Education Opinion

‘Educational Genomics’ in the Classroom

By Walt Gardner — November 21, 2016 1 min read
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Anything that helps teachers design their instruction to meet the unique needs and interests of their students is worthwhile considering. The latest example is “educational genomics” (“How genetics could help future learners unlock hidden potential,” the conversation.com, Nov. 15).

Teachers have long known that students have different learning styles. For the most part, they are hard wired, with genes playing a large role. But it’s not until now that genetic variants that contribute to these traits have been identified. As a result, it may soon be possible to create a tailor-made curriculum based on a student’s DNA profile. Genomics is built on what is known about genetics but goes beyond by relying on technical advances in DNA sequencing and computational biology.

Just as each person has a unique set of fingerprints, so too does each person possess a unique DNA. But that does not mean biology is destiny in education. The environment of the classroom and the personality of the teacher still are important. I had several students who possessed obvious musical and artistic talent. The best I could do was to allow them to use these gifts in my English class in non-traditional ways. For example, instead of asking them to write a traditional essay on a given topic, I let them express their views in musical and artistic ways.

Yet I wonder how many other students had less visible talent. Perhaps genomics would have alerted me to their individual differences. That’s what’s so exciting about this new field.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.