The question was raised at a half-day conference this week, jointly organised by the Laboratory for Education & Society at KU Leuven, Ghent University, and Liverpool Hope’s Centre for Education & Policy Analysis. Over 150 attendees heard contributions from sociologist Jan Macvarish, neuroscientist Wim Fias, and educational philosopher Naomi Hodgson, from Hope’s Department for Education Studies, and engaged in a debate on issues raised throughout the day.
Should neuroscientists be responsible for the misrepresentation of their science by app developers and parenting entrepreneurs? In the face of instrumentalisation and technologisation, should educators start standing up for a particular idea of education? A common theme emerged among the different perpectives on these questions, that we – not just as researchers, or as parents, or as scientists, or as educators – as grown-ups, need to discuss these issues publically, to debate what is at stake.
In her presentation, Dr Naomi Hodgson discussed the moral agency of the data generated by parenting apps, and the positioning of parents as a bridge between neuroscience lab and baby: if that is all we are, then “who we are, what we stand for, is neither here nor there.”
For those with a subscription to Belgian newspaper De Standaard, and who read Dutch, a report on the issues raised by the event can be found here.
Thanks to doctoral researcher Joyce Leysen for her work in coordinating the event, to the Masters students who fielded the questions, and to all those who attended and contributed to the discussion.