Ted T. Aoki

A Curriculum Scholar

All educators who live in the question of teaching are living the Aokian experience. Known as “the most prominent curriculum scholar of his generation in Canada”, for over 30 years Ted Aoki (re)conceptualized curriculum internationally. Interweaving phenomenology, post-structuralism, and multiculturalism into his work, Aoki has been influencing teachers, practitioners and academics through broadening the notion of curriculum to encompass cultures, languages and lived experiences.

Ted Tetsuo Aoki is a Japanese-Canadian, born in Cumberland on Vancouver Island on October 17th, 1919. His family was evacuated from British Columbia to Alberta after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942. Aoki started his academic career at the University of British Columbia completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1941, then completing his Bachelor of Education in 1949 and Master of Education in 1963 from the University of Alberta.  Aoki began inspiriting curriculum in 1945, starting his career in education in Alberta. Teaching in elementary, junior and senior grades, Aoki carried out his time in the public school system in 1964 as an Assistant Principal in Lethbridge, Alberta. It was at this time when he began his tenor at the University of Alberta, starting as an Assistant Professor until 1967, then an Associate Professor until 1972, and then became a full professor in the Department of Secondary Education until 1975. During his time at the University of Alberta, he also completed his Doctorate at the University of Oregon in Curriculum and Instruction in 1969. In 1975, Aoki moved to become a Professor and Coordinator at the Center for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction at the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. Aoki went back to the University of Alberta as a Professor and Chairman in the Department of Secondary Education in 1978 and maintained that position until 1985. During his time at the University of Alberta, Aoki drew in many international graduate students, as he offered a fresh way of understanding curriculum. Aoki then made his way back to British Columbia as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria where he finished his teaching in 1996. Aoki remains an Honorary Professor of the University of British Columbia (1994- ) and a Professor Emeritus of the University of Alberta (1985- ). Aoki has received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Lethbridge, 1988, the University of British Columbia, 1991, the University of Alberta, 1992, and the University of Western Ontario, 1999. 

Even though he “retired” in 1996, most of his publications have come since his retirement from the university circuit. A collection of Aoki’s work was gathered together by fellow Professors William Pinar and Rita Irwin which is entitled Curriculum in a New Key: The Collected Works of Ted T. Aoki (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, 2005). It is this collection of scholarship which we have chosen to focus on while reviewing this honorary scholars’ work. 

1 All information regarding Aoki’s biography retrieved from Carson, T. (2011). Dr. Ted. T. Aoki. University of Alberta, Faculty of Education: Highlights of our History Website. Retrieved on May 9, 2011 from: