Lesson Study: A Japanese Approach to Improving Mathematics Teaching and Learning

By Clea Fernandez; Makoto Yoshida | Go to book overview

14
Strategies for Avoiding Isolation
in Order to Enhance Lesson Study

The lesson study open house held at Tsuta illustrates one of the ways in which Japanese teachers connect with colleagues outside of their group in order to extend the learning opportunities that lesson study affords them. Open houses not only allow those organizing them to enrich their lesson study work, but they also provide many learning opportunities for those in attendance, and by extension, the respective lesson study groups that they represent. These benefits explain why some open houses can be quite large, particularly when they are hosted at schools with a good reputation. Most notably, national schools regularly hold open houses, which sometimes are attended by thousands of teachers from all over the country.1

In this chapter we describe the various other ways in which lesson study groups share their experiences with each other in order to mutually enrich their work. In our opinion it is this sharing that makes lesson study particularly powerful because it provides a means not just for small groups of teachers within a school to learn from each other, but more importantly for teachers from all over Japan to do so. We begin by reminding the reader of two common strategies for sharing lesson study work that we have already alluded to in our portrayal of the activities carried out at Tsuta: enlisting an outside advisor, and publishing a research bulletin. We then discuss a number of other sharing strategies, which are both prevalent and critical to mak

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1
Similarly, designated research schools (kenkyushiteiko) also attract large numbers of teachers to their open houses. A designated research school is a school selected and supported financially by the Ministry of Education to do research on a particular topic, generally through conducting lesson study. These research topics tend to be linked to newly introduced or planned changes in the “course of study” that the Ministry of Education is interested in learning more about. Many schools apply to this program because the financial support made available is large (500,000 yen, which is about $3,600). It is also a popular program because teachers feel that they can have an influence on the government's decisions about changes in the “course of study. ”

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