Jazz Aesthetics and the Democratic Imperative in Education: A dialogue

Luis Mirón*, Victor Goines, Joseph L. Boselovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What appeared decades ago as solely a European model—Thatcherism—is now a global trend with no apparent end in sight. Neoliberalism in the public sector, and within the educational sphere particularly, pervades within a larger pattern of hegemonic ideologies. In sum, market forces and global capitalism make it quite difficult for public education, both nationally and internationally, to retain its democratic ethos, the historical aim of common schools. Is there an antidote to corporate, global capitalism ideologies undermining the democratic aims and the common good in public education? In this article the authors assert that, indeed, there are discursive spaces where scholars and citizens can turn. One space is the arts, especially jazz. In jazz the discursive, social practices of improvisation, call and response and the tradition of ‘standing on the shoulders of those who came before you' (honoring elders) facilitate deep democracy. This article borrows both from the metaphors and discursive practices of jazz, including improvisation and the habits of mind fostering deep listening and hearing one's fellow combo members. The authors argue that as in jazz, education can embrace and return to its democratic impulses. In so doing the consumers of public education—students, families, and local communities, can systematically resist the destructive consequences of neoliberalism. Moreover by embracing the aesthetic of jazz in public education, consumers can exploit the concomitant the more constructive opportunities of the ideologies of neoliberalism, namely innovation, creative autonomy, and individual liberty. In the end civility in public discourse is rendered possible by such an aesthetic move. The authors welcome dialogue and debate on their arguments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-193
Number of pages12
JournalOpen Review of Educational Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • common good
  • democratic education
  • discursive practices
  • jazz
  • neoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History
  • Philosophy


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