chapter  4
Teaching as Improvisational Jazz
“To Go Somewhere to Answer a BIG Question”
WithKatherine H. Greenberg, Brian K. Sohn, Neil B. Greenberg, Howard R. Pollio, Sandra P. Thomas, John T. Smith
Pages 29

This chapter presents a first-person description of the experience of the professor while teaching and offers how the professor displayed a phenomenological attitude that was informed by existential phenomenological concepts. It focuses on sharing examples of the classroom interactions of the professor and his students, his experience of teaching, and his reflections after each class session. The chapter provides a clear illustration of focus on the lifeworld of the classroom—the dynamic process that takes place in the present moment. The improvisational jazz metaphor highlights the idea of focusing on how teacher and/or students can co-create an experience of teaching and learning intertwined with course content—how personal experience relates to abstract knowledge. The professor’s improvisational jazz approach to teaching provides a comfortable means for weaving personal experience with course content. In order to understand the professor’s specific actions during classroom conversations, researcher members of the Transdisciplinary Phenomenology Research Group analyzed transcripts of numerous recorded classroom interaction episodes.