Current Genetic Discoveries and Education: Strengths, Opportunities, and Limitations


Timothy C. Bates, School of Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistic Sciences, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ, UK; e-mail:


ABSTRACT— This article notes that many key positive developments in education originated in research on the structure and genetics of abilities, providing primary evidence for ability in disadvantaged groups and playing a critical role in demonstrating the existence of developmental learning disorders and effective interventions. It is argued that new work in genetics offers similar hope, but that widely held beliefs about genetic equipotentiality and brain plasticity act as roadblocks to research improving educational outcomes. It is suggested that rebuilding the collaborative links between educationalists and psychometric and genetic research that functioned so effectively in the early development of universal education can again underpin improved educational outcomes.