Nicholas Stock

Doctoral Researcher

Nicolas Stock

Current Status

Fifth year, part-time.

Research Topic

An Ironist Ontotheology of Education 

Research Summary

This study is written from the perspective of Richard Rorty's 'ironist' as an approach for redescribing education.  This entails a deconstructive, ironic and occasionally fictive ontology, embodying a range of philosophical approaches.  Widely, my ironist perspective seeks to question assumptions about the language that exists around education, so to more accurately represent education as a being.  Further, literary influences and styles are often called upon to aid analysis and structure my writing. 

The thesis comprises of three major elements:

  1. The tracing of haunting and archetypal metaphors in education.  This is achieved through reading texts that exist ubiquitously in the educational realm, such as Plato's Republic or Rousseau's Emile.  In my reading of these texts, metaphors such as 'darkness and light' or the shepherd and the flock' are revealed as significant in terms of the ontology of education.
  2. The deconstruction of educational metaphors through a Heideggerean and Derridaen approach.  In such deconstruction, claims of truth and paradoxes are revealed within the metaphors, therefore allowing us to reconsider the ways in which we view education.  As such, this is an ironic reading of education as a text.
  3. The redescription of education through both fictive and non-fictive writing.  In light of the 'parts' left after the educational metaphors have been deconstructed, an image of education is drawn.  Partly this is in a Foucauldian manner, as an apparatus of control, and partly in a Heideggerean manner, as a being of God-like significance and metaphysical presence.  I further this with a fictional account of a beast, suggesting the dangerous and bestial qualities of education that exist in the metaphors that shape it.  

Research Interests

  • Postmodernist and poststructuralist approaches to education
  • Post-Nietzschean ontology such as Object Oriented Ontology
  • Significance of Marxist, anarchist and radical thought
  • The aims, purpose and forms of education
  • Literature and media as (and in) research
  • Consciousness raising and critical pedagogy

Research Supervisors

Dr Ben Kotzee and Dr Laura D’Olimpio


Previously taught First year module for BA Education – Contemporary Issues


School of Education

Conference Papers

  • Stock, N. (2020). ‘The future is cancelled’. Can education reactivate it? University of Winchester PESGB Education Conference, 2nd September
  • Stock, N. (2020).  Paradise Shall Remain Lost.  A Miltonian Vision of Contemporary Education. PESGB Annual Conference, 27th March, Oxford [cancelled due to COVID 19]
  • Stock, N. (2019).  Darkness and Light.  The Archetypal Metaphor for Education. PESGB Annual Conference, 30th March, Oxford
  • Stock, N.  (2018). And what rough beast? University of Birmingham PGR Education Conference, 24th November, Birmingham
  • Stock, N.  (2016).  2013-2015 Reforms in GCSE English Language and Literature.  University of Birmingham PGR Education Conference, 26th November, Birmingham
  • Stock, N.  (2016). Ironism in Education.  University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference.  June 14th, Birmingham [Winner of Best in Social Sciences Prize]


  • Stock, N.  (2021).  ‘Cloud Strife’s Ghost: Hauntology, Curriculum and Final Fantasy VII’ in Pop Culture and Curriculum. D. Friedrich (Ed.). DOI Press [forthcoming]
  • Stock, N.  (2020).  ‘Paradise Shall Remain Lost.  Readdressing Deschooling through a Miltonian Lens’ in Other Education.  [forthcoming December]
  • Stock, N.  (2020). ‘The Postmodern Condition: A report on knowledge’ in Educational Review, 72:3, p.404. DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2020.1746562
  • Stock, N.  (2020).  ‘Darkness and Light.  The Archetypal Metaphor for Education’ in Educational Philosophy and Theory. DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2020.1750363
  • Stock, N. (2019).  ‘And what rough beast? An ontotheological exploration of education as a being’ in Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51:4, pp.404-412. DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2018.1472573
  • Stock, N.  (2017).  ‘Deconstructing the Divergence: Unravelling the 2013‐2015 reforms in GCSE English Language and Literature’ in English in Education, 51:2, pp.143-156. DOI: 10.1111/eie.12140


Having spent the last decade teaching English to inner-city students at schools and colleges, Nicholas has accrued a wealth of experience on the ground in education.  However, after starting his PhD, it became clear that not only was schooling fraught with problems, but so too was the broader structure of education.  It is thus through poststructural critique that Nicholas has sought to unpick these broader structures.  Now as his thesis draws to a close, he is researching ideas that exist outside of the educational paradigm to contest the dominant structures we find ourselves beholden to.  


MEd, University of Birmingham (Higher Distinction)

PGDipEd English, University of Birmingham (QTS)

BA English Literature and Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University (2:1)

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