There is a strain of curriculum theory especially since the reconceptionalist movement that applies existential philosophy to educational issues and questions. There is also a related branch of curriculum theory that looks especially at existentialist theology to cast light on curriculum issues from a more religious slant. Both of these strains of analysis are rooted in Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism and existential theology (Huebner, 1999; Tillich, 1948). The educational implications of the works of Kierkegaard are a subject that has been virtually unexamined in either educational or Kierkegaardian scholarship except by two scholars whose works are already 40 years old. A pedagogy of liminality aims at empowering the teacher and student to make what is being studied in the classroom something that each student will appropriate in her own way. The teacher facilitates this process by never letting the student rest for very long in any particular solution to a problem. Rather the teacher positions the student on a landscape which is filled with paradoxes. Each solution breeds a new set of questions and often equally viable though opposite solutions. The teacher thus constantly places herself and her student between dialectical poles, always reaching higher and higher syntheses in recursive process. The purpose of a pedagogy of liminality is twofold. First, it prevents the curriculum from becoming an inert object. It becomes a dynamic growing thing. Second, it requires the student to never rest in any so-called objective answer but to always be striving towards a higher answer and an even better set of questions. In this way the teacher and student in collective discourse are each appropriating the discourse uniquely in enriching their life narratives. This is consistent with Kierkegaard's primary emphasis on subjectivity and his view of objectivity as secondary and always ideally in the context and service of subjectivity. This dissertation is done in the hybrid style. The main part of the work is designed as a journal article.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


Document Type





Kierkegaard, Education, Pedagogy, Curriculum, Liminality