Nature vs Nurture
Document Type:Case Study
At night, she was tied into a sleeping bag which restrained her arms. She was put into an over-sized crib with a cover made of metal screening. Often she was forgotten. On those nights she slept tied to the potty chair. At first, people could hardly believe that Genie was thirteen years old. She began moving more smoothly. She was hungry to learn words, pointing at things until people would give her a word for them. A team of scientists (referred to as the Genie Team) began working with Genie. They wanted to find out what they could about how humans learn. Over 200 years ago, scientists had studied another "wild child" in France named Victor. After about six months, Genie lived in a foster home.
The father of the family she lived with was the head of the Genie Team. Genie continued to recover and develop. She ran, giggled, and smiled. People commented that in some ways she seemed like a normal 18-20-month-old child. Other strangers would go out of their way to give Genie things. Somehow her thirst for learning about her world showed. Many scientists came from all over to meet and observe Genie. They argued and debated about what research to do, as did the Genie Team itself. What could Genie best help scientists discover about learning? Could they conduct their research without interfering with her well- being? Genie's vocabulary grew by leaps and bounds, but she was still not able to string words together into meaningful sentences.
Sometimes she would be so frustrated at not being able to say what she wanted that she would grab a pencil and paper and in a few strokes, illustrate fairly complex ideas and even feelings. She scored the highest recorded score ever on tests that measure a person's ability to make sense out of chaos and to see patterns. Her abilities to understand and to think logically were also strong. She had a perfect score on an adult-level test that measured spatial abilities. One test required that she use a set of colored sticks to recreate a complicated structure from memory. Whether this was correct or not, it raised the question: Why was her brain activity so lopsided? Does the left brain develop in those critical early years of life when Genie was so isolated? Does the left brain need to receive stimulation and hear language to develop? After about five years of researching Genie's progress, the Genie Team lost their funding from the government agency that had awarded the research grant.
The scientists at this agency felt that the Genie Team was not doing good scientific research because the tests Genie was being given were not producing enough new information. At the same time that these people felt that Genie wasn't being tested enough, others felt that Genie was being over- tested. Genie's mother, encouraged by one of Genie's old teachers, tried to sue the Genie Team for "cruel" treatment of Genie. Their lawsuit claimed that Genie was exhausted by the testing and that the interests of science were being viewed as more important than Genie's personal development. She has no contact with any of the scientist who worked with her and come to love her. Several books have been written about her, and a television documentary program was also made about the story of Genie.
As educators you should understand that positive relationships and supportive interactions is the foundation of your work with young children. By applying the theory of Nature vs Nurture to your response. Does Genie's behavior stem from nature or nurture? Please support your response by reflecting on why Genie's growth and development varied at different interactions? "Did Genie have a normal learning capacity? Could a nurturing, enriched environment make up for Genie's horrible past? Nature vs. A scientist could not conclude its nature but nurture which cost her speech. She was denied good nutrition and isolation resulted in poor brain growth. Genie did not have a normal learning capacity, from the context she was good in nonverbal communication. However, if she was put in a good nurturing learning environment, she could improve.
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