Authors: Kathy Hall, Alicia Curtin and Vanessa Rutherford (click on author names to go to their research profiles)


Our purpose with this book is to critically explore the ways in which the discourses of neuroscience and sociocultural theory are transforming our understanding of concepts such as learning, self, identity, success, failure, talent and language. Based on interviews with neuroscientists, participation in neuroscience events, and critical analyses of sociocultural and neuroscientific literature relevant to education, the book seeks to understand and explain how perspectives from neuroscience and sociocultural science align, collide and contradict each other.  It examines, in particular, the growing allure of neuro approaches in the life and social sciences, and in educational and popular discourse, and evaluates their implications for education against more holistic, sociocultural perspectives.

Keywords related to the book include learning, culture, neuroscience, sociocultural theory, language and experience. It is relevant to teachers, parents, researchers interested in socio-cultural theory and theories of learning

The book is available to purchase, or to order an inspection copy here

The book elaborates on how education has appropriated neuro discourses and how neuroscientists have appropriated educational and even sociocultural discourses.  It shows how neuroscientists and sociocultural theorists position learning, the learner, knowledge, the teacher and learning contexts. The following questions are addressed: how are the messages and concepts from neuroscience and sociocultural theory shaping teacher and learner identities and potential identities? Analysis of written and oral texts, performances and events of and for neuroscientists are included in the evidential and analytic basis for this work.  The book argues that sociocultural theory is pedagogically compelling and has considerable explanatory power for understanding and supporting the learning process. It also argues that sociocultural theory is also a science and justifies this claim with reference to it being a science of practice as opposed to science as only representation. The book shows that both sciences offer a perspective on learning, a way of seeing and a way of analysing but shows how neither is ‘true’ in any absolute sense.  It concludes that the metaphors, vocabularies and systems of interpretation in both cases are likely to lead society and education in different directions and to produce different effects.  The book attempts to raise awareness and debate of these directions and effects.

Related publications (see also links to authors' research profiles at the top of the page)

Curtin, A., Hall, K. (2012) Literacy as Shared Consciousness: a neurocultural analysis In International Handbook of Research in Children's Literacy, Learning and Culture Eds Kathy Hall, Teresa Cremin, Barbara Comber and Luis Moll  Blackwells: Oxford. 

Hall, K. and Curtin, A. (in press/2015)  The interface between educational theories and neuroscience in the early years In Routledge Handbook of Philosophies and Theories of Early Childhood Education and Care  Eds Tricia David, Kathy Goouch and Sacha Powel  Routledge: London.

Related conference presentations

Hall, K., Curtin, A. Rutherford, V. (2011) Networks of the mind: a neurocultural perspective on learning. Poster presented at international neuroscience conference, Wiring the Brain: Making Connections, Enniskerry, Wicklow, Ireland. April. 

Curtin, A. and Hall, K. (2013) Plastic Identities - a critical, neurocultural perspective.  Paper presented at the International Annual Conference of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) Liverpool, July.

Curtin, A. Hall, K (2013) Plastic Identities – Culture, Discourse, Learning. EERA European Educational Research Association ECER European Conference on Educational Research, Bahçeşehir University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Hall, K. (2014) Looking inward and outward: what can we learn from neuroscience and sociocultural science about learning in the early years? Keynote presentation at the TACTYC Conference, Successful Pedagogy: Advocating for strong evidence to support early learning.  Birmingham, November.

Hall, K. (2014) ‘Cultural neuroscience’: contributions to learning? Invited Seminar, UCC’s School of Applied Psychology.  January.

Hall, K. Curtin, A. (2014) Networks of Mind - Learning, Culture, Neuroscience, International Conference on Interdisciplinary Research in Education, Milan .

Hall, K. (2015)  Brain and Relational Approaches to Re-Assessing Literacy Keynote presentation at International Annual Conference of the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA)Nottingham, July. 

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