A school in the area struck by the Tohoku Earthquake set out to determine how to provide emotional care for affected students while developing everyday school education. Its support policy had 2 facets : (1) to enrich classroom management so that the classroom could be a "secure environment" in the students' total support system, and (2) to determine and provide appropriate assistance for the students in a class through periodic survey assessments. The results indicate that students' stress levels reduced in a class that was in a good state. This implies that life/activity experience in a Japanese classroom group has an effect similar to that of a group approach.
The two major earthquake disasters in the postwar period of Japan-the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (January 17, 1995) and the Great East Japan Earthquake (March 11, 2011)-were considerably different types of disasters; however, in terms of immense suffering and sorrow, both disasters caused deep and lasting scars in the survivors. For the survivors, this experience of severe grief is, in a sense, something that "cannot be put into words" or "cannot be narrated." This is because even language and speech can be utterly useless in representing incidents and past experiences that an individual believes he or she has truly experienced. The problem here is the futility of communicating the original and authentic meaning of the experience. Disaster learning activities conducted by teachers and children in schools involve confronting with and tackling a fundamental contradiction: how can such memories of deep sorrow be expressed and shared? In order to tackle the question of whether pedagogical practice can overcome such a contradiction, this article analyzed three cases of reconstruction-oriented learning. The article then sought to shed light on the role that can be played by learning activities, in which teachers and children participate, and their significance. Drawing upon the framework of cultural-historical activity theory, the article analyzed teaching and learning from such experiences of disaster. Activity theory offers a conceptual framework that views the object-oriented collective activity system as the basic unit of analysis of human practices and development as a rich source of ideas and tools for modeling future innovative activities. The results clarified the following characteristics of the pedagogical practice. ● Every pedagogical practice overcame the institutional boundaries of the so-called encapsulation of traditional school learning, which were sealed within the walls of textbooks and classroom. ● The "objects" of learning were expanded and an expansive learning activity toward the discovery and creation of problems in the real life-world of disasters was created. ● The activity created "knots" of collaboration and exchange with various communities, organizations, and participants outside school, which could be described figuratively as "knotworking" learning activities. Through this, children were given opportunities to meet and form bonds with the "providers of learning" who could offer learning that was different from textbooks. Thus, disaster learning has the potentiality to create learning activities that will contribute toward changing surrounding communities and society for the better. This will be realized through forging knots between teachers, children, and a variety of partners outside school and helping to create a disaster subculture on the basis of new mutual support.