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The Overpowering Nature of Nurture

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Childcare
Wordcount: 1328 words Published: 17th Aug 2017

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"Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions." (Gladwell, 2005, p.97). We are, to a certain extent, the person we are, but the reality is that for reasons unknown to us, there are just certain people with which we do not "click." It may be ground into our genes or it may have been structured into our thoughts and beliefs by the environment. The same goes for our own first impressions. We are naturally going to look a certain way or have a certain talent that gets people's attention, but we still have the ability to change, at least partially, the first impression we show other people. There is no doubt that genetics determine a part of who we are as individuals, but nature is not the key component when considering who we become, since, as humans, we, through our social experiences and moral development, are constantly being shaped by the world in which we are surrounded.

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Every person is born into this world an individual and it is those initial seconds and minutes after we are born that show the importance nature. Jensen (2005) states, "All humans are unique because of both prenatal differences and postnatal experiences" (p.113). Our prenatal differences are significant because they determine our genes and the way our brain and body form. For example, both my parents have blue eyes and I also have blue eyes. I was also not born with any diseases or addictions because my mother took good care of her body when she was pregnant with me. My dad and my siblings have been diagnosed with ADD in the last couple years. While I have not been diagnosed, I do believe that I have it as well, at least at a minimal level or at a level I've learned to control naturally over the years. All of these factors are things that I have no control over; they are what nature has put together for me in my biological make-up. Another biological factor that many people consider is intelligence. According to Gladwell (2008), some people are born with a high level of analytical intelligence which is the type of intelligence measured by I.Q. tests. Oddly, enough, "intelligence has a threshold" (Gladwell, 2008, p.80). Therefore, despite the amount of intelligence a person is born with, the rest of that person's intelligence, the intelligence that allows us have things like "street smarts", is actually learned; it is at this point that the value of nurture comes into play.

Nurture is critical when considering the person we each become. After all, our moral development and social experiences are interlinked and both impact the way things turn out for us and various points in our lives. According to Carol Gilligan and Lawrence Kohlberg, moral development happens in a variety of stages. The stage someone actually progresses to will then vary depending on the experiences and opportunities provided. Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development has six stages and I feel that I am currently between level three and five on his scale, probably depending on the situation (Crain, 1985). In terms of the Heinz dilemma, I agree that the wife should be saved even if it means going against the law to do it. I also know that if I were the druggist, I would not want the death of the wife on my conscious, knowing I could save her. The theory Carol Gilligan created involves three stages, of which I feel I have, in most situations, progressed to the final stage of post-conventional (Hurst, 2013). Interestingly enough, I would credit my higher level of morality to a combination of a religious upbringing, a traditional family life, having to endure the death of my mom, and a sound confidence in myself. It is these social experiences that have helped me understand that while it is important for me to take care of myself, it is also important to consider the needs of others. This understanding of one's own moral development is a contributing factor for the level of success a person can achieve in addition to their social experiences.

Malcolm Gladwell emphasizes the influence of an individual's social experiences and upbringing or cultural environments; he states, "the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are" and "shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine" (2008, p.11, 19). My level of responsibility for myself and my family, the supportive environment of friends and family I possessed growing up, and the way I was taught to handle various situations have all affected me in where I've ended up and how I am today. In agreement with Gladwell (2008), Trish Nicholls, who studied the theories of Lev Vygotsky, states, "Culture provides the basic orientations that stucture the behavioural environment of the self" (1998, par.10).

I am lucky enough to say that I do feel successful at this point in my life, but without the culture I was and am currently surrounded by, I don't believe I would have been able to achieve what I have so far. For example, if my parents did not value higher education and travel, and were not veterans, my years after high school may have been significantly different. I would not have had college paid for by the government and I may not have chosen to spend the money I made working traveling. Without the travel opportunities presented to me at my university, I would not value the things I have or see the world with a global perspective. I also would probably not have as much drive to improve our education system because I wouldn't have had any recognition of how it could be better or what else exists in the world. Vygotsky discusses a zone of proximal development that describes each person as having the potential for greatness, but he also emphasizes why scaffolding and our environment are so critical in helping a person become great (Nicholls, 1998). All in all, our social experiences and the nurturing that takes place in our life do affect who we become.

It is commonly known that life and who a person becomes is the product of the decisions and path taken along the way. Gladwell (2008) describes successful people in the following way, "It is not the brightest who succeed [nature]…Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities-and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them [nurture]" (p.267). A large part of the decisions a person makes in their life relates directly to his/her moral development and the experiences he/she has. The reality, though, is that talent, a high I.Q. or the presentation of fantastic opportunities is simply not enough; people must take a combination of everything they are given and use what they know to perfect their first impression of who they really are. After all, we only have one first impression to give.


Crain, W. C. (1985). Theories of Development (pp. 118-136). N.p.: Prentice-Hall. Retrieved from http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm

Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.

Hurst, M. (2013). Carol gilligan's theory of moral development. In Education Portal. Retrieved March 20, 2014, from http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/carol-gilligans-theory-of-moral-development.html#lesson

Jensen, E. (2005). Teaching with the brain in mind (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Nicholl, T. (1998). Vygotsky. In Mathematics education: Constructivism: Vygotsky and the internet. Retrieved March 17, 2014, from http://www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/virtual/trishvyg.htm


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