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Personalized education based on DNA? Yes or No?

As science progresses, and we find out more about how our DNA influences our learning capability, should we create a personalized education system based on that information? This is one of the issues that came up during the 1 July talk by Sophie von Stumm, professor of psychology in education at the University of York, part of the pre-conference event organised by the Jacobs Foundation.

Studies suggest that as much as half of the difference in children’s school performance can be attributed to genetics. Right now, DNA-based predictions can explain about 15% so we can already account for about a third of the DNA variants that explain differences in school performance.

Professor Sophie von Stumm speaking at the pre-conference event organised by the Jacobs Foundation.

It seems like a good start, so I was surprised to hear that Professor von Stumm was against personalized education. She referred to a 2006 study that shows that education systems that track according to students’ school performance before the age of 16 become more unequal over time. She argued that overall, comprehensive school systems lead to more equality, and that personalization based on DNA would prove tricky, as top performers will always find ways to excel, beyond the school system, and bottom performers are well taken care of by comprehensive school systems.

What do other geneticists and psychologists make of this? I would be interested in a deeper conversation.

Opinions expressed in the blog posts are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of WCSJ2019

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