Academic journal article International Education Studies

Acceptance and Transformation of English Educational Theory in Japan: On Student-Centered Education

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Acceptance and Transformation of English Educational Theory in Japan: On Student-Centered Education

Article excerpt

Abstract

In Japan, various theories and methodologies of English education born in other countries have been practiced, but the result has left a lot to be desired. Still, each theory has its own sociocultural background. When theory goes beyond its culture and locality, it transforms by losing its originality and absorbing new elements from a different sociocultural background. The transformation somehmes happens due to other reasons such as misinterpretation, imprecise translation, etc. In Japan of today, technical terms of pedagogy, such as facilitator, empowerment, and contract, are popular in English education. Those terms were introduced by Carl Rogers, an American humanistic psychologist and educator who established an education theory, Student-Centered Education. Rogers' technical terms as well as his educational theory are often misunderstood or not taken from the full content in Japan. In this essay, I present some examples of common misunderstanding and misuse of Student-Centered Education in Japan caused by scholars' incomplete research, ignoring the difference of the subject such as student's age, impact from Learner-Centered Education, and sociocultural background difference between the U.S. and Japan. It is natural that theory transforms when it reaches to a different environment. If an imported educational theory does not work as expected, it is important to consider the fact that theory may been changed. One needs to examine the reasons why it has deviated from its original principle and adjust the theory when applying it to the student. (Note 1)

Keywords: student-centered education, English education, transformation of theory, Japan

1. Introduction

In Japan, theories and methodologies of English education born in other countries have been prachced in order to improve student's command of English. They, however, produce poor results, and hence various theories and methodologies have come and gone. Such a rapid change only confuses student. We should remember, however, that each theory and methodology's birth hes to its sociocultural background. For an educational theory, its principle, purpose, methodology, and way to deal with problems in education has to do with its society and culture. Especially in the U. S., an educational theory is created with a deep thinking of improving society. Unlike the rest of the world, educational theory in the U.S. is a way to revolutionize society (Hara et al., 2005, p. 157). When such a theory spreads beyond its social, cultural, and national border, it could lose some of its original elements and even some important essence. To demonstrate what an educational theory could be changed when it reaches a different environment, I use the transformation of Student-Centered Education in Japan as an example. The major reasons that have contributed to the changes are incomplete research, ignoring the difference of the subject such as student's age, impact from Learner-Centered Education, and sociocultural background difference between the U.S. and Japan. This article shall contribute to an argument in Japan regarding whether the pedagogy of Student-Centered Education works or not while the argument has been developed with an unawareness of the transformation of Student-Centered Education.

2. Acceptance and Transformation

2.1 Incomplete Research

Student-Centered Education is a whole person, or humanistic, education created by Carl Rogers. In the field of English education in Japan, however, Rogers tends to be regarded as one of the creators of humanistic language teaching or Learner-Centered Education. For instance, one of the research books on English education in Japan, A comprehensive list of current teaching methods of English edited by Tasaki (2002), states about humanistic education as a basis of humanistic language teaching.

Humanistic Education is an educational reform movement which was advocated in the beginning of1970s, based on humanistic psychology, idealism, existentialism, interest in human development, counseling, and psychotherapy. …

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