financial penalties just makes their situation worse.


During the lockdown periods of COVID-19 – immediate lives were put at risk when children were made to return to school too soon, but their long-term lives were put at risk if they missed too much schooling during these optimal ages for learning. Those from the poorest households had the least access to online learning (computers and internet access) so their disadvantages further compounded when they couldn’t attend school.


The mental health, social skills, development and career prospects of all students were potentially at stake. These students will become the workers of tomorrow too thus it may have impacted upon the future national economy. (Lives are more important than money, yet money and lives are linked – whether to fund healthcare services or to help those in poverty.) And if in the future we’ll have more people working from home then such employees can be more flexibly physically located – including abroad and anywhere in the world. This exposes local workers to greater global competition – thus if other countries were getting their children back to school sooner then those children were going to have an advantage over those who returned later (all else being equal). Predicting the future is difficult however (especially regarding the world of work in a potential era of widespread AI) and politicians faced tricky dilemmas when it came to lockdown decisions.


There are optimal ages for learning. Although for different mechanisms, it’s not just the brain (e.g. one’s attitudes, habits) that becomes increasingly harder to change as one ages as an adult either – the body becomes harder or naturally impossible to change once one is an adult too (e.g. one’ build, height). This demonstrates the importance of neither under nor over nourishing children. Prevention is far better than attempting cure. Change as an adult is in most cases still possible but the work required is going to be greater and it’ll take longer (e.g. more attention, more effort, a change of environment).


It’s generally much harder to teach an adult how to question and change their own beliefs or ways of thinking. So probably a few of the most important things to teach a child as young as possible are critical thinking skills, having diversity/openness of mind and humility. Teach them how to learn better. And if a child can enjoy applying effort (so reward their good efforts more than their results), be intrigued by mistakes (which again relates to not focusing on the pressure of results or the fear of failure), relish challenges and keep on learning, then they’ll more likely be fine in life. With these skills they can learn and adapt to anything. Woof!


…Expanding on the topic of adoption – I reckon that people should be judged by what they do more than who they were born as or what they were born with. So we should most love those who have been and are there for us and love us regardless of their biological relationship with us, over those who are more genetically related to us but didn’t and don’t practically care about us. For most families – those who are most genetically related to us and are most there for us are the same people; but for those who are adopted or who have furry half or step-siblings and the like, they mightn’t be the same people.


It’ll depend on the reasons why a biologically-related elder has been absent from one’s life, but don’t forsake those who actually lovingly raised you or were there for you over more genetically-related kin.


There’s indeed a special connection between a child and his/her real biological parents – a child adopted from birth (especially after seeing a picture of his/her real parents or hearing a story about them) will likely become curious and wish to find out more about them and know the answer to why they left. But favour those who’ve been in your life over those who’ve not, whether they’re genetic blood or not. Credit should go to whom put in the time, energy and other resources to attend to you. Having the unprotected sex to conceive you is the easy part (particularly for the father)! Blood may be thicker than water but care and attention are thicker than blood. And if one or both of your parents did neglect or abandon you without good justification then it won’t mean you’re genetically fated to become someone who’ll neglect or abandon others too. You’re also not obliged to uphold the wishes and legacy of your parents if they, say, had disagreeable visions. Be your own person. Family loyalty is strong yet should never really override morality and humanity.


If, when I grow older, I sleep around and father several puppies whom I don’t care about – will that mean those puppies will owe me something?! True, you wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for your biological parents, but you’d have had a miserable existence if it weren’t for those who actually adopted, protected and nurtured you.


Humans are said to be ~60% genetically similar to bananas, thus should every person give ~60% of a damn about finding every banana in the world as if they’re their relatives?(!) Alternatively, shouldn’t people give >99% of a damn about every other fellow human in the world?


Woof. If you were adopted then you can share your personal thoughts on the topic via the Twitter comment button below.


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