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inherent ability vs environment

Posted By: Allen Lambert on December 27, 2008
The thesis promoted here, that
"what any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn if provided with appropriate prior and current conditions of learning"
is patently false, albeit dominant ideology in education.

It is a meaningless mantra that "all children can learn." Worms, rats, and pigeons can learn. But they cannot learn the same things or at the same rate or same degree, etc., as other members of their own species or other species, including humans. No creatures are born "equal" in capacity of any kind, especially "mental".

No matter what the conditions, I could never "learn" to be as good a basketball player as Michael Jordan. Nor be a physicist like Einstein or Feinman, etc. Nor compose like Bach or Mozart. Nor do as well as any number of people on most tasks, especially involving music, math, memorization, etc. Education can help one realize given potential but cannot give me what I don't have the capacity for.

Each of us has a unique combination of individual strengths and weaknesses compared to others. The right learning conditions can maximize achievement of individual innate capacity, but it cannot increase one's genetic and physiological endowment or make us equal in any and all respects compared to others.

Education would benefit from getting basic premises right and not promoting false expectations (which ultimately produce frustration and cynicism when promised outcomes not realized).

T. Allen Lambert
Ithaca, NY

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 inherent ability vs environment by Allen Lambert on December 27, 2008
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