The Case for Customized Learning

G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement, recently reviewed in The Economist, provides some compelling reasons to individualize learning. The authors believe that the best way to achieve equality in education is when “everyone’s genetic endowment is given the maximum opportunity to flourish. The purpose of education, they believe, should be to identify that endowment and work with it, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to learning.”

The co-authors, Asbury and Plomin are both American psychologists who specialize in the field of behavioral genetics.  They have used twin studies to ascertain that “a large proportion of the diffnce in outcomes in school is caused by genes.”  They contend that, except in rare cases like genetic abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome, there are no special needs.”  Instead, they view every child as special, entitled to a specialized curriculum.

They emphasize that genetic effects in learning account for “80% of differences in learning to read, 60-70% in math, and 50-60% in science.” They also believe that a child’s belief in  how good he is in a subject is “about 50% under genetic control.”  They do concede that environmental factors also play a part in academic success, but they admit that socio-economic status may also be genetically determined.

I have long held the belief that the most effective method of learning is personalized tutorials, which is the method I have designed into all of the Handle Associates programs. My students are proof of that model, as we embark on nearly  two decades of student achievement.

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