Friday, 19 February 2010

A snapshot view of the nature v nurture debate

Last night, The Daddy was telling me about a conversation he'd had with a client about the nature/nurture debate, and how said client feels it has impacted his own family.

The Daddy and I are the type of parents that spend alot of time thinking and talking about how we are bringing up our son, and our hopes and dreams for him.  I spend hours researching what we can do to ensure the best outcomes for him, and not a stone is left unturned.  But, having said all of that, I am not a pushy parent, and am not interested in how he compares to other children.  I simply want him to be the best that he can be, in all things.   And when I say in all things, I mean all things.  I want him to be confident, and kind.  I want him to be sociable, and charming.  I want him to be sporty, musical, well mannered, academic...Of course I realise that no one person can excel at everything.  But I see my job as ensuring that he can both witness and experience 'everything', so that he is able to discover what it is he can excel at, and have opportunities open to him.  

Anyway, back to the client.  This chap has seven children ranging in age from mid teens to early thirties.  All seven passed their 11+ exam without coaching or additional tuition, and went to the local grammar schools.  So far, two have gone to Oxford Uni, and two have gone to medical school.  The two that went to med school both became registrars in their 20's.  The Oxford graduate is heading up a major software development project for one of the biggest players and earning a big six figure salary.  Their father claims that they are also kind, generous, happy human beings.  Now, call me old fashioned, but it seems to me that this family has been doing something very right, so The Daddy asked him what his secret was.

He explained that he believes all his children inherited a good basic level of intelligence, so genetically had the potential.  Other than that he said the main thing he did was to read to all his children, individually, every night before bed, until the age of 15.  He also said that he always looked at their homework, and questioned/challenged them on it.  He said that to get into med school, you need to be able to demonstrate a long standing commitment to things like volunteering, sport and/or music.  

It seems to me that the one thing he didn't identify specifically, but comes across loud and clear, is that he invested time in his children. And lots of it. He took an interest in them and in what they were doing, and he gave them opportunities.  

Although this is just one small case study, it has given me the confidence to believe that my approach is not misguided.  Genetically, Star is very fortunate in the academic department.  I took all my exams between a year and eighteen months early and The Daddy won an academic scholarship to a very academic public school.  It is now our job to ensure that he has the opportunity to make the most of this.  Star will not be 'pushed' but, as I've said before, will be polished and protected to enable him to shine brightly for all his days.