Dr Derek Sankey

CertEd(Lond), BD(Hon)(Lond), MA(Kent), PhD(Lond)

Honorary Associate


Phone: +61 2 9518  7386

Fax: +61 2 9351 5027

Building.Room: A35.537

Research interests

Learning sciences; psychology of education

  • Developmental psychology

Research on teaching and learning

  • Teacher education and professional learning


Dynamic Systems Theory, philosophy of science, human development, mind and brain, learning and teaching, school-based teacher education

Professional biography

Over the past 10 years, Derek Sankey's research and teaching has progressively focused on the application of Dynamic Systems (complexity) Theory to the notion of the human self and its education. He combines a career-long commitment to improving teacher education with a lifelong interest in the interface between the natural sciences and the humanities. In the UK he was a pioneer of school-based teacher education. His academic background is in philosophy of science, with a particular focus on cosmology and the science of mind and brain. He gained his PhD at London University, Institute of Education, where he was employed from 1986-1995. Previously he had directed a project for the Farmington Institute, Oxford on the teaching of science and the humanities. He worked at the Hong Kong Institute of Education from 1995-2006, establishing a centre for learning studies, and then at Seoul National University, before moving to Australia in 2010. He is an active contributer to the Centre for the Study of Human and Moral Development in Education

Professional and community roles

Selected publications


Book chapters

  • Sankey, D. & Kim, M. (2016). Cultivating moral values in an age of neuroscience. In C. W. Joldersma (Ed.), Neuroscience and education: A philosophical appraisal (pp. 111–127), Oxon: Routledge.
  • Sankey, D. (2014). Being and belonging: Feeling at home on planet Earth. In Xiao-lei Wang & Ronan Bernas (Ed.), People without borders: Becoming members of global communities (pp. 59–76), Niagara Falls: Untested Ideas Research Centre.
  • Sankey, D. & Kim, M. (2013). A Dynamic Systems Approach to Moral and Spiritual Development. In Lovat, T. & Arthur, J. (Ed.), Routledge International Handbook of Education, Religion and Values .
  • Sankey, D. (2008). Education and the Philosophy of Mind and Brain. In Tan, C. (Ed.), Philosophical Reflections for Educators (1st ed., pp. 133–142), Singapore: Cengage Learning.

Journal articles

  • Sankey, D. (in press). The neurobiology of trust and schooling. Educational Philosophy and Theory. DOI:10.1080/00131857.2016.1185687
  • Sankey, D. (2011). Future horizons: moral learning and the socially embedded synaptic self. Journal of Moral Education, 40(3), 417–425. DOI:10.1080/03057240.2011.596346
  • Townsend, G., Kim, M., Sankey, D. (2011). Dynamic Systems (Complexity) theory as a new conceptual model for researching PBL in dental education. European Journal of Dental Education, 15, 1–9. DOI:10.1111/j.1600-0579.2011.00718.x
  • Sankey, D. (2010). The Ethic of Forgetfulness. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 42(2), 149–151. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00649.x
  • Kim, M., & Sankey, D. (2010). The Dynamics of Emergent Self-Organisation: Reconceptualising Child Development in Teacher Education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35(4), 79–98.
  • Kim, M., & Sankey, D. (2009). Towards a Dynamic Systems Approach to moral development and moral education: a response to the JME Special Issue, September 2008. Journal of Moral Education, 38(3), 283–298. DOI:10.1080/03057240903101499
  • Sankey, D. (2008). Education Policy, Research and Neuroscience: The final solution?. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 33(3), 31–43.
  • Sankey, D. (2007). Minds, Brains and Difference in Personal Understanding. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 39(5), 543–558. DOI:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2007.00248.x
  • Sankey, D. (2006). The Neuronal, Synaptic Self: Having Values and Making Choices. Journal of Moral Education, 35(2), 27–42. DOI:10.1080/03057240600681702
  • Sankey, D. (2004). The hermeneutics of teaching and lesson conferencing. Journal of Basic Education, 13(2), 62–78.
  • Sankey, D. (1996). Beyond the ideology of school-based teacher training. Journal of Primary Education, 6(1), 67–77.
  • Sankey, D. (1988). CRITICAL REALISM IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION. Journal of Beliefs & Values, 9(1), 19–21.

Conference papers

  • Sankey, D. (2011). It's Not Me, It's My Brain: Cultivating Moral Learning in an Age of Neuroscience (Invited plenary speech). In International Conference on Moral Education: Cultivating Morality. Nanjing, China, 24-28 October 2011.
  • Sankey, D. (2010). The emergent neurobiological self: Avoiding the pitfalls of dualism and materialism in philosophy for children classes in primary school. In Philosophy and Schools . Perth, WA, 2-5 December 2010 .
  • Sankey, D. (1999). Classrooms as Safe Places To Be Wrong. In The 5th UNESCO-ACEID International Conference. Bangkok, Thailand, 13-16 December 1999 .