The current Japanese system for teaching certification has three principles: licensureism, university-based teacher preparation, and open system. Since the end of the last world war, the normal school based teacher preparation (Shihan-Gakkou) has undergone reforms with three principles. The university-based preparation was the earliest proposal of the three with an aim to widen scholarly learning through liberal arts education.
The “open system” is another significant reform that has “opened” the door for general universities outside of those universities specialized in teacher preparation to be a providers of the initial teacher preparation. It is significant that the “open system” allows the preparation of teachers with a background not only in the area of education but also in disciplinary areas such as science, literature and so on. This type of teacher preparation programmes prepares teachers teaching in middle and high schools.
The Central Education Council has confirmed the post-war principles on teacher preparation system to be continuously held as the fundamentals of Japan’s teacher preparation and licensure systems. However, recent major reforms undermined the principles by pushing teacher preparation providers to align their curriculum to the core curriculum and to put greater emphasis on practicums. In so doing, the reforms have weaken the autonomy of universities on curriculum control and the basic principle of teacher preparation through liberal arts education. Those reforms are also endangering the principle of “open system”, and reforms are expected for both the teacher preparation system and the open system.
This paper aims to raise an alarm on the current trend of reform on teacher preparation systems. This paper then proposes an alternative by drawing an example from the development of teacher preparation curriculum at the ICU for over 20 years. The main argument highlights the importance of teacher preparation through liberal arts education with a curriculum that provides academic learning of subject matter of teaching.
This paper aims to trace the changes and development of teacher preparation systems in Japan from the civil service perspective inside the (then) Ministry of Education, as well as in the (presently) Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
There are perspectives of academics (intellectuals) and of educators to consider when discussing about teacher preparation and its systems. The author takes a position that teachers need to be intellectuals themselves in order to adequately and effectively guide their students to pursue their intellectual curiosities. Ensuring intellectual freedom of universities where Japan sets its teacher preparation is, therefore, critical to allow space for future teachers to mature their intellectual caliber.
Taking on above mentioned perspective, previous and still ongoing reforms on teacher preparation policy have carried the following issues :
1)In Japan, school-teacher is an inclusive term referring to those carrying the occupation of teaching from preschool to high school in national, municipal and private schools. However, it is often assumed within MEXT, as well as the Central Education Council, that the term refers, primarily, to those teaching in publicly operated primary schools. Furthermore, whilest preparing primary school teachers in university with open system curriculum has been the fundamental principle, nonetheless, the pre-war tradition of normal school preparation strongly persists still today.
2)Under the open system, the providers of teacher preparation were not held responsible to bridge between preparation and hiring / placement of teachers. Hence, teacher preparation curriculum and contents have been largely disconnected to what is needed in the practice. Today, however, there is a growing pressure for longer preparation process and tougher certification requirements. The introduction of “teaching practice exercises” was a response to such pressure, but university providers failed to implement it as a gatekeeper. The introduction of the professional graduate school of teacher education in 2008 was to bridge between the preparation and the practice, but it is still in developmental stage today.
3)In the 2015 reform, university’s autonomy over teacher preparation curriculum was weakened despite the rhetoric of encouraging universities for innovative practice. The introduction of “core curriculum” was another blow to university’s curricular autonomy, and much of teacher preparation curriculum was put under the state control.
These issues noted here are the evidence that the fundamental principle of Japan’s postwar teacher preparation—university-based and open system preparation—is at risk today.
This paper elaborates how the initial teacher education in Japan has structurally changed due to the rise of the Neo-Liberal policies in Japan at the beginning of the 21st century. Policies deregulating the providers of the initial teacher education for primary school teachers in particular exhibits some typical issues brought by the neo-liberal policies.
Japan’s initial teacher education is known as the ‘Open System’. However, preservice training for primary school teachers has been one of five areas of preservice trainings that are exclusively restricted in order to keep a balance between demand and supplies. Therefore, it had been prohibited to launch a new provider or to increase the training capacity of existing providers since 1980s.
The Cabinet organized by Prime Minister KOIZUMI Junichiro (2001-06) has lifted the state regulation of the initial teacher education programme for primary school teacher as a part of the ‘Deregulation’ scheme. Since 2005, hundreds of new providers of programme for primary school teachers have been launched. Most of those new providers were private universities with relatively low prestige in urban areas. These universities launched the initial teacher education programme as a means to improve their financial conditions.
In conjunction with the deregulation, a governmental control of ‘course approval system’ by ministry against initial teacher education providers became stricter than before. However, the stricter control of ‘course approval system’ has not been an effective means for quality assurance of prospective teachers until now. Local education administration in urban areas has experienced difficulties in handling an increasing number of prospective primary school teachers. Some of hastily launched providers are insufficient in preparing competency of teacher candidates, local boards of education are forced to put tougher requirements on the initial teacher education providers.
It is ironic that the ‘Deregulation’ policy on the initial teacher education has failed to strengthen teacher competency of new graduates. Instead, the ‘Deregulation’ has ended up introducing much stricter regulations on the courses provided under the initial teacher education to ensure the competency of teachers prepared by rapidly launched providers of the initial teacher education. This study identified that such irony has turned into a crisis by weakening the autonomy of universities providing teacher education programme.
In Japan, the administrative system used for initial teacher education courses’ approval was introduced in 1953. The related laws and regulations were revised recently and state that all courses should be reapproved by the Minister of Education before the beginning of the academic year of 2019. The author investigates the issues that surfaced during the reapproval process and criticises the lack of fairness and transparency in the approval system. Among the problems, the author examines the use of the core curriculum of initial teacher training, set as a legal requirement in order to obtain approval from the Minister of Education. The author argues that this can lead to legal problems, and that the curriculum should be regarded as a non-binding instrument instead of a criterion for approval, an instrument universities can draw upon to improve their initial teacher education. The author concludes with suggestions for reforms in the approval system.
This article focuses on the challenges faced by private universities in response to teacher education reforms in Japan. By reviewing three research reports by the National Association of Teacher Education in Private University, this study highlights three thematic challenges: the accreditation of teacher education and the private university, the committee for the teacher education by the board of education and the private university, the core curriculum for the teacher education and the private university.
This paper inquires into scholarly collaboration of faculty members responsible for teacher preparation courses offered under the open system teacher preparation programmes.
1 Theory is often the product of induction generated from investigations, experiments or experiences. In the process of induction, details are overlooked in preference to draw a generalizable concept. However, most problems are complex and details often matter when understanding the complexity of realities. Therefore, attention to the details is critical when applying a theory. This is also true in teacher preparation programmes when preparing teacher candidates with theories to understand the challenges and issues they may face in real classrooms.
2 This paper argues that the collaboration of faculties responsible for teaching methods and for teaching contents is critical when providing an instructional support for teacher candidates in their process of preparing a lesson plan. Such collaboration would offer teacher candidates ability and experience to adequately apply theories in practice.
3 Faculties aiming to reform and improve teacher preparation curriculum and courses should actively involve in the nation-wide communities of teacher preparation and teacher education. Those communities are, for example, Japan Association of Universities of Education, Japan Association of Professional Schools for Teachers Education, and the Institute for the Evaluation of Teacher Education. It is also important for those communities to invite natural scientists, historians, literary scholars and other scholars to get involved. Empowering such communities is critical to ensure that all participants should share their practices and all providers to actively exchange the view on the ways in which teacher preparation should be.
In the jurisprudential understanding concerning the laws of education, the prevailing view on teachers’ continuing learning was dialogically shaped between the late 1960s and mid 1970s by two contrasting philosophical positions: One position emphasizes the people’s right to education, and the other stresses the State’s rights to educate its people.
These conflictive philosophical positions underlie the different legal interpretations given to Article 22, Paragraph 2 of the Law for Special Regulations Concerning Educational Public Service Personnel (Special Regulations).
In respect to the prevailing jurisprudential understanding on teachers’ continuing learning, it is important to make a critical inquiry on legislative interpretations that limit the autonomy of individual schools over their administrative authority, such as the board of education. Furthermore, it is much needed to reevaluate the prevailing understanding that may be outdated to reflect the current conditions and realities in the field.
This paper identifies the dilemmas surrounding the legislative interpretation that excludes teachers' self-initiated continuing learning from teachers’ occupational responsibility. This paper also considers the ways to alleviate school principals’ from using their administrative authority to exclude teachers' self-initiated continuing learning from teachers' occupational responsibilities. In so doing, this paper aims to bring a paradigm shift to the prevailing jurisprudential understanding concerning the laws of education to revitalize the core principle of the Article 2 of Paragraph 22 of the Special Regulations.
In 2015, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) issued a notification to all schools to address the challenges experienced by the students with gender dysphoria. This notification was far from satisfactory however as it was merely requesting schools to be lenient of imposing gender specific regulations for school uniforms and/or hairstyles. No specific indication was made on pedagogic and educational approaches to address the needs or challenges of students across gender and/or sexuality.
Existing research focuses on curriculum development addressing the issues of sexual minorities, and on providing support for sexual minority students experiencing difficulties in schools. This study aims to identify factors to be addressed in educational practice, with respect to the diversity of gender and sexuality.
This study did semi-structured interviews with four teachers who are sexual minorities. Thematic narrative analysis was used to identify “coming out” as the key guiding principle constituting of their teaching practice.
Teachers from sexual minorities exhibited two particularities in their teaching practices: First, their practice targeted not the specific sexual minority students inside schools, but all the students including majority students, inside and outside of schools. Second, they positions the issues of sexual minority within a larger framework of diversity by critically approaching the mainstream values, such as heterosexism and gender binarism.
This study identifies three areas of limitations and challenges when addressing gender and sexuality in teaching practices. First, teachers from sexual minorities have difficulties to bring forward the issues of sexuality because those issues are very much personal to them. Second, while it is much needed to provide adequate support or accommodation for sexual minority students, such approach offers an escape from critical examination of binarism and keeps mainstream biases against LGBTQ unchallenged. Lastly, it is critical to understand that there are options other than “coming out” or “being in a closet”. Two teachers interviewed suggested “performativity” as a possible option for individuals of sexual minority to identify their sexuality outside of existing LGBTQ categories.
This paper investigates the ways in which students’ discussion developed through review sessions of mock-lessons, and the impact made on the students’ collaborative and deep reflection, after repeating the practices over a year. Korthagen’s ALACT model suggests that deepening reflection needs “awareness of essential aspects.” To learn about how to engage in deep and collaborative reflection is not an easy task for students. This study, therefore, observed how students (of teacher preparation program) entered into a different mode of discussion throughout their review sessions lasting more than a year.
This research is centered on a case study in which students of a professional graduate school of teacher education employed dialogue-based review sessions after each mock-lesson. For data analysis, this study has transcribed and compared the first six sessions and the last six sessions of 59 total review sessions carried out.
The prominent theme in the first six sessions was “procedural issues,” and the discussions remained at a superficial level. Every participant spoke at length, but the total number of utterances in each session remained small. The last six sessions, on the other hand, saw discussions challenging the framework assumed by those who played the role of the teacher in the mock-lessons. Every participant spoke in short statements and each session's utterances was large in number.
For further analysis, one from each first six and last six review sessions were selected to inquire into the introductory phase of discussions. In the earliest review session, the participants added judgmental comments or advice in an utterance after giving their thoughts and feelings as a learner. Furthermore, their statements lacked coherence and tended to be fragmented. The session chosen for analysis of the last six, however, found the participants frank in sharing their thoughts and feelings as a learner. The utterances were developed in connection with and on the basis of other people’s statements.
Through comparatively analyzing the discussions at the earliest and the latest stages of review sessions, this study identified some ways in which chains of short utterances lead to collective and deep reflections. The reflective discussion thus proceeds spirally rather than linearly.
This study examines the impacts of teacher education under normal school system on developing the skills for teaching based on the School Survey of Elementary Schools in Ozuki and Three Other Villages of Yamaguchi Prefecture of 1921.
This research found that normal school had positive impact on the skills for teaching by test-score of students. Students taught by teachers with normal school education obtained better scores than students taught by teachers without normal school education. No significant correlation was found between students’ level of intelligence and the test score. In this respect, it can be said that the difference between the student outcomes represented by the test scores was not based on students’ level of intelligence, but on the differences in teachers’ teaching skills. Furthermore, the students’ home backgrounds did not explain in difference in student-outcomes. The students of Kiyosue and Okaeda were mostly of children of farmers’ families, and thus they were thought of being disadvantaged background by comparison to the students of Nishiichi Elementary School, whose family were mostly merchants. However, the student-outcomes showed no notable link to their home backgrounds, and thus it can be said that the difference of test-scores reflected the difference of teachers’ teaching skills.
This study thus concludes that normal school education had impacts on improving teachers’ teaching skills, and its teacher education practices could offer an important insight into today’s teacher training.
This study examines the factors affecting teachers’ aspiration to become school administrators, with a particular focus on gender. A web survey was conducted for 205 male teachers and 106 female teachers, working in public elementary and junior high schools in Japan. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify factors contributing to teachers’ aspiring to be school administrators.
For male teachers, it is suggested that their having experienced school management roles carries an indirect impact on the level of aspiration to be a school administrator through “organizational contribution efficacy”, and their having met a role model school administrator makes a direct impact on their “organizational contribution efficacy” and “positive attitude toward school principals.”
For female teachers, the years of experience indirectly influences their aspiration to become school administrators through two variables: “school management effectiveness” and “approval from school manager”. Experience in school management roles and having had a role model school administrators have indirect impacts on their aspiration to become school administrators when there is “an approval from school administrators”.
These findings suggest that different strategies are necessary for training male teachers and female teachers to take a pathway to become school administrators.