Improvisation-based Pedagogies: Changing Thoughts on Learning

David Scott Ross


The adoption of pre-determined standards and objectives in curricular design has important implications for how classroom knowledge is framed and subsequently dictates possible forms of interaction amongst students. This paper, in contrast to prevailing efforts to standardize learning outcomes, uses improvisation as a concept-metaphor to argue that curricula must be partially indeterminate if they are to take into account learners' subjectivities and interpretations. I problematize the value of abstract knowledge by drawing upon Isocrates' notion of kairos and Aristotle's notion of phronesis, which imply that any holistic understanding of knowledge must account for the interdependency between the knower and the unfolding context. Integrating transactional and dynamic educational theories of Dewey and Whitehead, I present jazz as a model for classroom interaction and articulate social and cognitive benefits of process drama as an improvisation-based approach to argue that a generative approach to indeterminacy is vital to a reconceptualization of praxes.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

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