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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Generative tensionality : intellectual works of Ted Tetsuo Aoki Liu Baergen, Patricia Fu-Hui


The intellectual odyssey of a scholar can be complex and dynamic, especially when such an odyssey was lived within the juxtapositions of linguistics, cultural dynamics and intellectual traditions. Ted Tetsuo Aoki was a cadet in the Canadian Officer Training Corps, but was forced into exile in his Canadian homeland during the Second World War. He was an important Canadian curriculum theorist and a dear, lifelong, mentor to many students. He was a strong critic of the division between theory and practice, and of the binary between East and West. Who was this man who lived and provoked these contrasting dynamics? What were the main concepts explored in his works? In what ways were these concepts significant in the field of education and curriculum studies? What was the uniqueness that surged from and through his thinking and writings over time? While keeping these questions in the periphery of this Aoki focused study, I first attend to the question of the historical present that juxtaposes history, society and subjectivity, specifically within contemporary Canadian curriculum studies, to situate Aoki’s intellectual life. Further in responding to the specificity of Aoki’s scholarship, I attend to the interwoven, dynamic and poetic essence of Aoki’s intellectual formation and life history and especially the prominent influence of phenomenology and Martin Heidegger’s writings. By contextualizing Aoki’s narrations on his momentous life events, I engage with Aoki’s critical reflective and unique style of theorizing, and I suggest that understanding, for Aoki, is a mode of being-in-the-world, which reveals pedagogical significance. By delving into Aoki’s main concepts and selected writings from Heidegger, I find, Aoki, in his writings, reflects Heidegger’s critical position of constantly pointing out the conceptual assumptions and philosophical blind spots in the wor(l)d of instrumentalism. By returning to the ontological ground of humanness, articulating the particularity in phenomenon and dwelling poetically in the hermeneutic imagination that calls for the self-identified subjectivity, theorizing for Aoki, I suggest, is poetic dwelling as human being-in-the-world.

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