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'From 'baby brain' to conduct disorder: the new determinism in the classroom

Date: 4 February 2014 Time: 16.30-18:00 pm

Venue: Lancaster University

Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education, Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University.

The Centre will be hosting a talk by Professor Val Gillies on 4th February 2014 entitled 'From 'baby brain' to conduct disorder: the new determinism in the classroom'. This will take place at Lancaster University from 4.30 to 5.30 and will be followed by a wine reception (further details will be given once you have registered). The talk will be of particular interest to teachers in secondary, primary and early years' settings and others associated with the professional care of children and young people. We hope for this to be a get-together of researchers and practitioners in the NW area.


'From 'baby brain' to conduct disorder: the new determinism in the classroom'

The last 30 years or so have seen dramatic shifts in way children and their development are conceptualised. Reflecting an advancing neoliberal ethic children have come to assume a much greater significance as human capital requiring extensive investment to secure their futures as productive citizens. This paper explores the consequences of these changes for parents, teachers and children focusing in particular on the rise and increasing influence of new biologised explanations of inequality. Two empirical research projects will be drawn on to inform this analysis. Findings from an ongoing study of the use of brain science in shaping early years policy and practice will explored alongside an ethnography of pupils at risk of school exclusion to show how heavily biologised discourses of damage and deficit have come to re-infuse public, political and professional understandings of learning in the classroom. Policy initiatives currently marketed as progressive (early intervention, improving school readiness, SEAL) will be examined in this context to highlight the deeply gendered and racialised dynamics underpinning them, and to demonstrate how biologised notions of risk and prevention are justifying and compounding exclusionary practices.


Please note: spaces are limited for this event.

To reserve your seat: RSVP by email to Joanne Dickinson at

If you wish to attend from a distance via videoconference, please email your name, email address, and Cisco Jabber Username to Joanne Dickinson at

You can sign up for a free Cisco Jabber account and find instructions at Cisco Jabber video.

Booking deadline is Friday 31st January 2014. Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Social Justice and Wellbeing in Education, Educational Research


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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