‘If someone discovers these gentle pot-stirrings…’: An interview with Nesta Devine

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Nesta Devine is Professor at the Auckland University of Technology and served as the third woman President of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia from 2009–2011. She completed her bachelor’s degree from the University of Otago and received her PhD, on the topic of public choice theory and education, from the University of Auckland. She taught in schools in New Zealand for 25 years and at the University of Waikato before joining the Auckland University of Technology. A leading figure in philosophy of education, Nesta has published in a broad range of areas with notable work in the areas of neoliberalism and education policy, the aims of education, and education for equality and equity. She has been an important contributor to the Editor’s Collective based in the journal of Educational Philosophy and Theory and has also recently taken on the mantle of Editor-in-Chief of the journal ACCESS: Contemporary Issues in Education. Nesta is known for her criticality as a scholar, which is coupled with her genuineness and warmth toward colleagues, whether junior or senior, and other academic initiates. Liz remembers fondly first meeting Nesta at the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Annual Conferences, when Liz was a new member and Nesta was the President. In contrast to the crisp, official academic demeanour sometimes seen at conferences and in higher education, Nesta is a gracious host at academic events, particularly adept in balancing the dual needs for levity and lightness in intellectual spaces, modelling critical engagement with interpersonal generosity. In this interview as well, one can see the thoughtfulness and care behind Nesta’s words, which make her an exemplar for new scholars who might struggle to be so genuine, authentic, and grounded, while also clearly possessing expertise and intellectual and cultural authority. The interview also helps us better understand the important influence of different events on her life, and how they made her the scholar that she is today. We thank Nesta for her words, time, and participation in this project, the second in a series of interviews with women leaders in philosophy of education. The following interview has been lightly edited and reorganised after two rounds of back-and-forth questioning between Liz and Amy and Nesta.

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