Dr Ian Normile

Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School of Education
Areas of Expertise:
Education and teaching
Research Supervision:
Courses taught:

Ian has extensive experience as a teacher and school leader in international schools. His research interests are in the philosophy of education, cross-cultural education, the internationalisation of higher education, critical thinking, and critical being.

[email protected]


Ian has taken a circuitous route into higher education, which has involved living and working in the US, Vietnam, China, and Scotland. He has taught at all levels of education, from kindergarten to university. He was the Director of Studies for one of the largest TESOL schools in Hanoi, Vietnam and the Deputy Head of an international School in Xiamen China. He completed his master's and a fully funded PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where he also taught on multiple master’s level courses.

Ian has a wide range of teaching and research interests but is particularly fascinated by the philosophy of education and questions about the purposes (actual and ideal) of education. He draws on a range of ideas to explore and understand educational possibilities. He finds great value in learning how to be wrong – contending there are few experiences more educative than realising something always known to be true simply is not the case. He is also interested in how different kinds of experiences, like play, wonder, and skilled practices can contribute toward education.

Research interests
  • Philosophy of education
  • Critical thinking and being
  • The aims of higher education
  • Philosophical foundations of education research
  • Academic freedom
  • Critical dialogue as a conduit for social justice
  • Mystical experiences
  • Teacher education
  • Democratic education & education for democracy
  • Cross-cultural learning
  • Aligning education theory, policy, and practice
  • Educational leadership
Areas of research supervision
  • Philosophy of education
  • Literature review
  • Discourse analysis
  • Various forms of qualitative research

Ian currently teaches on the following modules:

  • Developing Educational Research
  • PhD, University of Edinburgh
  • MSc Education, University of Edinburgh
  • CELTA, University of Cambridge
  • BA Humanities and Social Sciences, Western Washington University
Recent presentations and conferences

Normile, I.H. (2024) Expanding Critical Thinking into Critical Being through Wonder and Wu-wei, Educational Theory.

Normile, I.H. (2022) Exploring Criticality in Chinese Philosophy: Refuting Generalisations and Supporting Critical Thinking. Studies in Philosophy and Education.