Nature Vs. Nurture

I noticed that Scott’s been a little obsessed with forebears, progeny, and such. See the following challenges on the Dailypost:

Learned or inherited?

Image by jbrownell via Flickr

I took some time to mull these matters over in light of many events happening around me. I thought of my parents’ generation. My mother came from a large family, by any standard. They were 9 siblings. Although they all came from the same womb, I can safely say, they are not all alike. And this is even if some of them lived close together, been in business together, raised their children together, and moved in the same social circle.

We often wonder which exerts more influence over what people become? Nature versus nurture, they often say. A child born with a certain intelligence and temperament is raised in a certain environment under the guidance of certain parental figures. Voila! A new person emerges.

One would think that siblings, having been raised in the same household, would embrace the values and principles of their progenitors.  And if they were schooled similarly, as in attended the same religiously oriented schools, and cared for by the same caregivers, even, they’d be quite similar, right?  It turns out that this does not translate to the seemingly obvious conclusion.

There are quite a few variables to consider:  One is the ability of the parental figure(s) to communicate their values whether verbally, by modelling, or in their way of handling challenges as they arise.  In all these cases, it takes for the parental figure(s) to be not just physically present but to also be focused.  The other variable is the ability of the siblings individually to absorb, analyze, adapt, embrace, reject, defy or ignore the communicated values.  This will vary among siblings.

I have learned in a recent class I attended, that there are what you call fixed learners and growth learners.  Or learners and non-learners.  Then there is the issue of intelligence.  A lot of people go through life believing that they are born with a certain intelligence that is fixed. They’re either smart or dumb and they have to live with it for the rest of their lives.  Well, intelligence is not only elastic and resilient.  It never stops to develop in individuals who don’t give up on learning.  One’s IQ (Intelligence Quotient, a sad measure of intelligence) is never static.

It is interesting how within a family, one member can be ultra-religious and another an atheist. Or one can be a lying, cheating, amoral scum while another can be an wise and benevolent upstanding member of society.  How could they have come from the same household?

As you have probably gleaned, I have a large extended family.  We are all connected by some common forebears.  With some, I’d like to think that the link starts and ends there.  With others, we continue to celebrate our relatedness.

This entry was posted in Family, Family Members, intelligence, learning, Parenting, Siblings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Nature Vs. Nurture

  1. Pingback: To Nature or Nurture That is the Question « The Epigenetics Project Blog

  2. eof737 says:

    You did a great job dissecting a complex genetic conversation… It is is not as cut and dry as the questions Scott gave us suggest, which makes it difficult to give a straight answer to his questions. As a mom of twins and from a large family myself, I have experienced the profound difference that exists with families who share every thing including genetic markers. TY! 🙂


  3. First, Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your beautiful family and the wonderful past and present with them. My siblings and I were nurtured my the same amazing and loving parents. At first, I thought we all have so many common qualities but as we get older and have families of our own, I realized that we were all different, independent and unique individuals. We can all be in different parts of the world and still make it as individuals. I guess partly that is because we were raised to be self supporting, to follow our dreams and make a name for ourselves. I still miss my siblings and the childhood we shared, I wish one day fate will all draw us to live in place where distance is not an obstacle. God bless you and your family.


  4. MOL says:

    Hello, Auntie Uta! I learned that different people can be different at different times with regards learning. As a whole, fixed learners or non-learners are those who have achieved a certain level of “learnedness” and who are preoccupied with looking good to others. Because of this, they are afraid to be found ignorant or have inadequate knowledge about some things. They tend to be close-minded and not receptive to new things. They will not admit mistakes for fear they will be found out—that they are really lacking or wanting.

    All of us have inadequate knowledge. Everyday is an adventure into learning more and more. Growth learners are those not afraid to fail. They constantly ask the “stupid questions” that fixed learners will not even dare verbalize. They stumble and fall but they pick themselves up again and push on, just like a baby learning to walk.

    It is because of this that we know intelligence to be ever the fluid state of everyone’s consciousness. I hope I made some sense to you.


    • auntyuta says:

      Yes, of course what you explain makes sense to me. I am sure I tend to learn new things differently at different times. When I feel at ease and not anxious to be examined about what I’ve learned, then I might remember things better. For instance I love to learn new words. However it takes me a long time to use them properly. I love to play Scrabble. I have a list of two- and three-letter words that can be used for the game.The words from the list which I use frequently, I have no problem remembering them. Strangely enough even after years of playing there are still a few words that just don’t stick to my mind!
      I am not afraid to ask ‘stupid questions’. I have a friend who’s very interested in finding
      information about certain health aspects. When she reads up on it, she can clearly
      explain to me all the details about the subject. How can she remember it all? I may be
      interested in the subject as much as she is. However it takes me half a dozen times of
      reading up on it before I can truely remember some of it for good. It’s not that I am lacking in understanding if something is presented to me in clear, simple language. And I am definitely interested in lots of things, meaning I always want to underatnd more and more and increase my knowledge about something that interests me. I know I can learn new things if I put my mind to it. I just wished I was able to remember more of the stuff I’ve been reading over a life-time. Why do I tend to forget so much?


  5. auntyuta says:

    This is a very interesting subject. My own family and my extended family is a good example of how siblings can differ enormously. You say , one’s IQ is never static. This is a very interesting concept . I have a lot of questions too about learners and non-learners. Where does memory for instance come into it? What good is it, if you are able to understand certain things while you are reading about them, but then have after some time difficulty memorising what you’ve been reading?


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