From Squeezing to Scanning

A Historico-philosophical Analysis of the Braining of Mind and the Rewriting of the Child in Western Discourses of Being and Education

Thursday 4th of June, 12pm - 1.30pm
C1-60, Magill Campus

Bernadette BakerBernadette Baker is professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Within educational research cross Europe and the United States and now beyond, one of the most rapidly traveling discourses and highly funded pursuits of the moment is brain-based learning (BBL). This presentation analyzes the “messy and numberless beginnings” of the hope placed upon neurological foundationalism to provide a solution to the ”problem” of differences between students and to the achievement of educational goals.

Rather than arguing for or against educational neuroscience this presentation examines the conditions of possibility for subscribing to the brain as a causal organlogical locus of learning. After examining some key patterns and absent presences in the BBL literature, the presentation will map some of those conditions, including the relationship between technologies of self, histories and cultures of dissection, and arcs of discourse from soul-body to mind-body relations. Three historic and pivotal examples of the movement from squeezing to scanning in modern mind-brain relation debates that have redefined “the child” are surveyed. The presentation also raises a range of contemporary fantasies, projections and contestations of some of the central assumptions within “western” conceptions of Being that sustain the conditions of possibility for BBL research. This includes the thorny problem of human-centrism even in those accounts that claim to question scientific materialist approaches to the nature of reality.


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