jagodzinski wins national award

Kateryna Barnes - 31 July 2020

The Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies honoured respected Secondary Education professor jan jagodzinski with this year’s Ted T. Aoki Award for Distinguished Service. The award recognizes education scholars who have a distinguished teaching, research, publishing and service record in the field of curriculum studies. Colleagues Elaine Simmt and Jason Wallin nominated jagodzinski, acknowledging his impressive contributions to the field.

“jan has an understated intensity and passion that sets him apart from many of us,” says Simmt, who was jagodzinski’s department chair for six years.

“In the course of a year jan curates a lecture series, writes a book, does a dozen invited lectures, teaches both undergraduate and graduate students, and trains for and completes a couple of triathlons. Further, he uses his influence and relationships to routinely bring international scholars to the department. Our faculty and graduate students benefited greatly from those visitors being able to not only read and listen to their ideas but interact with them in seminars and informal events. These activities create an environment from which inspired scholarship emerges.”

The award is named for former Secondary Education department chair Ted Aoki. Aoki is known as an eminent curriculum scholar who led the shift from quantitative to qualitative research methods. Simmt notes that while Aoki might have been one of the original leaders of the “curriculum reconceptualist movement,” jagodzinski led the Faculty of Education’s creative thinking on curriculum as he was the first in the Faculty to offer courses in feminist studies, post-modern studies and popular culture. More poignantly, Aoki was the person who hired jagodzinski to the University of Alberta. Wallin says the comparisons between the two do not end there.

“I’m grateful that jan’s contribution to the field of curriculum study and arts education has been recognized by CACS, and in league with the kind of legacy forged by Ted Aoki,” says Wallin, a former doctoral student of jagodzinski’s.

“I believe that jan exemplifies the kind of thinker we so desperately need today. Like Ted Aoki, jan has spent his career forging new experiments and preparing new ground for thinking. I don’t think its hyperbole to say that jan is something of a singularity in the field of curriculum studies, to which he was always something of an outsider. He deflected such ‘career sandbagging’ by ‘taking off’ in new directions, even when they were unpopular or impossible (as anyone who has seen jan’s diagrams can attest!). If the aim of scholarship is to produce new conditions for thinking, jan is a scholar par excellence.”

While jagodzinski was not able to accept the award in person as COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of this year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, he can’t help but reflect positively on some of the people who mentored him, which includes Aoki.

“I was hired by Ted in 1983, at a time when qualitative research was just beginning and rather suspiciously received throughout various Canadian universities,” recalls jagodzinski.

“Continental philosophy was not any better as the divide opened up in positivist camps. What the hell was ‘phenomenology’ in the 1980s? Ted had a feel for where the edge of things were. He and Harry Garfinkle were friends. Harry, who was in the Department of Educational Foundations at the time was (and is) a true genius. Both of them got along, both of them were passionate scholars and teachers, and both of them believed in the power of generating ideas that carry into the future. It was a pleasure having experienced both as people worthy to emulate. Seldom is one lucky enough to have had such extraordinary teachers with values worthy of living and teaching by.