Sydney School of Education and Social Work events - 2013 Archive

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Theory and metatheory in developmental science

12 June 2013

Join us on June 12 for a CoCo Seminar by Minkang Kim and Derek Sankey titled “Theory and metatheory in developmental science”.

Human development has a long pedigree in teacher education, much of it influenced by cognitive development theory (Piaget) and social cultural theory (Vygotsky). Both have provided theoretical perspectives on the nature of learning.

Recently, however, mainstream human-development studies have been undergoing considerable change, partly as a result of challenges from neuroscience, but much more fundamentally in regard to the prospect of establishing an overarching metatheory for human development, prompted by dynamic systems theory. Yet this shaking of the theoretical foundations has hardly begun to permeate education.

In this seminar we will start to explore the issue of theory and metatheory in developmental science, combining insights from philosophy of science and psychology. We will suggest that dynamic systems theory provides an overarching metatheory for development, which transcends the many disparate theories that have held sway. Moreover, in association with connectionism, it may point the way towards a fully unified metatheory of development and learning, opening up interesting collaborative research implications.

This seminar will be available live online at

Event details

  • When: 11am–12.30pm
  • Where:

    Education Building (A35) 

    Room 230

  • Cost: Free
  • Contact:

    Sadhbh Warren

    T: 935 12612


  • More info: Arrive at 10.45am for refreshments
  • Speaker/ Performer:

    Minkang Kim and Derek Sankey are a wife and husband team whose research interests are strongly informed by dynamic systems theory.

    They came to Sydney in March 2010, when Minkang was appointed lecturer in human development in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. Jointly, they maintain a lively webpage, which acts as a Cyber Centre for the Study of ‘Human and Moral Development in Education’(HAMDIE).

    Before coming to Sydney, Minkang held the post of Assistant Professor at the School of Dentistry, Seoul National University, where she played a significant role in developing approaches to professional-ethics education and, more broadly within Korea, in helping to establish agreed accreditation procedures for dental education.

    Her academic background is developmental psychology. She views human development as an interdisciplinary life science, integrating psychology and neurobiology.

    Her main teaching and research focus is the application of dynamic systems theory to the study of human development and learning, which she sees as having particular relevance to teachers and especially beginning teachers entering the profession.

    She has a special interest in social, emotional and moral development, and how these occur as a result of processes of non-linear emergence and self-organisation.

    Derek’s academic background is philosophy and history of science. Educated in the research tradition of Karl Popper, he was also strongly influenced by the work of Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn. His primary research and teaching focus is philosophy of mind and brain, with a particular interest in the interface between neuroscience and notions of the human self.

    He has combined these interests with a career-long commitment to improving teacher education. In the UK, while lecturing at The University of London, Institute of Education, from 1986-1995, he was a leading pioneer of school-based teacher education.

    He moved to the Hong Kong Institute of Education 1995 to 2006, where he established a Centre for Learning Studies and School Partnership that conducted school-based action research learning projects in many Hong Kong schools.

Theory and metatheory in developmental science


Education Building (A35) 

Room 230


12 June 2013

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