In the following article, Sarah Ford uses the sorting hat in Harry Potter to illustrate the middle ground that may exist in the debate. In the clip embedded here, we see Harry putting on the sorting house to determine with of the four Hogwarts houses he would belong to during his time at the school. The sorting hat looks inside Harry to see that he is brave but with a thirst to prove himself – therefore being a suitable candidate for either Slytherin or Gryffindor. Harry’s repeated, ‘not Slytherin, not Slytherin, not Slytherin’ illustrates Harry’s desire to be in the ‘good’ house – Gryffindor. Harry’s nature showed the thinking hat that he would be successful in either house but Harry made a choice (nurture link).
Discover More Harry Potter and the Nature versus Nurture Debate
The link below takes students to a useful guided self-study information and work sheet on the nature versus nurture debate. After students have completed this, teachers can go through their answers and notes, making links to the assessment in the examination. That is, what material might be considering AO1 knowledge and understanding and what would be AO2 evaluation and analysis?
Discover More The individual and society
Another topic within which the nature versus nurture debate can be contextualised is athletics. This 5 minute BBC clip (shown during the 2012 London Olympic Games) asks why so many black athletes are world champions? It refers back to the Berlin games of 1936 and Hitler’s intent to create a ‘superior Aryan race’ – somewhat undermined by Jesse Owens, quadruple gold winner.
Film and literature can be well-placed to illustrate key sociological ideas, an example being Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. In the play, Russell illustrates the effects of family upbringing (nurture) on an individual’s life with Mickey saying at the end of the play, “I could have been him”. Some useful notes which accompany the play can be found here, which contextualise the content to the individual and society can be found here:
Discover More Nature Nurture Worksheet.pdf
Anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota (http://www.maryannochota.com) hosts a non-sensationalised website providing stories of feral children at feralchildren.info. Here she outlines different cases and discusses feral children within a wider brain biology/psychology context. Students could be set the task of choosing one feral child case study and writing a profile of that child. Points to include could be the animals with which they had lived, the skills we would expect them to have but which they did not have, ‘unusual’ skills they demonstrated and so on. If available, any information on why they had ended up living with animals is also useful – although understandably difficult to ascertain.