Ian Normile

Teaching Fellow


I grew up on a small farm in the U.S. state of Montana. My first teaching experience came as a Judo and Jujitsu instructor for at-risk teens. This sparked an interest in education, which led me to study social sciences and humanities with a focus on history at Western Washington University. My intention was to become a secondary school history teacher. However, my passion for travel took me in a different direction - or, really, many different directions. From hitchhiking in Australia to trekking in the Andes, I found exploring the world as educational as anything I'd experienced in the classroom. Similarly, I found varied work experiences, including time as a ranch-hand, political fundraising, working as a night-shift janitor at an oil refinery, and various stints in landscaping and construction provided invaluable opportunities for learning and growth. Eventually, I found a way to combine my interests in education and travel by teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam. I spent five years in Vietnam, mostly in academic management, including time as the Director of Studies for one of the city's largest TESOL schools. In 2017 I completed the MSc Education programme at the University of Edinburgh. After my Master's I moved to Xiamen, China where I briefly worked as a kindergarten teacher, then spent two years as the Deputy Head of an international primary school. I returned to Edinburgh in 2020 to undertake a fully-funded PhD research project focusing on critical thinking in cross-cultural education contexts. I started teaching at Moray House in 2021 and love being back in the classroom. As a researcher, I have a wide range of interests, but I'm particularly fascinated by the philosophy of education. 


PhD Education (University of Edinburgh, thesis under review)

MSc Education with distinction (University of Edinburgh, 2017)

CELTA: Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Cambridge University, 2010)

BA Humanities and Social Sciences (Western Washington University, 2008)

Postgraduate teaching

I teach (or have taught) on the following courses of the MSc Education programme:

  • Philosophy of Education (Course Organiser)
  • Education Policy and the Politics of Education
  • Research Methods: Sources of Knowledge
  • Research Methods: Conceptualising Research
  • Dissertation supervisor for MSc Education students.

Research summary

My research interests include:

  • Philosophy of education
  • Critical thinking
  • The aims of universities amidst increasing internationalisation 
  • Philosophical foundations of education research
  • Academic freedom
  • Critical dialogue as a conduit for social justice
  • Connecting the mystical and critical
  • Critical thinking in initial and ongoing teacher education 
  • Democratic education & education for democracy
  • Cross-cultural learning
  • Aligning education theory, policy, and practice
  • Education leadership

Current research interests

I am currently working to articulate a philosophically informed understanding of critical thinking applicable at an expansive scope in cross-culturally diverse higher education contexts. Put more simply, I want to help universities provide a space where people with diverse perspectives speak with, instead of past, each other in critical dialogue.

Past research interests

Patriotism and citizenship education (MSc Education dissertation)
  • Normile, I.H. (2022) "Exploring Criticality in Chinese Philosophy: Refuting Generalisations and Supporting Critical Thinking". Studies in Philosophy and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-022-09855-3.


  • Normile, I.H. (forthcoming) "Expanding Critical Thinking into ‘Critical Being’ through Wonder and Wu-wei." Educational Theory.