“Now’s The Time”: Improvisation-based Pedagogies and the Creation of Coevalness
The term “performance” used to describe learning outcomes in educational settings has little of the richness ascribed by anthropologists. This paper adopts a dynamic sense of performance as shared time, theorized by Johannes Fabian as coevalness and Victor Turner as communitas, to problematize student engagement with pre-structured curricular materials. It contrasts it with alternative participatory frameworks utilizing improvisation. I describe core features of jazz interaction to illustrate how collaborative, context-dependent processes that constitute improvisation may be synthesized into a pedagogical approach; one that enhances student communicative abilities, fosters critical thinking and negotiation skills, and promotes engagement by cultivating temporal awareness. I present Dorothy Heathcote’s “Mantle of the Expert” and “Process Drama” as curricular approaches that employ improvisation and I reflect on how the pedagogical ends they achieve are consonant with the aims of critical pedagogy.
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