Friday, September 19, 2008
Schools should be prepared to ensure all pupils have access to brain-enhancing ‘smart drugs’, according to forecasts by Government-funded researchers.
Teachers may risk discriminating against poorer pupils if they fail to give all children the same chances to take a new generation of pills that boost attention, concentration and memory.
Research led by Bristol University predicts that within a generation, cognition-enhancing drugs – or ‘cogs’ – will be so advanced that teachers and parents will be able to ‘manipulate biology’ to enhance children’s brainpower.
But schools will be forced to address ‘ethical issues about haves and have-nots’, the researchers envisage.
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‘If ‘cogs’ are only available to those who can afford to pay for them, what does this mean for equality in education?’ the report said.
‘In the future it may be unethical to deny the chance for pupils to take advantage of such enhancements.
‘What might this mean for education in the future?
‘Educators will at least need to know about what smart drugs are being taken by their pupils.
‘They may need to have a hand in deciding whether some pupils need to take such drugs.’
Schools may also need to introduce drug-testing to monitor and regulate the use of performance enhancers, according to the researchers, who were commissioned by Futurelab, a think-tank and charity funded by the Government to help shape the future of education.
The study paints a picture of a brave new world of education, where pupils’ DNA profiles would be stored on memory sticks to allow teachers to tailor lessons more effectively.
Brain scanners would give staff real-time read-outs of children’s pupils’ thinking, allowing for a more personalised approach.