Lingering with the works of Ted Aoki

Since my doctoral studies, I’ve been taken by the writings of Ted T. Aoki. He was a Canadian curriculum scholar who dramatically impacted the field of curriculum studies. I’ve written several pieces engaging with his thinking. In 2017, I wrote an article in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, titled, Lingering on Aoki’s bridge: Reconceptualizing Ted Aoki as curricular techno-theologian. In 2020, I wrote a book chapter in Provoking curriculum encounters across educational experiences, where I discuss technotheological curricular spaces, and I specifically use Aoki’s conceptualization of the bridge as part of my own theorizing.

Most recently, I have joined several scholars in contributing to a 2022 book titled Lingering with the works of Ted T. Aoki. My chapter contribution discusses the Lingering notes: Sounds of learning in teacher education. The following is the introduction to my chapter:

In this chapter, I follow Ted Aoki by lingering in the space of curriculum and pedagogy, finding pause, and dwelling in the sounds of teaching and learning in teacher education. Aoki lingers in the space between curriculum-as-plan and curriculum-as-lived (Aoki, 1986/2004). Teacher education can offer a space for teacher candidates to linger as they mature, ready, and shape themselves for their vocation as teachers.

Teacher education remains a complicated conversation (Pinar, 2004) with varied programming issues, economic challenges, and socio-political concerns. Globally, teacher education has emphasized reform with policies that can be seen as excessively promoting professional practice while concomitantly de-intellectualizing teacher education (Clarke & Phelan, 2017). Barrow (1990) has evaluated teacher education programmes and found they favoured materialistic and technocratic values above all else. Pinar (1989) continues this criticism and states that a fitting response is “a curricular reconceptualization of teacher education” (p. 9). In Kincheloe’s (1993) reconceptualization project, he proposes a “postformal expansion of inquiry-oriented teacher education” (p. 197). This entails a kind of teacher education that serves the excluded and the oppressed, dedicated to an ethos of emancipatory change. Phelan (2015) reconceptualises the possibilities in this transformation and proposes that “teacher education must be primarily concerned with the teacher’s subjectivity” (p. 4), which is often impeded by bureaucratic practices and policies. Such subjectivity is necessary so that teacher candidates discern their own agency and responsibility in pedagogy. In the Canadian context, Phelan et al. (2020) propose cultivating responsiveness as a Canadian reframing of teacher education. They suggest that such responsiveness entails themes of academic erudition, civic particularity, and ethical engagement. Within this context, we encounter Ted Aoki.

Much like Aoki, I am hoping to share the sounds of learning from my own educational journey as a Chinese-Canadian, a former doctoral student, and now an assistant professor in education. My personal voice, is joined by the chorus of my students, these teacher candidates who I am privileged to journey alongside. As Aoki has drawn from Kierkegaard about the auditory sense as being the most spiritual (cf. Aoki, 1991/2005a, p. 372), he is decentering our visual sense as the primary means of establishing educational identities. Following Aoki’s move to the sonare, I draw on Aoki’s call for us to be “more fully sonorous beings” (Aoki, 1991/2005a, p. 373). This call requires that we linger on the stories and complexities of teachers, students, and their pedagogical beingness.


Aoki, T. T. (1986/1991/2005). Teaching as in-dwelling between two curriculum worlds. In W. F. Pinar & R. L. Irwin (Eds.), Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki (pp. 159–165). Lawrence Erlbaum.

Aoki, T. T. (1991/2005a). Sonare and videre: A story, three echoes, and a lingering note. In W. F. Pinar & R. L. Irwin (Eds.), Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki (pp. 367–376). Lawrence Erlbaum.

Barrow, R. (1990). Understanding skills: Thinking, feeling, and caring. The Althouse Press.

Clarke, M., & Phelan, A. (2017). Teacher education and the political: The power of negative thinking. Routledge.

Kincheloe, J. (1993). Toward a critical politics of teacher thinking: Mapping the postmodern. Bergin & Garvey.

Phelan, A. (2015). Curriculum theorizing and teacher education: Complicating conjunctions. Routledge.

Phelan, A. M., Pinar, W. F., Ng-A-Fook, N., & Kane, R. (2020). Reconceptualizing teacher education: A Canadian contribution to a global challenge. University of Ottawa Press.

Pinar, W. F. (1989). A reconceptualization of teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(1), 9–12.

Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Lawrence Erlbaum.

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