Saturday 19 October, 3.30pm until 5.30pm, Pit Theatre Battle for our minds
Influential politicians such as Iain Duncan Smith and Graham Allen have forcefully pushed for the reorganisation of UK family policy around an agenda of neuroscience-based early intervention. It is claimed that there now exists a scientific evidence-base telling us what parents and carers must do to maximise children’s cognitive and emotional development. Babies’ brains have held significant interest for policy-makers for some years. In the USA, the Clinton administration incorporated neuroscience into family and education policy back in the 1990s. But critics are extremely concerned about what the trend for looking at childrearing in narrowly scientific terms means for families, children and society.
Can neuroscience shed any light on childrearing and family life? Why does it seem to have such an appeal for politicians and policy makers? And does a neurological approach neglect the importance of cultural and environmental factors to intimate relationships such as those between parent and child?
Professor Val Gillies
director, Families & Social Capital Research Group, Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, London South Bank University; co-editor, Family Troubles? Exploring changes and challenges in the family lives of children and young people
writer; advisor to Park Slope Parents, NYC's most notorious parents' organization
Dr Sally Satel
resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute; psychiatrist; author, Brainwashed: the seductive appeal of mindless neuroscience
Dr Jan Macvarish
associate lecturer and researcher, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent; author, Neuroparenting: The Expert Invasion of Family Life
The increasingly popular idea that a person's fate is decided in the first five years of life is completely baseless.Stuart Derbyshire, spiked, 5 September 2013
Parenting is all the rage, with poor discipline blamed for last year's riots. But as the government rolls out free courses, is there any evidence to back up the idea you can teach people how to be parents?Amelia Gentleman, Guardian, 31 March 2012
A New Understanding of Early Brain Development and Lifelong LearningJohn T. Bruer, New York Times, 1999
The most important factor influencing a child’s development is the quality of parenting they receive and the quality of the Home Learning Environment this creates. The government has stated that 'what is needed is a much wider culture change towards recognising the importance of parenting' and has expressed the desire for 'parenting advice and support to be considered the norm'.Chris Paterson, Centre Forum,