Finding the Blue Note: A Metaphor for the Practice of Teaching


  • Rick A. Breault



Teaching and the process of developing curriculum, have been compared to the art of jazz improvisation. While similarities between the two exist, there are important differences that make the metaphor inaccurate. It is suggested here that because of the outward simplicity of teaching, the characteristics of teacher thinking and of those who become teachers, and the nature of the relationship of the teacher and audience, a more appropriate comparison might be to blues music and musicians. The article also suggests a distinction between the source and usefulness of what is called here emergent metaphors (those that grow out of or emerge from a teacher's language and experience) and ascribed metaphors (those that are constructed by the researcher describe an idea or behavior). Finally, implications of the metaphor for professional development, the preparation of teachers, and the success of school reform are offered.