Jim Walker

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With no real career plans after NSBHS I did a BA at Sydney University, where I discovered philosophy, which has been the main interest in my life ever since, and developed a fascination for educational issues – nothing to do with my high school career, so far as I can tell. Since then, philosophy and education have been at the centre of my professional life.

I did a DipEd and was a junior lecturer at Sydney Teachers College for a year, then a high school teacher at Sydney Technical High School for two years. During this time I commenced an MA in philosophy and an MEd in educational theory.

I moved to Adelaide for a year (1971), where I was on the staff of the then Bedford Park Teachers College. My first son, David, was born there. From there to Newcastle University where I worked in the Education School and completed the Sydney MEd, stunning myself by winning the University Medal. My second son, Martin, was born in Newcastle in 1973.

Then back to Sydney University to work in Education Research, and converting the MA in philosophy to a PhD, applying logic and philosophy of science to educational research and policy. I spent a year at London University as part of the research program.

On the strength of the PhD I won a postdoctoral research fellowship at Boston University’s Center for History and Philosophy of Science, and developed a love for Boston, now a home away from home. I have had the good fortune of several visiting appointments at Harvard and the Center for Executive Education at Babson College in Wellesley Massachusetts.

While at Sydney University I became interested in youth unemployment (enlisting the services of Richard Sweet in some of my seminars). I was intrigued by the cultural influences on young people’s fortunes after school. After investigating research projects in Birmingham UK and the German Youth Institute in Munich, I did a five year study of young men in Sydney, published in a book, Louts and Legends: Male Youth Culture in an Inner City School.

In all, I spent 15 years on the staff at Sydney University. In 1990 I moved to Canberra University as Dean of Education and Director of the Centre for Research in Professional Education. My five years in Canberra involved me in a plethora of government committees on educational policy, and consultations in the USA, UK, OECD Paris. It was all part of the whirlwind of the Hawke/Keating/Dawkins years of reform of education and the labour market.

From Canberra I went to UWS as Dean of Education, and spent some time developing overseas student recruitment programs in Thailand, Malaysia and Canada. I retired from UWS in 1998, taking up an adjunct professorship at UTS.

Until recently I have been doing consultancy work on workplace learning and organisational development with Executive Leadership Australia.

I am currently running training courses and coaching in planning and decision making and trading the foreign exchange market.

And back to my first love, philosophy, where I am writing a book on metaphysics.