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Tuesday, July 2 • 3:30pm - 4:10pm
Cultivated knowing, constrained knowledge: Jazz educators’ espoused and enacted curricula

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This paper about teaching and learning in creative fields focuses on jazz education as an illustrative example of ways in which knowledge-building might be constrained and knower-cultivation facilitated in knower-code pedagogies. It explores the questions of what it means to be ‘good at playing jazz’ and how that is taught and learnt and uses the Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) dimensions of Specialization and Semantics. Specialization is used to show the basis of achievement in the espoused and enacted curricula of three case-study jazz educators, contrasting rhetoric and practice. The concepts epistemic and axiological semantic gravity and semantic density are used heuristically to show what kinds of knowledge-building and knower-cultivation occurred in a series of group lessons given by each teacher and potential implications for knowledge and knower-building.

Jazz education is an example of a field dominated by a knower code that presents a public face in which rhetoric downplays the importance of specialist knowledge or technical aspects of performance but places strong emphasis on personal attributes such as talent and innate predisposition as the basis of achievement. Publicly, the ruler of the field is not techniques but the personalities who create the music. This paper delves into the private reality of jazz lessons to give insight into how jazz educators go about teaching that which they themselves may argue is unteachable.

The qualitative research from which data are drawn, part of an ongoing PhD study into jazz education, used case studies of three jazz educators to investigate the reality of pedagogy in lessons and contrast enacted curricula with the teachers’ espoused rhetoric about learning, playing, and teaching jazz. Sources of data included semi-structured teacher interviews and classroom video of each educator giving a series of four 90-minute group lessons at a jazz camp for teenaged students. The research also used documentary analysis of a corpus of writing about jazz education to establish the field as dominated by a knower code.

The first teacher espoused and enacted a knower code, downplaying techniques or specialist musical knowledge – weaker epistemic relations (ER–), and emphasizing personal attributes and dispositions as contributing to student success in learning jazz – stronger social relations (SR+). The second teacher espoused a knower code but enacted variously a knowledge code (ER+, SR–) and a knower code. In contrast, the third teacher espoused an élite code (ER+, SR+) and enacted a knowledge code.

Analysis of the lessons in terms of Semantics revealed that the enacted curricula of the knower-code teachers were characterized by knowledge that was relatively contextual and simple, but ways of knowing that were generalizable with richer axiological meanings. In contrast, the knowledge-code teacher taught generalizable principles and more complex specialist knowledge, but context-dependent and simpler ways of knowing. The knower-code teachers also tended towards more tacit teaching, even of knowing, and viewed direct instruction negatively. This paper concludes that neglection of either the knowledge or the knowing side of jazz in teaching may problematize the potential of students to take away from lessons more sophisticated knowledge or knowing that might help them transcend context and better learn how to play jazz or be jazz musicians. It is possible that such constraints on learning might be an implication of a teacher’s Specialization orientation if allegiance to rhetorical stances overshadows the reality of what students really need to know in order to succeed. This paper will point to ways of teaching in creative fields like jazz that make explicit the basis of achievement to offer more equitable outcomes for all students as an alternative to implicit instruction that favours those who already know.

It is suggested that two of the teachers in this study are potentially illustrative of the field in that they shared its knower code. The knowledge code of the third teacher’s enacted curriculum located him as in accord with and thus potentially representative of an approach widely criticized in the field as overlooking the knowing aspects of jazz (Galper, 1993, N.D; Nisenson, 1997; Watson, 2012). While this paper focuses on jazz education, it provides an example of how teachers in creative fields more generally might build knowledge and cultivate knowers, and potential educational implications for students arising.


Tuesday July 2, 2019 3:30pm - 4:10pm SAST
Room B47

Attendees (6)