Heredity and Environment

Syllabus Heredity and Environment and Study Material

Heredity Means: Like presents, like children. From this angle if parents are intelligent then children will also be intelligent. Thus a dog gives birth to a dog, a human being gives birth to a human being. This is called narrow concept of heredity and ‘like parents, like children’ concept is a broader term.

According to Woodworth, “Heredity covers all the factors that were present in the individual when he began life not at birth but at the time of conception about nine months before birth.”
Petersons said, “ Heredity may be defined as what one gets from his ancestral stock through his parents.

Anastasi said, “The Environment is everything that affects the individual except the genes.
Woodworth and Marquis said, ‘Environment covers all the outside factors that acted on the individual since he began life.

  • Type of Environment : Environment can be of following types:
  1. Natural Environment
  2. Social or Cultural Environment
  3. Intellectual or Mental Environment
  4. Emotional Environment
  • Can We Separate Heredity and Environment?
    So far our concern has been with heredity. This does not mean that to know what your heredity it, is to know what you are. That is only part of the truth. To come closer to understanding the whole truth, we have to examine your environment.
    Heredity and environment are generally spoken of as two separate influences on an individual’s development, but in fact, they are inter wined in fascinating and often confusing ways. In ordinary conversation, for example, we tend to speak as though heredity referred to the traits, the abilities, and the potential that a baby possesses from the moment it is born. We tend to speak as though environment were the surroundings-the home, the family, the neighborhood, the school, the world – that an individual encounters after the moment of birth.
  • When does Heredity Stop and Environment Start?
    Actually, of course, heredity is determined, not at the moment of birth, but from the moment an egg is fertilized and becomes a zygote. Most of us tend to overlook the further fact that this zygote (which develops into an embryo, a fetus, and then a baby) is immersed in an environment for nine months before it is born. Yet we must register this truth and we must think about it. For the mother’s uterus (the environment of developing fetus) can have profound effects on the baby that is eventually born.
    Drug, disease, nutrition, smoking-the effect of all of these on the unborn baby have been too long ignored. More and more about these effects is coming to be known. All doctors and most mothers know by now, for example, that if a woman has German measles around the third month of her pregnancy, she has a strong chance of bearing a defective baby. Some antibiotics, when taken by a pregnant woman, can have lasting effects on the organism developing within her. Tragic results (such as the deformed “Thalidomide” babies) have alerted us all to the danger of ignoring the fact that the mother’s baby is the unborn child’s environment.
    More research will increase our knowledge on this subject. It will have the practical result of helping us to avoid or to treat conditions that are harmful to the developing baby. We already know that during the forty weeks of pregnancy, the uterus is a relevant environment, and the way the baby develops reflects this pre - birth environment. For, after all, no zygote grows and develops into a baby in a vacuum.
    Here is something else we have to think about. We know that the drugs pregnant woman takes, and the food she eats, and the medical care she received all create different environments for the developing fetus in the mother’s uterus, and that they therefore affect the development of the baby she will deliver. But the drug the pregnant woman takes and the food she eats, and the medical care she receives differ from one society to another. They differ even from one group (the advantaged) to another (the disadvantaged) within a single society. This strongly suggests that those environmental differences which are due to socio-economic difference among people begin even before birth. In this way economics and political intrude themselves on the unborn child.
  • How to Environment and Heredity Work Together?
    People have long been fascinated by this question. Social philosophers, psychologists, and other biological scientists have found it of special interest. During the early years of this century, they discussed it heredity, referring to it sometimes as the “nature versus nurture” problem and sometimes as the “heredity versus environment” Controversy. It has of course, never been completely settled, but debate about it subsided as the general public, along with scientist, became aware that heredity and environment both play their role throughout all of life.
    Heredity and environment-always interacting with one another- both contribute to the development of an individual. This means, of course, that both contribute to the difference between one living being and another. So basic is this that we will point out, again and again, how both heredity and environment influence the development of personality, the level of mental ability, the incidence of schizophrenia (a common form of mental illness), as well as such abilities as musical talent or manual skill.

Laws of Heredity

There are some laws of heredity, whose study is necessary. The laws have been propounded by Mendal after various experiments. These laws are as under

  • Like Begets Like : This law states that as the parents so are the children, like intelligent parents have intelligent children and vice versa. But we cannot generalize this law. Sometimes beautiful parents have ugly children.
  • Law of variation : Sometimes children are not the true copy of their parents. They are many diversities. The reason is being difference in the combination of the genes of the parents. Man’s genes decides their features. This does not mean that 1st and 2nd law are contrary to each other.
  • Law of Regression : Sorenson explained the meaning of the word Regression that “sharp minded parents may have less sharp minded children. This is called regression.” Therefore, this is necessary for the teacher to know about the nature and level of the students and also about his heredity level and thus he should frame his teaching methods.

Importance of Heredity

  • As a consequence of heredity a person has different features; which become obvious with the process of development. On the basis of these differences, a teacher can plan his teaching.
  • Heredity tells about the in-born abilities of a child which helps a teacher while making a teaching plan.
  • Heredity tells about the difference in learning process.
  • Heredity provides basic instincts.
  • Heredity makes sexual differences between boy and a girl.
  • Heredity creates physical differences.

Importance of Environment

  • Environment guides in the development process of a child.
  • A teacher can understand the environment and then can create such an environment which makes expression possible.
  • Teacher can create cultural environment so that students follow the ideals.
  • Teacher can create an environment according to the interests, instincts and capabilities of the students.
  • A student spends his maximum time in family, neighbourhood and playground. Teacher can give attention to environment and can guide the students.
  • Students, emotions also affect the environment of the school. After controlling the environment the school. After controlling the environment controlled emotions can be created among the students. Thus Heredity and Environment has great importance in educating child. Teacher should have knowledge about both of them.
  • Importance or Need of Heredity and Environment for a Teacher or in the Child’s Education or Role of a Teacher.

Role of Teacher
Heredity and Environment have great role in education. Thus teacher should have knowledge about these two. Their importance is as under

  • Teacher can create conductive environment in the school so that students can learn efficiently. There should be a library, co-curricular activities, direction in studies, laboratories, playgrounds, class rooms etc.
  • Their knowledge can be attained in conductive social environment. Thus parents and teachers should help in this direction.
  • Modern education is child-centered. Thus children-need educational, professional and individual guidance. This knowledge about heredity and environment is very necessary.
  • To understand the individual differences in psychological children, knowledge about heredity and environment is very essential.
  • In the class room teacher too can guide students about growth and development but he can do so only when he has knowledge about heredity and environment.
  • Parents help is also needed for to make family environment conducive because informal education begins from home.
Please comment on Heredity and Environment


  1. abhipsa dash

    nicely explained

  2. Zao

    What is the nature of heredity?

  3. Archana

    Thank s alot for providing me such a valuable information... It helped me a lot to find my answers....


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