Phenomenology and Curriculum Implementation: Discerning a Living Curriculum Through the Analysis of Ted Aoki’s Situational Praxis

James Magrini, College of DuPage


The argumentation in this paper is grounded in a critical and conceptual analysis of Ted Aoki’s phenomenology, wherein curriculum is read as phenomenological text. The problem explored emerges from Aoki’s critique of the Tyler rationale for curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation as it is conceived and practiced in contemporary standardized education, which is driven by the ideology of social efficiency. Aoki focuses on the way in which the scientific and technical modes of curriculum implementation preclude ontological modes of Being-in-the-world because curriculum implementation, as a technical and instrumental process, reduces both educators and students to epistemological subjects, and beyond, objects of knowledge. Through an analysis of Aoki’s writings the main conclusion of the paper is that by focusing on curriculum implementation as a form of “Situational-Praxis” as opposed to “Instrumental-Action,” it is possible to put educators and students in touch with the ontological aspects of their Being-in-the-world. Aoki’s practice of phenomenology reveals an understanding of an attuned mode of human transcendence in learning, which opens the possibility for an authentic educational experience where educators and students dwell in the midst of the curriculum’s unfolding as an ontological phenomenon.