Simon Kidd

Simon Kidd

Mr, Doctor of Philosophy Student

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Personal profile

Biography

I was born and raised in Dublin and began my philosophy education at University College Dublin (UCD), where I completed my BA in 1988. The degree combined historical and thematic approaches to the Western tradition, from the pre-Socratics to twentieth-century analytic and continental philosophers. Apart from metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, I took courses in logic, aesthetics, philosophical psychology, and political philosophy. I undertook postgraduate research into the relevance of the philosophy of language to the development of the concept of ideology, completing my dissertation ('Language and Ideology: The Significance of Hermeneutics and Semiotics for the Theory of Ideology') in 1993 and graduating with my MA in 1994.

In 1995 I moved to Cambridge to look into pursuing doctoral research. I had developed an interest in comparative philosophy and religion and contacted John Cooper, a Persianist at the University’s Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. At his suggestion, I used the excellent facilities of Cambridge University Library to produce a survey of the secondary literature on a mid-17th-century Persian text called the Dabestan. I was provisionally accepted as a postgraduate by King’s College, subject to funding from the British Council, but my application was unsuccessful and I was forced to postpone my research plans.

From 1995 to 1999, I worked in the 'Oriental, African, and Latin American' department of Heffers, Cambridge's premier academic bookstore, then still owned by the Heffer family but subsequently taken over by their Oxford rival, Blackwells. This was followed by experience in two small publishing-services companies, first as an editor and project manager at The Running Head, and later as a digital publishing analyst at Griffin Brown. Between 1996 and 1999 I also assisted writer John Cornwell in his role as Director of the Science and Human Dimension Project, a public-understanding-of-science program based at Jesus College.

I moved to Perth, Western Australia, in 2003 and became an Australian citizen in 2005. Between 2003 and 2008 I was primarily responsible for my two young children, although I also worked part-time as circumstances permitted, first as a sessional tutor in the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), and later in Extension, the community-education program at the University of Western Australia. In 2008 I was appointed a full-time senior research officer at UWA, reporting to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Education. In this role I was the executive officer for several committees and working parties, and was closely involved in the University’s major Review of Course Structures, culminating in the 2009 Future Framework.

Also in 2009 I began my involvement with the WA Association for Philosophy in Schools (APIS), which introduced me to philosophy-for-children (P4C) pedagogy, as well as providing some insight into the implementation of the 'Philosophy and Ethics' ATAR course in the WA curriculum. I completed APIS Level-1 training in 2009, was Secretary of APIS from 2010 to 2014, and Treasurer in 2018. I was also Secretary of the national body, the Federation of Asia-Pacific Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA), from 2018 to 2019. Through APIS I learnt of the Philosothon, an inter-school annual philosophy competition started by Matthew Wills and Leanne Rucks at Hale in 2007. I was a regular facilitator at this event, and Chief Facilitator in 2010. In 2013 I acted as moderator at a trial of the Ethics Olympiad, in which Hale students competed with two US schools via video conference.

From 2009 to 2011 I completed a Master of Teaching (Primary) at UWA. This was followed by teaching positions at Hale (2011), Perth Montessori School (2012-15), and Hale again (2017). The latter included teaching the 'Philosophy and Ethics' ATAR course to Year-11 students. From 2018 to 2020 I held sessional-tutor positions in philosophy and ethics at UNDA and Curtin University. In 2021 I enrolled as a PhD candidate at UWA.

Research

My PhD research project is titled 'The design and implementation of the Western Australian "Philosophy and Ethics" ATAR course: Influences, implications, and alternatives'.

The project will investigate the influences on – and implications of – the design and implementation of the Western Australian ‘Philosophy and Ethics’ ATAR course and consider alternatives to the existing course. Three direct ‘theoretical’ influences have provisionally been identified: the Philosophy for Children (P4C) movement that spread from America to Australia in the 1980s; an outcomes-based-education (OBE) model that was being trialled in WA at the time the ATAR course was being developed; and the dominant ‘analytic’ culture of academic philosophy in Australia. The development of the course between 2004 and 2008 must also be seen in the context of indirect ‘practical’ influences, such as internationalisation and standardisation of education, and prevailing neoliberal market forces. How did this combination of influences play out in the design and implementation of the 'Philosophy and Ethics' course? Does the course live up to the ideals expressed in its Rationale? Are certain aspects of philosophy promoted at the expense of others? What are the implications of the answers to these questions? If there are undesirable implications, how could these be avoided in alternative forms the course might take?

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