Jazz, Democracy, & Education: Dr. Wesley Watkins and the Jazz and Democracy Project

Contemporary Issues, curriculum, improvisation, music education, socio-cultural Issues1 Comment

You Are Here:, curriculum, improvisation, music education, socio-cultural IssuesJazz, Democracy, & Education: Dr. Wesley Watkins and the Jazz and Democracy Project

Thanks to NPR’s The New & The Next I recently found out about Dr. Wesley Watkins’s work on the Jazz and Democracy project.  According to the project’s website:

The Jazz & Democracy Project® (J&D) uses jazz as a metaphor to bring American democracy to life, enrich the study of U.S. History in elementary, middle, and high school, and inspire youth to become active, positive contributors to their community.  Students explore the importance of Listening, Critical Thinking, Voice, Choice, Preparation, Participation, Cooperation, Peaceful Negotiation, and America’s Classical Music . . . Jazz!
In the OZY interview Dr. Watkins provides an interesting perspective on the potential for jazz in education and is particularly nuanced in his answer to the interviewer’s question regarding whether the program should be “presecriptive” for schools. Watkins avoids claiming that a single program ought to be applied in all educational contexts, focusing instead on the importance of acknowledging students’ individuality and highlighting the connections between jazz and democracy. His descriptions of jazz as a metaphor for democracy are fantastic. The project and the themes that Watkins discusses seem like they have tremendous potential as interdisciplinary education and arts integration in its truest sense.
Listen to Dr. Watkins speak at a TedX talk:

Interested in another perspective on jazz and democracy? Listen to Dr. Cornel West riffing on Jazz in the Key of Democracy on the Paula Gordon show.

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