Ad-liberal Education: Improvisation and Open Curricula

Prof. Denise Egéa-Kuehne,
Mr. David Ross
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As educators, we might ask how improvisation as a frame could benefit us in the classroom. After all, it is, for the most part, a transient and irreproducible activity. These are characteristics which run counter to common visions of school curricula as the passing on of reliable forms of cumulative knowledge. What improvisational approaches might we be willing to adopt? How could they be integrated with the other activities of the class? Where would one start? In this paper we shall review the ways in which improvisation and creativity have been framed, and explore some of the implications which knowledge-construction-as-improvisation can have in an educational context. To elucidate these points, we use improvisation structures in jazz as our model. It is the form of improvisation about which we are most knowledgeable and we find the scholarly work done on jazz to offer some clear possibilities for relevance and transferability to other educational settings. First we look at improvisation and its connections with creativity, discussing several conceptions of where our creative abilities originate. We then move onto theories of play and cognitive frames for understanding our ability to use open structures. This is followed by a view of degrees of freedom in improvisation, a view which problematizes interpretation, building upon the work of organization scientist and former jazz pianist Michael H. Zack. We conclude with possible alternatives we see in the application of these principles to curricular study and the lived experiences of the classroom.

Keywords: Education, Learning, Improvisation, Knowledge, Creativity, Open Curriculum, Music
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Ad-liberal Education

Prof. Denise Egéa-Kuehne

Professor, College of Education Department of Curriculum and Instruction , Louisiana State University

Denise Egéa-Kuehne is Associate Professor in the College of Education and Director of the French Education Project for Research and Teacher Education at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Her major areas of research include curriculum theory, philosophy of education, critical theory and cultural studies. She lectures and publishes in North America and Europe on issues of diversity, languages, human rights and related ethico-political issues, especially where education, knowledge, and educational institutions are concerned. Her scholarship draws on both European and American educational experiences and scholarship. Her work has appeared in Educational Theory, Philosophy of Education, La Revue Française de Pédagogie, Le Français dans le Monde, The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, and includes several chapters in edited books. She published "Derrida and Education" (Biesta co-editor). She has edited a collection on Levinas titled Levinas and Education: At the intersection of Faith and Reason (forthcoming).

Mr. David Ross

Louisiana State University

Ref: L05P0777