As a voracious reader, I take satisfaction in keeping up with the newest developments in every field of human activity, particularly education. My interest peaked when I read a magazine story about how academics utilize genetic data from students to customize their education. At the same time, I was humiliated by the ethical considerations of using eugenics in education. As a black guy, I have studied the critical eugenic studies used to support allegations that black people are not as intellectual as other ethnicities.
Before dismissing the concept entirely, I read the full article before forming hypotheses. Researchers seek to customize learning by allowing schools to construct personalized education packages based on a student’s DNA profile.
I concluded that, like its forerunners, this new wave of eugenics could spread dangerous and damaging ideas and conclusions concerning intelligence’s genetic heredity. Even if the scientists’ goals are reasonable, we should discuss the process of how education policy and legislation should regulate this new age of genetic predicting.
What will the Next Ten Years Bring?
Human genomics research has exploded in popularity during the last decade. Educational genomics is a branch of genetics that aims to extract and discover the genetic variables that influence individual differences in performance, motivation, behavior, and intelligence. As we mentioned before, attempting to link DNA and IQ is a risky proposition.
According to recent genetic studies, more than 500 genes have a potential effect on IQ test scores. Similar findings have been used to claim that some races are genetically inclined to be intellectually superior while others are genetically destined to be intellectually inferior. Fortunately, these studies were refuted and revealed to be false, but their legacy continues, with many individuals thinking of them as genuine.
Recent educational genomics genetic studies neither claim to show the existence of a single gene or genetic element that determines learning ability nor that their findings can explain the complexities of the learning process. Furthermore, it is too difficult for education researchers to assess a person’s genotype, and their complete genetic composition and compare it to intelligence, learning, or student outcomes.
Today, education genomics aims to uncover patterns in millions of people’s genetic data, expecting that this information will help them explain how genetics influences our cognitions, behaviors, motivation, etc.
Where Educational Genomics can Make a Difference
Proponents of educational genomics say that their study is not harmful and may be used to customize the teaching and learning process to meet the requirements of each student. I must admit that this is a fascinating notion, and if it is true, I can see how it may be beneficial.
“precision education” is gaining traction among educators, psychologists, neuroscientists, and genomics researchers. As a result, they can completely comprehend how the human brain develops new concepts and abilities. Precision education is an emerging discipline of brain science that aims to get a more nuanced knowledge of the teaching and learning process by exploring and investigating the human mind, brain, and genome.
I’m looking forward to seeing how education genomics can help bring in a new era of evidence-based policies and programs in the curriculum. “Genome-wide polygenic scoring (GPS)” is a recent advancement in educational genomics that I find intriguing. For predicting a given psychological or behavioral attribute, a polygenic score is created by extracting and evaluating several genetic markers.
It may soon be feasible to forecast academic progress in schools attributable to the modern world’s enhanced computer processing capability. This new era in educational genomics is still in its early stages, but it holds a lot of potential, even if it will take decades to master. I’ve read the research that claims to have refined this ability, yet the evidence contradicts this.
Educational Genomics’ Unintended Consequences
There is a risk of severe abuses whenever an area of investigation expands faster than rules, laws, and policies. On one side, the discipline can assist in customizing and differentiating training. Still, it also has the potential to propagate the myth that IQ is fixed and ultimately determined by heredity. This might lead to a dystopian school system where students are divided into groups based on their DNA profiles, preventing their fundamental skills and efforts from being promoted or recognized.
The situation reminds me of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman in the film Gattaca. The film depicts a dystopian future civilization ruled and driven by eugenics. Children are made via genetic selection to guarantee that they inherit the best-inherited features from both parents. Vincent Freemen, played by Hawke, is the film’s main character, who has created the conservative method and battled genetic discrimination to realize his ambition of traveling to space. The video expresses worry about the topic of eugenics and the potential ramifications of scientific advancements on our society.
Furthermore, the concept of educational genomics is not without its flaws. There are grounds to assume that genetically based intelligence tests are severely faulty. Moreover, techniques such as GPS have a meager predictive value. Unethical businesses emerge from the shadows when questionable research causes a public outcry to make fast cash.
This is already happening in educational genomics and eugenics, with commercial firms providing DNA tests that falsely claim to predict the future IQ of the owner of the evaluated genome. This assessment form may overshadow nurturance, school and teacher quality, food, early trauma, stress, and other factors that genuinely impact intellect.
Parents may wish to utilize this knowledge to anticipate a child’s future educational and physical talents and “artificially choose future generations,” a more immediate worry. Parents worldwide are already doing this, albeit on a limited scale. Researchers in eugenics appears to be fascinated with deciphering the genetic blueprint for high IQ.
This offers a situation where world leaders may deploy selective intelligence to construct an “Übermensch” (supermen) civilization. In his 1883 book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche originated the phrase. In turn, Hitler utilized Nietzsche’s notion of the “Übermensch” (Superman) to depict his vision of a physically superior Aryan or Germanic master race; a racialized version of Nietzsche’s Übermensch became the basic conceptual foundation for National Socialist ideology.
The fact is that the idea of personalizing instruction through educational genomics is still in its early phase. We are right to recall the horrible history of educational genomics and eugenics since those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The field’s viability and the potentially disastrous repercussions of its work need controlled, empirical study.
We must guarantee that we understand how genetic datafication of student ability will affect how students are handled and how their self-esteem and motivation are influenced. If we’re not cautious, educational genomics might wind up like the Rosenthal-Jacobs Study, which resulted in students acting by their self-fulfilling prophecies (Pygmalion Effect) or their teacher’s expectations.