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Home arrow Geography arrow Global Perspectives on Human Capital in Early Childhood Education: Reconceptualizing Theory, Policy, and Practice



In summary, in this chapter I laid out the shifting logics according to which expert knowledges and human capital theory have worked in tandem to tie together particular behaviors acquired through education and the market. This pushes individuals to become “useful” members of their society and to facilitate the nation’s economic goals. I examined how these discourses utilize particular constructions of the “human,” the person to be educated and governed through policies, to prepare the analysis in the second part of this chapter in which I argued that neurosciences not only provide new expert knowledges to reconceptualize the person in terms of human capital theory but also effect a shift in the government of the individual where the biological processes become the target of regulation instead of human capacities described in aptitudes.

Based on neuroscientific expert knowledges, in new narratives of human capital, parents (predominantly mothers) and children (persons and biological raw materials) themselves are the protagonists (with some help from educators) to have or build solid genetic or neural foundations and to make choices in the hope of effecting the probable, possible, or the unexpected in their lives. Foundations for mental capital are to be built through a neuro/somatic ethics by creating optimal environments that have the potential to affect subsequent generations as well as the current ones and by targeting molecular processes through mind training or drugs. Through a particular futurity and responsibility for the next generations to come, the goal of these self-governing techniques are to ensure a moral society for the future and the creation of mental capital to fund the very capacities required to act in an undescribable future to come. In an interactive manner between human capital theory and the neurosciences, human capital theory shifts from the acquisition of aptitudes to the acquisition of those behaviors that fund the genetics of current and future generations, safeguard against futures written in genetic susceptibility, and through regulation and self-government ensure the molecular and “mindful” access to the human mind. In return, neurosciences will be expected to provide more avenues and practical strategies by working together with applied sciences, such as health, education, and so on for the effective regulation of the population and individuals applied through policy.

To finish, I tie together all the threads developed in the chapter by restating them after each other to be able to draw a conclusion. There is a new focus on self-monitoring and the training of our brains/ minds where younger and younger children are required to develop self-awareness of brain functions—or the actual functioning of their mind. Parenting becomes crucial in children’s brain development due to the sensitive period tied to the period of intrauterine life and birth to three years of age. People who are socially or economically disadvantaged are rethought as individuals whose “condition” derived from “non-optimal” brain environments or their susceptibility that makes them “asymptomatically ill.” These reconfigurations taken together in narratives of human capital and the purpose of education might ultimately lead to the devaluation of and further disinvestment from institutional ECEC. This might be coupled with the overvaluation of maternal care, maternal education and self-government, and a radical change in pedagogy and curricula for a healthy and well- funded brain—our brain capital.

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