IAIN DAVIDSON’S OBITUARY

 

From his friend and co-founder of SWIG, Charles Calder, with some additional information from Chris Murray:

Iain Davidson, died on on Monday 2nd September 2013. He was born in 1933 and, following graduation in History (Aberdeen, 1954), Iain trained to be a teacher at the College of Education in Aberdeen, later taking the degree of Ed.B. This was the “old” Scottish Ed.B., which required the submission of a research thesis. This course of study embraced both education and psychology; and the degree was recognised at that time by the British Psychological Society as the only qualification for educational psychologists.

Iain was first and foremost a psychologist.

Iain’s PhD thesis, undertaken in Toronto, developed the interests which he had acquired during his Ed.B studies.

A continuing concern was the teaching of children suffering from sensory impairment. He published in this area, including a collaborative paper which he published in 1999 on the use of ethical reasoning in the teaching of children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities.

After his 23 years in Canada, Iain returned to Scotland, taking up a post as Senior Fellow in the Department of Education at Aberdeen University (1990). This was an Honorary post; but there was nothing “honorary” about his involvement with the Department. He threw himself into its work with characteristic vigour. He was much in demand as a thesis supervisor.

Iain’s expertise as a psychologist was also much in demand in court cases, and he spent the last several years immersed in the evaluation of troubled youths for Aberdeen courts. In this, as in all his other activities, he was driven by a powerful desire to help people.

Charles Calder recalls meeting Iain in the summer of 1993:

It was (in Thackeray’s words) “one sunshiny morning in June”. We were “processing” towards Greyfriars Church and found ourselves in easy conversation. It turned out that he was on the organising committee for the IAWIS/AIERTI Conference due to be held later that year at Carleton and had noticed that I would be giving a paper on Shakespeare’s use of “dumb significants”. Following the Carleton meeting, he suggested we should start our own local version”—that became SWIG.

Chris Murray met Iain in spring 1998 as a final year undergraduate:

I was giving a paper on comics as part of a SWIG symposium in Dundee. I was thinking about pursuing comics for my PhD and met with great encouragement from Iain. That summer I attended my first SWIG conference in Aberdeen, and before long he asked me to join the committee. I regularly attended meetings in Aberdeen and we would often spend time afterwards talking. I benefited greatly from his advice and enjoyed his company (even if he continually had me asking the proprietors of restaurants to turn down the music, or in his words “can you ask them to switch of that racket?”). When the Aberdeen group contracted due to retirements and ill-health, Keith Williams and I brought the management of the group to Dundee, but Iain was always a central force in the planning and organisation of conferences and was excited to see renewed collaboration with IAWIS. The 2014 conference, held in conjunction with IAWIS, was dedicated to Iain’s memory.