Dec 3, 2021: Deborah Youdell

Friday, December 3, 2021 at 12:15-13:45 (UTC+2):
“The teacher and the brain: navigating the ascendance of ‘learning science’ in education”

Deborah Youdell is Head of the School of Education and Professor of Sociology of Education at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her work is at the forefront of the developing field of biosocial education, which brings emerging knowledge in the new biological sciences together with social science accounts of education to generate new insights into learning and the learner. This builds on her earlier work concerning the making of subjects and inequalities in education. Deborah is the author of four books: Biosocial Education: the social and biological entanglements of learning (with Martin R. Lindley); School Trouble: identity, power and politics in education; Impossible Bodies and Impossible Selves: exclusions and student subjectivities; and Rationing Education: inequality, policy and practice in education (with David Gillborn).

Governments and education policy makers internationally are turning increasingly to cognitive science and neuroscience to reframe learning, and school education. In this new framing, learning can be understood and optimised through the application of knowledge from the basic science to both teacher education and practices in the classroom. This turn to cognitive science re-orientates the teacher and teaching as concerned primarily with understanding the working of the brain. Yet in a recent systematic review of cognitive science interventions in education, undertaken by colleagues and I and commissioned by the UK’s Education Endowment Foundation, we find much material but relatively few intervention studies about which we can feel highly confident alongside the persistent challenge of translation from laboratory studies to classroom interventions (Perry et al 2021). In this paper I consider how educationists might respond to this terrain, and suggest transdisciplinary working as a productive response.


The Systematic Review:


Suggested reading before the lecture:

Youdell, D., Lindley, M., Shapiro, K., Sun, Y., & Leng, Y.. (2020). From science wars to transdisciplinarity: the inescapability of the neuroscience, biology and sociology of learning. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 41:6, 881-899. Youdell BJSE 2020