Constructions of Neuroscience in Early Childhood Education: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Constructions of Neuroscience in Early Childhood Education

1st Edition

By Michel Vandenbroeck, Jan De Vos, Wim Fias, Liselott Mariett Olsson, Helen Penn, Dave Wastell, Sue White


98 pages

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This book explores and critiques topical debates in educational sciences, philosophy, social work and cognitive neuroscience. It examines constructions of children, parents and the welfare state in relation to neurosciences and its vocabulary of brain architecture, critical periods and toxic stress.

The authors provide insight into the historical roots of the relationship between early childhood education policy and practice and sciences. The book argues that the neurophilia in the early childhood education field is not a coincidence, but relates to larger societal changes that value economic arguments over ethical, social and eminently pedagogical concerns. It affects the image of the child, the parent and the very meaning of education in general.

Constructions of Neuroscience in Early Childhood Education discusses what neuroscience has to offer, what its limitations are, and how to gain a more nuanced view on its benefits and challenges. The debates in this book will support early childhood researchers, students and practitioners in the field to make their own judgements about new evolutions in the scientific discourse.


‘This book provides a welcome addition to the critical literature on the uses and misuses of neuroscience in policy and practice, focused in particular on the current ‘neuroethusiasm’ that pervades much advocacy for early intervention and contributes to early childhood services increasingly becoming a technical practice for governing child and parent alike. In keeping with the aims of the series Contesting Early Childhood, the book will help readers question the claims of what has become a dominant discourse, and to gain a better understanding of what neuroscience can and can’t offer early childhood education.’ - Emeritus Professor Peter Moss, Institute of Education, University College London

'This book makes myth busting its business by seriously considering the common sense status of much knowledge about neuroscience and early childhood education. Practitioners, policy makers, and politicians should know about the ways in which facets of neuroscience have been misrepresented, reduced and simplified to produce simplistic conclusions that amount ultimately to deficit and blame, and technocratic arguments for alleged economic benefits. It provokes neuro-enthusiasts to interrogate neuroscience ‘truths’ and the evidence to support these by thinking beyond the economic bottom line and reflect about meanings of education, visions of society, social justice, and equity.' - Sue Grieshaber, Monash University, Australia

Table of Contents

Preface 1. Introduction: Constructions of Truth in Early Childhood Education: A History of the Present Abuse of Neurosciences 2. The Neuroturn in Education: Between the Scylla of Psychologisation and the Charybdisof Digitalization? 3. Using your Brain: Child Development, Parenting and Politics of Evidence 4. Anything to Divert Attention from Poverty 5. The Complexity of Translating Neuroscience to Education: The Case of Number Processing Discussion

About the Authors

Michel Vandenbroeck is head of the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy at Ghent University.

About the Series

Contesting Early Childhood

This groundbreaking new series questions the current dominant discourses surrounding early childhood, and offers instead alternative narratives of an area that is now made up of a multitude of perspectives and debates.

The series examines the possibilities and risks arising from the accelerated development of early childhood services and policies, and illustrates how it has become increasingly steeped in regulation and control. Insightfully, this collection of books shows how early childhood services can in fact contribute to ethical and democratic practices. The authors explore new ideas taken from alternative working practices in both the western and developing world, and from other academic disciplines such as developmental psychology. Current theories and best practice are placed in relation to the major processes of political, social, economic, cultural and technological change occurring in the world today.

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