Genie: Nature Versus Nurture and Keach Para.

Topics: Linguistics, Nature versus nurture, Intelligence quotient Pages: 7 (2885 words) Published: October 17, 2010
Genie: Is it Possible for Nurture to Outweigh Nature?

Is it possible that teenager, could not have the same fluency of language as most other human beings, based on the concept of nature vs. nurture, because she was heavily deprived of a nurturing environment? In Genie�s case nurture seemed to outweigh nature a great deal more. Her surroundings were a key player in her development of a �normal� human being. Not only was Genie�s lack of nurturing environment a huge question in the air, but also, was it too late for her? Was there still a chance for Genie to become part of society after being deprived for so long? �Normal� as defined by Webster is �conforming with an accepted standard or norm; natural; usual.� In the definition of �normal� a key word is �conforming.� Genie was in her situation acting in a �normal� manner. How else is a young girl �supposed� to act when her parents have her tied to a chair unable to move and only speak to her every so often? How can a person possibly develop any linguistic skills in such an environment? If one were to define Genie in terms of �normal� in comparison to the rest of society, she would not even come close. Genie is a woman, now an elder, that had the most horrific life any person could possibly imagine. Raised in isolation, Genie spent almost all of her childhood locked in her bedroom (Cronkite para. 3). She was found barely able to walk or talk, she was known as a �wild child.� �Wild Child� as defined by Stacie Keach �is a child who has grown up in severe isolation with virtually no human contact.� Every so often our society crosses path with such an unfortunate child. Genie was 13 when officers finally found her in her elderly parents home (Cronkite para. 2). It is said that she was tied to her potty chair with restraints and made to sit day after day with no communication to the outside world or her parents (Keach para. 3). For at least 10 years she was forced to sit often through the night, never learning language (Keach para. 3). For the most part, social workers agreed she was abused when she made noise, thus her lack of language. Genie was wearing a baby diaper when officers found her and uttering infantile noises (Cronkite para. 4). The question among many scientists and doctors was whether or not a nurturing environment could make up for the most unthinkable of pasts. The problem Genie faced was her lack of language. She had been �trained� by her parents to never speak, and when any noise came out of her she was abused in some way. Many psychologists, doctors, and social workers have seen the results of these actions, but taken to the extreme of every single noise and every single time, as well as the isolation she faced had a far more dramatic affect than anyone had ever seen. Another problem the doctors faced was how to handle Genie�s case, meaning where to begin her recovery. The first matter that needed to be discussed was whether or not Genie still had the capacity to learn language at all. Genie�s brain waves were recorded over four days and she seemed to show unusually high �sleep-spindle�s� which indicated possible retardation (Keach para. 25). The questions started flooding because no one was sure whether or not Genie was retarded from birth or if the �sleep-spindles were due to the access amounts of abuse throughout her childhood she was permanently damaged (Keach para. 25). Throughout the months that followed Genie�s recovery she had numerous breakthroughs. One such breakthrough was when Doctor James Kent noticed Genie�s facial expression as he left one evening. Genie had treated every person for the first few months exactly the same, showing no emotion to anyone or anything. She seemed to examine everything to its fullest but never have any facial expression. Dr. Kent , however, noticed for the first time, since Genie�s observation period began, her expression went from happy to sad as he was leaving ( Kent para. 26). The...

Bibliography: Curtiss, Susan; Fromkin , Victoria ; Rigler, David; Rigler, Marilyn; Krashen, Stephen. "An Update on the Linguistic Development of Genie." Language 2 (1975): 145-157.
Fromkin , Victoria ; Krashen, Stephen; Curtiss, Susan; Rigler, David; Rigler, Marilyn. "The Development of Language in Genie: A Case of Language Acquisition Beyond the �Critical Period�." Brain and Language 1 (1974): 81-107.
Matsuura, Chikako. "Critical Periods for Language Development-Are They Really
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Scovel, Thomas. A Time to Speak: A Psycholinguistic Inquiry into the Critical Period for Human Speech. New York : Newbury House, 1988.
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