Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki

Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki

Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki

Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki


Ted T. Aoki, the most prominent curriculum scholar of his generation in Canada, has influenced numerous scholars around the world. Curriculum in a New Key brings together his work, over a 30-year span, gathered here under the themes of reconceptualizing curriculum; language, culture, and curriculum; and narrative. Aoki's oeuvre is utterly unique--a complex interdisciplinary configuration of phenomenology, post-structuralism, and multiculturalism that is both theoretically and pedagogically sophisticated and speaks directly to teachers, practicing and prospective. Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki is an invaluable resource for graduate students, professors, and researchers in curriculum studies, and for students, faculty, and scholars of education generally.


There is a problem with an American doing this work. Ted Aoki is a Canadian scholar, uniquely so. To be grasped in terms of Canadian intellectual life, his work must be situated within Canadian history and culture, specifically, within Canadian curriculum studies. I lack the expertise for such a project, and nor am I appropriately situated to undertake it. (I am not reiterating the view, held by some in cultural studies, that subject position is a prerequisite for expertise. But, of course, it matters.) I think Aoki's work is extraordinarily important for American as well as Canadian curriculum studies, as I trust the attention I gave to it in Understanding Curriculum testifies. In that textbook, I focused on Aoki's intellectual leadership in the effort to understand curriculum phenomenologically. Although acknowledging there the movement in his work from phenomenology toward poststructuralism, I confess I did not grasp the full extent of it.

Why? I attribute this lapse in judgment to the fact that, although I had access to a number of Ted's essays, I did not have access to them all. A number were in fact unpublished; and many were published in journals not readily accessible in the United States. Several of the most brilliant, in fact, I had not yet read when I composed the passages on Aoki's work for Understanding Curriculum. Now, thanks to Ted and to Rita L. Irwin, we have access to the entire body of work, entitled Curriculum in a New Key.

Aoki's leadership in the effort to understand curriculum phenomenologically is legendary. After having read everything now, I conclude that it is only part of the story. Aoki's scholarly work cannot adequately be described as “phenomenological, ” despite the strong and enduring influence that philosophical tradition exhibits in these collected essays. Aoki is enormously erudite; he is well read not only in phenomenology, but in poststructuralism, critical theory, and cultural criticism as well. Even these four complex intellectual traditions fail to depict the range and depth of his study and his intellectual achievement.

In my introduction to the collected essays of the man who taught us to “ldquo;ear” curriculum in a “new key, ” I emphasize the range and depth of the work. I focus too on the deft pedagogical moves Aoki makes in these essays, most of which were speeches. I know of no other scholar who took as seriously as Aoki did the scholarly conference as an educational event. Often working from conference themes, Aoki takes these opportunities to teach, and with great savvy and subtlety. Of someone we might say that he or she is a fine scholar and a superb teacher. Of Aoki we must say that his brilliance as a pedagogue is inextricably interwoven with his brilliance as scholar and theoretician. It is the unique and powerful combination of the three that makes Aoki's work absolutely distinctive.

In taking seriously the scholarly conference and thereby construing our coming together as an educational event, Aoki acknowledges the centrality of the social in intellectual—and academic—life. In a time in which careerist self-

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