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Nature or nurture

(49 Posts)
MissEDashwood Sun 28-May-17 04:08:38

I was having a wee chat tonight, it came about whether intelligence is nature or nurture. I came from a deprived background with parents who were young, they didn't believe in education, but some how even though my parents never did whatever the trend was back then, I excelled at school. As I don't know one of my parents my argument was nature has to have a part, as I had a really good aptitude for things, read through all the books prescribed till you leave Primary at 9, was said to have a reading and spelling age of 16. Nothing was really done at home to promote this, where other friends in top sets like me had parents who really pushed them.

My DC's both take after their DF, in looks and pretty much everything. Although there DF being with me discovered messing about at school was detrimental, he worked hard studying and working to get where he is today. So he can be quite, get your homework done the day you get it type of thing.

I'm possibly more relaxed, I'm not worried about sets, their DF wants them to be in the top set, I believe children will achieve what they can, so sets are really an issue to me. My DC's could be Park wardens for all I care, as long as they're happy that's what matters.

So I wondered where people stood on the nature / nurture debate?

I should add I'm big on reading, at the same time I can't force them to read if they don't want to. Which is why I feel we should be pleased whatever the attainment.

araiwa Sun 28-May-17 04:31:12ár

suggests nuture

BeeThirtythree Sun 28-May-17 04:39:55

Taking the example of reading, I had a twin who hated reading and I am a bookworm. DD1 loves reading, snuggling for a book...DD2 however, two pages in and the book is launched across the room, the hungry caterpillar turned butterfly mid flight!

It has always fascinated me the nature/nurture debate. Good post OP

araiwa Sun 28-May-17 04:51:49

being in top set is not just about the individual learning experience

top sets will have the strongest kids with the best work ethic and best behaviour. generally speaking

being in a low set will have bad repercussions for your kids as they are just not as good a learning experience and they will always be behind, and fall further behind the best kids. parents always want to send their kids to best schools for the best learning conditions, why wouldnt you do the same for being in the best set?

sykadelic Sun 28-May-17 05:01:57

I thought the whole nature/nurture debate had a lot more to do with emotional maturity/criminal behaviour etc but if I assume it doesn't...

Then I think it's both, which is very fence-sitter of me but hear me out.

It definitely reads like you were gifted with a higher intelligence and things came easy to you and your husband had to work for what he wanted/needed.

I refuse to believe that someone from a poorer background, with less opportunities, doesn't achieve as well as someone from an affluent background because of "nature"... that's somewhere that "nurture" definitely plays a big part. Opportunities, drive, peers etc. However I also believe that people are good at what they're good at, and enjoy what they enjoy both on nature and peer pressure.

Applying yourself is a big factor though, and children DO need to be taught good study habits. I also believe that pushing someone too hard can be detrimental, so his "sets" stuff I hope doesn't include making your children feel like failures if they're not in the top set.

My parents always said "as long as you tried your hardest, that's all I can ask" which worked well for me (as I had the drive to succeed and do well) but did not for my younger sister who used it as an excuse to be lazy (claiming she DID try her best).

Out of your more lackadaisical approach and your husbands military style, I prefer your husbands, but you don't want to push too hard.


It definitely reads like you need to take a bigger interest in your children's education, helping them to realise their own potential... but your husband needs to relax a little and not panic so much if they're not top set (because maybe they're just not meant to be... someone is always going to be better than someone else).

MissEDashwood Sun 28-May-17 05:18:00

I'm always there for home work, but like when DS had his SATs years ago we had every book going. I kept saying I'll be happy with Level 4, the average for the age.

I just know that especially with DS he resents the military style approach. I've tried so hard with reading as I love it so much. DS & DD can have any book they wish. DD is a bit better than DS but not that much.

I'm good at maths etc, when curriculum changed I got books on how it changed, I also got a book on the English terms as I can't even describe some of them. So my place is usually getting resources if that makes sense.

For DS at the moment it's them bleeding spinners, he has 5 of them.

DD loves the cube thing with the buttons etc.

Trifleorbust Sun 28-May-17 05:21:45

It is both, I have no doubt. I teach clever children with no work ethic and less clever children who excel through sheer hard work. I think the intelligence component of that is probably innate/genetic at first, but then develops based on how appropriately the child is stimulated and learning opportunities they meet.

Redredredrose Sun 28-May-17 05:57:09

According to Adam Rutherford's popular book on genetics, A Short History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, recent research is indicating intelligence is 50% nature and 50% nurture. Unlike height, which is more like 80/20. He seemed to know his stuff so I'm going to go with 50/50.

likeababyelephant Sun 28-May-17 06:08:23

What are you defining as intelligence? Academics?

Some children will thrive in a school environment. Others, not so much so even though they have potential, they end up not doing as well as they could have because of their experience in a school setting hasn't allowed them to.

QueenOfTheSkies Sun 28-May-17 07:54:17

I have 4 DC.
DC1 is highly intellegent, top of his class.
DC2 is lazy with latent cleverness, she could do very well if she bothered to try
DC3 is not acedemically clever but his memory is unrivalled and his problem solving of physical issues (building stuff etc) is amazing
DC4 is too young to really tell but signs would show she is likely to be like the eldest and very bright.

DH is very intelligent, I am clever enough if i could be bothered to try (like DC2!).

All 4 are bookworms like me and DH - they see us read all the time and bedtime stories are important.

I think what i'm getting at is its both - nature gives them their base level and nurture will improve them from there.

QueenOfTheSkies Sun 28-May-17 07:56:30

sorry, to add - i think DC2 would achieve just as much as DC1 but would have to work a lot harder for it. DC3 will not achieve as much at school i dont expect but could be as successful in other ways - likely in a trade such as builder/plumber.

TheStoic Sun 28-May-17 07:59:41

Absolutely both nature and nurture.

Also google 'growth mindset vs fixed mindset' to add another element.

Plenty of 'smart' people will never be successful - not because of their innate intelligence, not because of their environment, but because of their mindset.

Ameliablue Sun 28-May-17 08:03:36

It's both. Some will be naturally intelligent but others can learn to learn.

Jupitar Sun 28-May-17 08:20:10

I'm adopted and met my birth parents when I was 40, it's surprising how much is down to genes, even my career choices.

But then environment obviously effects children too, if theyre encouraged and helped they'll do better than if they're ignored.

Boulshired Sun 28-May-17 08:24:43

Definitely nature and nurture, and opportunities. Imagine were the world would be today if in history women, the uneducated, people of colour, even whole continents had been given the opportunity of an education. Hawkins , Einstein, Turin all men and all privileged with the opportunity to use and build on their intelligence. Their is a natural intelligence but without the right environment it cannot flourish.

bakingaddict Sun 28-May-17 08:36:03

I'm off the belief that you give kids the tools to be able to do well at school. My eldest isn't what I'd call naturally academic and I think a lot of it is down to emotional maturity, he's a very young 9 but he's now disciplined to do his homework each night even if he'd rather go on YouTube instead. It took a while of cajoling, nagging and bribery from me and DH but he now comes home from the childminder and gets straight on with homework. From being in bottom set he's now moved up 2 sets and is doing well at school

CJCreggsGoldfish Sun 28-May-17 08:42:37

I think that you can be naturally clever, but it's nurture that leads to success. At school I coasted and got straight A's. I never had to put effort in. My parents were very proud, but never ever pushed me, they never instilled an academic work ethic in me (my dad did work hard but in a manual job out the house). When I got to A level I became unstuck, I had no idea how to work, how to overcome problems, how to approach teachers to ask for help etc. When I suffered a very bad chemistry mark, my mums advice was to 'give it up'. I finally did ok, and got into a good university, later achieving an MSc, but my confidence took such a knock during that period that it took years to get it back to the extent that I've never felt I've achieved as much as I'm capable of.

I'm not going to push my children to the point of anxiety, but I do plan on teaching them how to work, and giving them the tools to succeed (whether academically or in the workplace).

Rhayader Sun 28-May-17 08:53:12

It's pretty much been proven via adopted twin studies etc to be both. Some people are naturally smart. Being in a supportive and stable environment where you are taught about things helps your brain to develop.

That said, the link between the IQ of identical twins bought up in very different households is very close once they are adults - not so much when they are children. But that is the same pattern that you see for children raised in their biological family.

Identical twins are about 85% similar for IQ and fraternal twins are 60% which would imply that IQ is 50% nature and 50% nurture.

Ylvamoon Sun 28-May-17 08:53:31

I believe in nature, you need to have the basic tools (intelligence and talents) in order to succeed.
Nurture to me is teaching children how to use their tools in a successful manner.

I believe nature = DNA, and that is ultimately who you are. You can override this to some extent through conditioning. But I also believe that this is the reason why people suffer from meant health issues (breakdowns, burn outs) and physical health issues that are directly related to the (working) environment.

Ylvamoon Sun 28-May-17 08:56:45

Sorry should read: mental health issues...
(Stupid auto correct!)

LizTaylorsFabulousTurban Sun 28-May-17 09:08:15

First of a you have to define intelligence. IQ is such a narrow and contested construct. Intelligence can be split into two distinct constructs; crystalised - intelligence that you develop as you learn - wisdom if you like, and fluid - more abstract intelligence. Then you have to acknowledge that you don't have nature without nurture and it's more a case of how and where and to what extent genes interact with the environment. For instance there is evidence from twin studies that genes influence IQ, but environmental aspects such as nutrition, parental/peer input, and stress also play a part.

primaryboodle Sun 28-May-17 09:24:18

I think nature gives us predispositions for certain types of behaviour, skills and intelligence.

Nuture can override this (if we try hard/have lots of training etc) but some people will have a natural aptitude for certain things and wont have to try as hard..

So in all i think nurture is more important but nature still has a vital role

mygorgeousmilo Sun 28-May-17 09:32:25

It's both, I'm fairly sure of it. Nature will get you far, but it's an absolute must to nurture, too. Because sometimes nature hasn't given you the tools to thrive under any circumstance. My kids are all bright (grin), but what is helping them to feel confident and to thrive, is the variation in nurture - adjusted to each ones nature. I believe, I should say, I can't know for certain! I feel that if I gave them the same type of nurture, the one that suits my own nature and what I previously considered the 'right' way to nurture kids, then only one of them would be thriving under that style IYSWIM. I can think of loads of examples of friends and their siblings, treated in a very particular way by their parents. One will have thrived in spite of their parents' neglect or dodgy style of parenting, and the other will never be able to move on from it. I would argue that if the parents had been more nurturing and attentive, then both would have thrived.

Jupitar Sun 28-May-17 09:37:53

identical twins are about 85% similar for IQ and fraternal twins are 60% which would imply that IQ is 50% nature and 50% nurture.
Not arguing, genuinely don't understand how 85% similar on identical twins translates into 50/50?

cupthejunction Sun 28-May-17 09:48:32

Boulshired Definitely nature and nurture, and opportunities. Imagine were the world would be today if in history women, the uneducated, people of colour, even whole continents had been given the opportunity of an education. Hawkins , Einstein, Turin all men and all privileged with the opportunity to use and build on their intelligence. Their is a natural intelligence but without the right environment it cannot flourish.

Brilliant point.

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