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Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: A Case Study in Japan



This multiple-case study showed the democratic characteristics of lesson study in social studies and how its culture is reproduced in Japan. With Deweyan democracy as a theoretical framework, two lesson studies in social studies were analyzed based on (a) the structure of the lesson study, (b) teachers’ engagement, and (c) the guest teacher’s role. This paper shows how teachers realized “a mode of communicating and sharing the form and experience of a community life” in the two lesson-meditated public spheres and discusses how to further democratic characteristics of social studies lesson study, especially focusing on the guest teachers’ role. Keywords: lesson study, social studies, democracy, professional development, Japan
Journal of Field-based Lesson Studies
2021, 제2 권 제1 , pp.23∼46
ISSN 2713-685X [Print] / ISSN 2713-7899 [Online]
Democratic Characteristics of Social
Studies Lesson Study:
A Case Study in Japan
Jongsung Kim*·Kazuhiro Kusahara**
Hiroshima University
* Corresponding Author: Assistant Professor, Hiroshima University (
** Professor, Hiroshima University
접수일(20201130), 수정일(2021115), 게재확정일(2021122)
This multiple-case study showed the democratic characteristics of lesson study in social
studies and how its culture is reproduced in Japan. With Deweyan democracy as a theoretical
framework, two lesson studies in social studies were analyzed based on (a) the structure of
the lesson study, (b) teachersengagement, and (c) the guest teachers role. This paper shows
how teachers realizeda mode of communicating and sharing the form and experience of
a community lifein the two lesson-meditated public spheres and discusses how to further
democratic characteristics of social studies lesson study, especially focusing on the guest
lesson study, social studies, democracy, professional development, Japan
24 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
I. Lesson Study, Social Studies and Democracy
Lesson study, an approach of teacher professional development wherebyteachers
collaboratively plan, observe, and analyze actual classroom lessons(Lewis et al., 2006,
p. 273), has attracted researchers and educators in many countries across Africa, Asia,
Europe, and North and South America (Cheung & Won g , 2014; Larssen et al., 2018;
Xu & Pedder, 2013). Since Stigler and Hiebert (1999) published The Teaching Gap
attributing Japanese studentshigh achievements in global-scale tests to the culture of
lesson study, the approach has earned a reputation as an effective way of improving
teaching and learning in the classroom. With thereective turnin teacher education
(Schön, 1991, p. 5), from the traditionaltransmission-oriented model(Villegas-Re-
imers, 2003, p. 13) to the new field-based reflection-oriented model(Korthagen
& Kessels, 1999; Randi & Zeichner, 2004), the philosophy of lesson study, especially
collaborative reection and teacher professional community, has resonated in teacher
education communities (Kim, in press-a).
However, the significance of lesson study is not limited to the effectiveness of im-
proving instructional activities in the classroom. Learning from Deweys (1996) un-
derstanding of democracy asa mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated
experience(p. 31), Kim (in press-b) explored the potential of lesson study where
teachers enable the capacity to do democracy with the following concepts:teacher
agency,knowledge democracy,andcollaboration, communication, and commu-
nity.Teachers are requested to participate in lesson study as a curriculum designer,
rather than a user of a ready-made curriculum, and as a knowledge creator, rather
than a knowledge consumer. In the teacher professional community, teachers create
collective wisdom through collaboration and communication and therefore empha-
size the value of field-based practitioner knowledge in teacher education discourses.
In the lesson-mediated public sphere, teachers can realize the associated way of living
and build their own professional community.
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 25
A Case Study in Japan
Kims (in press-b) theorization of lesson study as democratic teacher profession-
al development has more significance in social studies education. Like other school
subjects in a democratic society, social studies aims to foster democratic citizens and
thereby support and propagate democracy (Boyle-Baise, 2003; Davis, 2019; Hess,
2009, 2011; Hursh & Ross, 2000; Parker, 1997, 2003; Thornton, 2005). Yet, at the
same time, social studies is more deeply related to democratic education than other
subjects because its contents directly address society and democracy. Given the sub-
jects primary contribution to educating democratic citizens, social studies teachers,
ascurricular instructional gatekeepers(Thornton, 2005) who are in charge of the
quality of democratic education, need the opportunities to do democracy themselves.
Social studies lesson studythe lesson-mediated public sphere where teachers can
communicate about the aim of the school subject and what and how to teach about
society and democracycan provide the experiences of doing democracy in teacher
education from prospective teachers to in-service teachers.
Focusing on social studies education, this article aims to further Kims (in press-b)
theorization of lesson study as democratic teacher professional development through
two research questions: (a)What are the democratic characteristics of social studies
lesson study?and (b)How have the democratic characteristics of social studies les-
son study been reproduced?This article discusses the democratic features of social
studies lesson study based on two cases in Japan. By doing so, this text complements
Kims (in press-b) work, which mainly illustrated the democratic characteristics of
lesson study at a theoretical level, and it expands his argument in social studies educa-
tion with exemplary cases.
26 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
II. Research Design
We utilize qualitative multiple-case study to clarify the democratic characteristics
of social studies lesson study and how the culture is reproduced. Yin (2003) explained
that qualitative case study is a suitable methodology to answerhowandwhyques-
tions and describe phenomena that are dicult to intervene in and deeply related to
its context. Also, among many case study approaches, Yin illustrated that multiple
case studies enable the discovery of patterns, eithersimilarorcontrasting results
(p. 47). e mentioned features of the qualitative multiple-case study are well-aligned
with this research that seeks to nd specic patterns in a high-contextual situation.
In terms of selecting cases, we considered representativeness and accessibility. Les-
son study is not exclusive for in-service teachers (Kim et al., in press). Pre-service
teachers and even teacher educators themselves conduct lesson study for their profes-
sional development. However, in this research, we mainly focus on in-service teachers
social studies lesson study because of its representativeness in Japan and many other
countries (Yoshida, Matsuda, & Miyamoto, in press), and so accordingly, it displays
their democratic characteristics eectively. In detail, we selected two cases among 20
social studies lesson studies where Kim participated as an observer and Kusahara as
aknowledgeable other(Lewis, 2002), an extraneous educational consultant, from
2015 to 2018. One focuses on introducing and re-educating why and how to conduct
social studies lesson study (theory) and the other on implementing it in a school set-
ting (practice). Besides the accessibility, we intentionally choose the mentioned two
cases to showcase the variety of social studies lesson study and, more importantly,
how its culture is reproduced and enforced.
e rst lesson study was for secondary social studies teachers who wanted to learn
why and how to conduct social studies lesson study. e Hiroshima Prefecture Board
of Education (HPBOE) in Japan hosted this one-day professional development pro-
gram at Sora High School, and the teachers voluntarily took part in it. The second
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 27
A Case Study in Japan
lesson study was organized and implemented by teachers who worked at Kame Ele-
mentary School, located in Hiroshima prefecture. Each teacher at Kame Elementary
School is expected to join in social studies lesson study as school-level teacher profes-
sional development. e school designed a program consisting of several social stud-
ies lesson studies during the school year, and we participated in one of them.
<Table 1> Background information on the two cases
Case Sora High School Kame Elementary School
Where Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
When June 26, 2015 June 13, 2016
Curriculum One-day curriculum Yearlong curriculum
Length 4 hours 3 hours
Purpose Introducing why and how to conduct
social studies lesson study
Implementing social studies lesson study
in a school setting
Approximately 30 teachers
working in Hiroshima prefecture who
volunteered to learn about social studies
lesson study
Approximately 20 teachers who worked
at Kame Elementary School
To compare the mentioned two cases, we focused on the following three aspects:
structure of the social studies lesson study, the engagement of teachers, and the guest
teachers role. e structure is important for understanding social studies lesson study
in general. e two other aspects are also crucial for characterizing social studies les-
son study as democratic professional development because they are directly related to
Deweys explanation of democracy, including diversity and interaction.
In both cases, Kusahara was invited as a knowledgeable other who was expected to
comment on a research lesson based on the academic perspective, and Kim observed
social studies lesson study based on the mentioned three viewpoints. Both cases were
video-recorded and then transcribed. Kim mainly conducted data collection, includ-
28 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
ing recording videos, taking field notes, gathering learning materials such as work-
sheets, and interviewing Kusahara about his intention for participating in both cases.
Each social studies lesson study was described in as much detail as possible, focus-
ing on the context (the purpose and environment of individual social studies lesson
study) and both the participantsand Kusaharas utterances and behaviors. Then, to
extract democratic characteristics of social studies lesson study, we searched for com-
monalities and dierences by comparing the two cases and exploring each cases role
in reproducing and enhancing social studies lesson study culture in Japan.
III. Findings
1. Social Studies Lesson Study at Sora High School
Aer the supervisors of the HPBOE briey explained the goal and ow of the event,
approximately 30 social studies teachers in Hiroshima prefecture observed a research
lesson that happened in an 11th-grade Japanese history class. The lesson plan and
learning materials had been distributed to the participants in advance. All participants
had lesson study experiences at their schools or during their pre-service training,
which is not rare in Japan (Kim, in press-a). While observing the lesson, participants
wrote down what they thought about it based on their knowledge of lesson study.
e research lessons goal was to understand how the uprising pattern in the latter
period of the Edo Era changed and to explain the reason for the transition. In the Edo
Era, there was a system that people can regularly appeal to an upper load. However,
in the Eras latter period, the system started not to work well, and different types of
uprising appeared. e teacher who opened his classroom prepared primary sources
from which students could understand how the uprising type changed from osso (ir-
regular appeal to an upper lord) to go
so (irregular and violent appeal to an upper lord)
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 29
A Case Study in Japan
to uchikowasi (a riot without belief in their lord). Students were encouraged to analyze
the texts and to notice the trend of the uprising. During the classroom discussion
about the reason for the transition, students proposed the necessity to analyze the data
based onthe power of a lordandpeoples belief in a lordwhen a specic uprising
pattern appeared. Through this process, students were expected to understand that
different uprising patterns were caused by the change in a social structure, such as
weakening of the governing system.
All personnel who observed the research lesson and the teacher who shared his in-
structional activities gathered to talk about the lesson. First, the teacher explained his
intention for the class.e uprising in the period is a small part in the [Japanese] na-
tional curriculum,he said,but I focused on the uprising because I wanted students
to understand naturally about the social transition of the era [through the investiga-
tion of the topic].He also stressed that knowledge is not for memorization but rather
an explanation of new phenomena. at is why he placed much energy into discover-
ing evidence of the transition from studentsprior learning.
After the teachersdebriefing, the participants were encouraged to ask questions
about the lesson. However, no one broke the silence for approximately 30 seconds.
Many of them met for the rst time on that day, so it might have been dicult to open
their mouths in that awkward situation. With the hosts encouragement, some par-
ticipants finally raised their hands and asked questions such asHow are you going
to evaluate studentsgoal achievement?,” “You mentioned knowledge in your speech.
How do you dene it? And what do you mean by utilizing knowledge?,andHow do
you design your writing plan on the blackboard?With these questions and the teach-
ers answers, the participants could better understand what they observed during the
Aer the mentioned communication wrapped up, the host asked the guest teacher,
Kusahara, to share his thoughts on the research lesson. He suggested four points to
consider when thinking about the research lesson. Firstly, he noted thatthe structure
of the lesson is clear: understanding facts, analyzing the trend, and inquiring about
30 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
the reason for the change.Secondly, he stressed that the trial of not making students
memorize historical facts but instead drawing a large picture of the era by applying
a framework was worth learning. Thirdly, he stated that the teachers thought to not
distinguish learning concepts from their utilization should be evaluated highly. Final-
ly, he pointed out that the lesson was quite dierent from the lesson plan distributed
before the class and asked for the reason. e teacher answered that he kept thinking
about how to improve it until the last minute before the lesson started.Every teacher
reorganizes lessons,Kusahara said in response to the teachers comment,and reor-
ganizing is necessary for improving lessons. . . .is is the aim of todays workshop.
In the following session, a workshop was held to introduce why and how to do so-
cial studies lesson study. Kusahara, who was invited as a lecturer to teach the contents,
prepared a social studies lesson study simulation calledpaper symposium.e sym-
posium was a series of papers that three social studies researchers and educators had
commented on regarding a research lesson for fourth graders dealing with a region in
Japan that became rich through growing sugar cane around 1800. e research lesson
focused on understanding the significance of the people who decided to grow sugar
cane to improve the regional economy and appreciate their decision and effort. The
first symposiast criticized the lesson becauseit looks more like a moral education
than social studies education.e symposiast argued that explaining socio-econom-
ic conditions that enabled the growing of sugar cane as a commercial crop in that
region was crucial for the lesson to be a social studies lesson. Based on the idea, he
also provided an alternative lesson plan. e second symposiast agreed with the alter-
native suggested by the rst symposiast. Still, the second symposiast wrote,It is not
possible to teach based on [the rst symposiasts suggestion] because it is too dicult
and complicated for the fourth graders.Finally, the last symposiast criticized the rst
symposiasts suggestion, reasoning that it would be impossible to implement in the
classroom as it was. He simulated the rst symposiasts lesson plan and revised it to be
suitable for the fourth graders.
In groups of four, the participants were encouraged to discuss the background of
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 31
A Case Study in Japan
each symposiasts suggestions. After the participants gave presentations of their dis-
cussions, Kusahara highlighted two perspectives that teachers needed to keep in mind
when talking about a lesson. The first perspective wasthe multilayers of lesson.
Kusahara (2006) explained four layers to consider in a social studies lesson: practice,
plan, model, and theory [Figure 1].If levels do not match when talking about a re-
search lesson,Kusahara said,the discussion would not interlock.For example, the
first symposiast suggested his idea as a model that could give implications to prac-
titioners. The second symposiast understood the first symposiasts suggestion as a
model, so they could communicate with one another even though they had dierent
opinions about the details. However, the third symposiast understood the rst sympo-
siasts suggestion as a plan or practice level. erefore, his comments were not well-in-
terconnected with the other two symposiasts.
[Figure 1] The multilayers of lesson and the methodology of lesson study (Kusahara, 2006).
e other perspective wasimmanent criticismandextraneous criticism.Kusa-
hara explained that immanent criticism, also called acounseling model,is to think
about better ways to achieve the goal based on respecting the practitioners original
aim. e second and third symposiastsperspectives were based on this stance. Extra-
neous criticism, which is also called theoverturning model,is to criticize the lessons
objective based on educational theories. e rst symposiast utilized this approach.
32 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
After understanding the mentioned perspectives for doing social studies lesson
study, the participants were asked to propose an alternative to the research lesson.
One participant suggested a simulation in which students could find the similarities
between their school life and the transition of the uprising pattern in the latter period
of the Edo Era. In the simulation, students were asked to discover a problem in their
classroom and solve the problem with the homeroom teacher rst. If it went unsolved,
then the issue would be discussed with the school principal and even a congressman
in the region. After a short silence during which the participants were reluctant to
share their alternatives, Kusahara suggested another possible example togive the stu-
dents the task of designing the osso, go
so, or uchikowasi plan as people in the era, con-
sidering the historical context.After summarizing the workshops main points, the
host appealed to the participants to utilize what they had learned and apply it in their
own school settings.
2. Social Studies Lesson Study at Kame Elementary School
All Kame Elementary School teachers, the principal, and the guest teacher (Kusa-
hara) gathered at a 5th-grade classroom where a research lesson was conducted. e
lesson plan had been distributed to all participants the day before, and the teachers
were asked to write down their ideas to make the lesson better while observing it. It
seemed that they were familiar with the task.
e research lesson started with the teacher showing the students two photographs
of a plain in Japan. One photo was taken in 2002, and the other picture was shot in
2012 after farmland consolidation in the same area.Even though it was expensive
and took much time,the teacher said,people in this area agreed with farmland con-
solidation.Aerwards, the teacher asked students to write down what they wanted to
learn in this lesson and shared the responses with other students. Aer communicat-
ing with students on the issue, students and the teacher decided on the question of the
day:Why do people consolidate farmland even though it costs a lot and takes much
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 33
A Case Study in Japan
First, the students guessed potential answers at this stage, and some students shared
their hypotheses with the class. Aerwards, the teacher showed some learning mate-
rials: a picture of the water system of the area after farmland consolidation; a graph
showing the change in average farming time per year; and two photographs of farm-
ing, in which one was taken before machines were used, and the other was shot aer
machines were introduced. Students were asked to write down what they noticed from
these materials, and many of them answered that farming time decreased because of
the usage of machines.
e teacher also informed the students that agricultural machines such as tractors
are very expensive and that farmers only use them for a short period each year. en,
the teacher asked the students,What would you do if you were a farmer?After
group discussion, some students answeredborrow a machine from friends,” “buy one
and exchange it with others,andgive up farming.Lastly, students wrote down the
answer to the days question in their worksheets. One student wrote,Due to the ma-
chines, farmers can grow crops with less eort.
Unlike the case at Sora High School, the discussion on the research lesson at Kame
Elementary School was more focused. The teacher who taught the research lesson
had prepared two topics that she wanted to discuss with the other teachers. One was
how to improve the introduction of the lesson,and the other washow to encour-
age students to become engaged in the classroom discussion.The participants were
divided into groups of six and discussed the suggested issues based on their observa-
tions. eir ndings were as follows:e connection between the two photographs
[of before and aer farmland consolidation] and todays question was weak,andat
meager connection made the whole lesson vague, so the discussion was also vague.
Also, the participants were encouraged to find solutions to overcome the problems.
ey suggested the following solutions:Suggest clear criteria for comparing [the two
pictures],” “Dont pick up all responses from the students. Select and guide the stu-
dents to the answer that the teacher had planned,andFocus on the benets of farm-
34 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
land consolidation.
Aer the focused discussion on the research lesson, that days leader of social stud-
ies lesson studythis job is rotated so that each teacher at Kame Elementary School
becomes the leader at some pointgave some feedback based on his experience
with teaching about farming. He made two points in his feedback. One was that the
students at this school were not familiar with agriculture. He argued that the teacher
needed to make connections between the students and farming so that the students
could feel the days question as their own question. e other point was that machines
were not the only reason for farmland consolidation. e population in rural regions
of Japan is aging, and younger generations are leaving. To support agriculture and im-
prove its eciency, farmers and the government have worked towards farmland con-
solidation. He pointed out the necessity of deep inquiry into the lesson contents when
designing a lesson.
I did not have enough knowledge to design the lesson properly. erefore, I think
I taught the lesson vaguely,the teacher who gave the research lesson said. To improve
the lesson, she picked up the following suggestions from the participants:Make
students feel that they must answer todays question,andConsider the deeper so-
cio-economic context of Japanese agriculture such as the aging population in the
countryside.Even aer the session was over, the participants kept discussing the les-
son with one another.
The guest teacher, Kusahara, led the next session. This lesson study was a part of
Kame Elementary Schools yearlong professional development program. Kusahara,
who participated in consecutive social studies lesson studies at the school, mentioned
what was improved from the last time and what needed to be improved next time. He
positively evaluated the teachers attempt to overcome the previously indicated prob-
lem, which wasallow students to make todays question.However, Kusahara cast
doubts if the days question was answered well and if the teacher dealt with the stu-
dentsguesses properly.
Kusahara made four suggestions about the lesson. The first wasselecting the ap-
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 35
A Case Study in Japan
propriate learning materials.He stated,e before-aer strategy that the teacher uti-
lized in the materials was worth referring to. However, there was a mistake in reading
the graph of farmers working hours.In the graph, the interval of the farming hours
between 1960 and 1970 dropped drastically. In contrast, the gap between 2000 and
2010 fell by a comparatively small amount even though the farmland consolidation
bettered agricultural machinesuse. In turn, this meant that the graph indicated that
farmland consolidation was not directly related to the use of machines. From this,
Kusahara stressed the necessity of reading learning materials carefully. Also, Kusaha-
ra argued that the questionWhat would you do if you were a farmer?did not help
answer the days question. For him, this activity was not connected to the aim of the
lesson. erefore, Kusahara suggested not using learning materials that do not align
with the lessons goal.
The second suggestion wasavoiding vagueness.Kusahara mentioned the work-
sheet that the students were asked to use to write down the answer to the days ques-
tion was just a blank box. erefore, he suggested putting the phraseFarmland con-
solidation was implemented because _________” in the box. Kusahara said thatthis
can guide the students to have a more specic perspective about what they were asked
to answer during the lesson(i.e., the purpose of farmland consolidation so that the
lesson can be clearer).
Kusahara surfaced the third suggestion by asking,How can we make an authentic
question?He suggested utilizingabductive reasoning,mentioning that the teacher
who taught the research lesson used the skill that day. e teacher had asked the stu-
dents,If you were farmers, do you think that you would agree to farmland consoli-
dation even though it costs much time and money?is method provides an oppor-
tunity to make a hypothesis in a ctional but personalized context. Kusahara said that
usingabductive reasoningduring the lessons introduction encouraged students
engagement in the days question.
The last suggestion wasbetrayal of studentsexpectations.Kusahara was con-
cerned how teachers tend only to guide students to nd answers in learning materials
36 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
(or textbooks). He criticized this tendency because students would expect to nd an-
swers easily, making them bored during the class. Instead, Kusahara argued the neces-
sity of betraying studentsexpectations. Bybetraying,he meant giving students the
opportunities to explain social phenomena based on their knowledge first and then
providing counterevidence to elicit the feeling that they need to re-inquire and adjust
their prior knowledge. Kusahara suggested the teacher and the participants point out
either the gap in understanding the reason for farmland consolidation between the
students and society or the fact that there is no causal relationship between farmland
consolidation and using machines in order to give the students another chance for in-
3. Comparison
A. Structure
e structures of the two social studies lesson studies were quite similar. e simi-
larities included the following: participants and the guest teacher observed a research
lesson, the participants and the guest teacher had discussions about the lesson, and
the guest teacher led a workshop. Aer observing the lesson, the participants reected
on the research lesson based on their educational views. en, they talked about the
lesson and tried to nd ways to make it better. At the end of the lesson study, the guest
teacher suggested some perspectives that the teachers could refer to when designing
their own lesson plans.
In contrast to the overall structure, the workshop session in the two cases diered as
it was closely connected to the aim of each social studies lesson study. e rst case at
Sora High School was to introduce why and how to do social studies lesson study. e
HPBOE hosted it to improve teachers’ “lesson study literacyin the region; therefore,
the workshop focused on simulating how social studies lesson study is practiced. In
contrast, the aim of the second case was to improve the research lesson and for each
participant to reflect on their own view of education. The Kame Elementary School
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 37
A Case Study in Japan
workshop focused on counseling about improving both the research lesson and the
participantseducational views.
B. Discussion
e participants of each social studies lesson study were not passive learners. Aer
observing the research lesson, they were encouraged to communicate about it. The
discussions can be categorized into two categories:logic talk(Kim et al., 2015) and
aims talk(ornton, 2005). Logic talk, which is similar toanalysis, criticism, and
improvement of the lesson from the practitioners internal rationale(Moriwake,
1987, p. 41), concerns eective ways to achieve a lessons goal. Changing the order or
the shape of learning activities, nding ways of encouraging studentsengagement in
learning activities, and adjusting the learning materials to be more student-friendly
are good examples of logic talk. Aims talk, which is similar toanalysis, criticism,
and improvement of the lesson from the extraneous alternative rationale(Moriwake,
1987, p. 41), focuses on the lessons original aims and participantseducational views.
Advice to change a lessons entire conceptfrom understanding the significance of
the people who made the cultivation of sugar cane possible as a commercial crop and
appreciating them, to inquiring about socio-economic conditions that allowed for the
growing of sugar canwould be a good example of aims talk.
However, the addressed contents and each participants engagement in the dis-
cussion were different in each case. Communication in the first social studies lesson
study at Sora High School can be described as question and answer. It was a time to
understand why and how the teacher designed the lesson rather than discussing it.
Because most participants met one another for the rst time and were not accustomed
to talking about their lessons, the participants were not very active in the discussion;
there were a few seconds of silence when they were asked to communicate. By con-
trast in the second social studies lesson study, the teachers actively participated in
the discussions, even after the session finished. This school, Kame Elementary, had
38 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
practiced lesson study as professional development based on a yearlong curriculum.
Teachers knew how to carry out discussions and regarded social studies lesson study
as a learning opportunity to improve their instructional activities and reect on their
educational views. Also, the discussion contents were more focused than in the first
case because the teacher who gave the research lesson suggested topics that she want-
ed to discuss to improve the lesson, teaching, and learning in her classroom.
C. The Guest Teacher’s Role
In both cases, the guest teacher (Kusahara) played a role in bringing new perspec-
tives into social studies lesson study. When participants talked about the lesson, they
focused on immanent criticism such as theeective way of writing on a blackboard
ormaking strong connections between the students and the days question.Howev-
er, at the workshop, the guest teacher attempted to connecttheorywithpractice.
The guest teacher gave some immanent criticisms, but he also suggested new per-
spectives to see the lessons based on educational theories. rough these extraneous
criticisms, the teachers had opportunities to reect on both the lesson and their edu-
cational views from outside of their own experiential knowledge.
However, in regards to each social studies lesson studys aim, the guest teachers role
diered in the two cases. In the rst case, the guest teacher was aninstructorwhose
main purpose was to demonstrate why and how to do social studies lesson study, and
he needed to take leadership of the lesson study. By contrast, the guest teacher par-
ticipated in the second case as anadvisorwho was a school mentor for teacher pro-
fessional development and gave some additional suggestions to improve their lessons
and educational views.
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 39
A Case Study in Japan
IV. Discussion
The primary goal of social studies lesson study is to make a research lesson better.
During the process, the participants are expected to learn new strategies to improve
their own lessons, and they have opportunities to reflect on their educational views.
[Figure 2] shows the general structure of social studies lesson study, consisting of ob-
servation of a research lesson, communication about it, and a workshop with the guest
teacher, also referred to as knowledgeable others. The structure represents how to
make a research lesson better; however, at the same time, it also illustrates the process
of discussion to cultivate the participantsdemocratic habits.
[Figure 2] The interaction of diverse opinions in social studies lesson study.
Discussion in social studies lesson study aligns with Deweys (1996) explanation of
democracy. Firstly, every participants voice is valued in social studies lesson study.
Social studies lesson study systematically creates an atmosphere where participants
can express their thoughts on a research lesson and create collective wisdom based on
the discussion. Even though each teacher has their own educational views, teachers
voices are easily forgotten in many professional development programs, and teachers
becomeguestsin their own learning. However, social studies lesson study system-
ically encourages teachers to share their thoughts on the lesson and one anothers
40 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
educational views. All teachers have a right, or an obligation, to share their opinions
in social studies lesson study. rough discussion, teachers can recognize the impor-
tance of their voices to improve the status quo and participate in teacher professional
development as the ownersof their own learning.
Secondly, social studies lesson study provides a venue where different educational
views coexist and wholesomely compete. Social studies lesson study is a collabora-
tive inquiry to improve a research lesson. During this collaborative process, teachers
naturally encounter others who have dierent educational views. However, all partic-
ipants share the common goal to enhance a research lesson, so theinteraction of the
dierent forms of associated life(Dewey, 1996, p. 42) is collaborative, positive, and
healthy. In the safe lesson-mediated public sphere, teachers can do democracy and
cultivate democratic minds.
Thirdly, aims talk in social studies lesson study makes it more democratic than
other school subjectslesson studies. As mentioned earlier, social studies has been
the primary school subject that sustains and develops democracy. Aims talk, which is
communication about social studiesgoals and missions, discusses democracy per se.
Teachers need to keep reecting on their educational views to provide students with
proper democratic education. Having a democratic mind through the experiences
of doing democracy is crucial for social studies teachers to design their instruction-
al activities more democratically. For example, based on a critical understanding of
governance, the lesson on the uprising can be taught to deconstruct and reconstruct
studentsunderstanding of the relationship between people and government. e les-
son on farmland consolidation can also be given by analyzing and criticizing why the
Japanese government adopted the farmland consolidation policy at a specic timing.
The comparison of the two cases revealed that the democratic level of social stud-
ies lesson study can vary. Regarding the participantsdiscussion, the first case was
less democratic than the second case. In the rst social studies lesson study, the guest
teacher took leadership, and the participants asked questions about the research les-
son rather than discussing it. Contrastingly, the second social studies lesson study
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 41
A Case Study in Japan
was more democratic than the rst one. Participants shared their thoughts about the
research lesson and developed their own solutions collaboratively. e guest teachers
role was to give advice and not to teach specic information.
Although the first social studies lesson study was less democratic, it is wrong to
underestimate its meaning. e rst case was for introducing the aim and the process
of social studies lesson study. The guest teacher mainly suggested a model of social
studies lesson study and taught how to relativize opinions for discussion. However,
without creating a common foundation for discussion, which can reproduce the cul-
ture of lesson study, real participation in social studies lesson study is not possible, like
in the second case. e social studies lesson studys culture, which cultivates teachers
democratic habits by encouraging teachers to participate in a lesson-mediated public
sphere, is reproduced and enhanced through the introductory lesson study, as in the
case at Sora High School, and authentic lessons study implementation, as in the case
at Kame Elementary School.
e most important element for a successful social studies lesson study is for teach-
ers to claim thatthere is no perfect lesson.ere are numerous concepts about what
comprises a good lesson, and therefore, discussions about lessons can be diverse.
Based on this diversity, teachers can reflect on their educational views and improve
their instructional activities. However, it is not easy for teachers to be courageous
enough to open their classrooms to other teachers. The groups, especially schools,
that wish to adopt social studies lesson study as their professional development pro-
gram need to create a comfortable and safe atmosphere where participants can discuss
their lessons. As a systemic approach to communicating about lessons, which includes
logic talk and aims talk, social studies lesson study can create a hospitable atmosphere
and help teachers fostera habit of discussion.
42 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
V. For more democratic professional development
As gatekeepers of lessons and guardians of democracy, social studies teachers
should have democratic minds. Social studies lesson study as democratic professional
development helps teachers accept differences, recognize diversity, and pursue the
common good (Kim, in press-b). Participating in discussions during social studies
lesson study creates a more democratic mindset in teachers, betters their social studies
lessons democratically and, in turn, improves studentsperspectives.
ere is no limitation to democracy. Besides addingthe communication focusing
on discovering the power structure behind knowledge and the relationship among
the knowledge, students and societies(i.e.,critical talk), into lesson study (Kim, in
press-b), social studies lesson study can be more democratic depending on the guest
teachers role and the degree of teacher agency. When the guest teacher advised partic-
ipants in the two cases in this research, the participants tended to accept his opinions
as perfect answers. is tendency means that the guest teacher can be either a dictator
or a facilitator of discussion in the social studies lesson study. e guest teacher should
recognize their positions in this power game and then provide multiple alternatives for
teachers to select and make adjustments. Teachers also ought to understand their role
as the agent of their professional development. e participants of social studies lesson
study should decide how to improve their own instructional activities based on critical
understandings of guest teacherssuggestions. is interpretative and communicative
relationship between the guest teacher and the participants can prevent the possible
power imbalance and (re)dene the teachers as the owner of their learning.
There are no perfect lessons, but only the orientation for good (or better) lessons
exists. With a guest teacher who facilitates discussion and not the empowerment of
their positions, teachers can pursue authentic democratic education consistent with
these democratic ideals.
Jongsung Kim·Kazuhiro Kusahara
Democratic Characteristics of Social Studies Lesson Study: 43
A Case Study in Japan
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46 현장수업연구2 권 제 1
한 글 초
사회과 수업연구의 민주적 특징: 일본의 사례연구
김종성 · 쿠사하라 카즈히로
본 다중사례연구(multiple-case study)에서는 일본의 사회과 수업연구의 민주적 특징
과 그러한 민주적 수업연구의 문화가 어떻게 재생산되고 있는지를 논의한다. 구체적으로
는 듀이의 민주주의에 대한 이해를 바탕으로, (a) 수업연구의 구조, (b) 교사들의 참여, (c)
게스트티쳐(guest teacher)의 역할이라는 관점에서 두 건의 일본의 사회과 수업연구를 분
석하였다. 본 논문은 사회과 수업으로 매개된 공론장 속에서 교사들이 어떻게 “공동생활
의 형식이자 경험을 전달하고 공유하는 방식”을 실현하고 있는지를 보이고, 특히 게스트
티쳐(guest teacher)의 역할을 고려하며 사회과 수업연구를 보다 민주적으로 발전시킬 수
있는 방략에 대해 논의한다.
수업연구, 사회과, 민주주의, 전문성 신장, 일본
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Full-text available
Lesson Study does not have the same meaning as its original Japanese expression Jugyou Kenkyuu, a combination of two Japanese words—Jugyou meaning instruction or lesson(s) and Kenkyuu meaning study or research. This edited volume discusses how Lesson Study is utilized in Japanese teacher education, how this system reproduces the very culture of Lesson Study and the opportunities and challenges that arise when Lesson Study-based education expands to the rest of the world. This book will appeal to anyone interested in learning about Lesson Study.
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to conduct a structured review of literature on lesson study (LS) in initial teacher education (ITE). The focus was on how learning and observation were discussed in studies of LS in ITE. Design/methodology/approach Each national team (in Norway and Britain) undertook independent searches of published peer-reviewed articles. The resulting articles were then combined, screened and collaboratively reviewed, the focus being on two areas of enquiry: how learning is represented and discussed; and the extent to which observation is described and used to capture evidence of learning. Findings The literature review indicated that there was no universally held understanding of, or explanation for, the process of observation, how it should be conducted, and who or what should be the principal focus of attention. There was also a lack of clarity in the definition of learning and the use of learning theory to support these observations. Research limitations/implications This study was limited to a review of a selection of peer-reviewed journal articles, published in English. It arrives at some tentative conclusions, but its scope could have been broadened to include more articles and other types of published material, e.g. theses and book chapters. Practical implications Research that investigates the use of LS in ITE needs to be more explicit about how learning is defined and observed. Furthermore, LS research papers need to assure greater clarity and transparency about how observations are conducted in their studies. Originality/value This literature review suggests that discussion of both learning and observation in ITE LS research papers should be strengthened. The review highlights three principal challenges that ITE LS researchers should consider: how to prepare student-teachers to observe (professional noticing being a promising option), the wide variation in the focus of classroom observation in ITE lesson studies, and discussion of what is understood by learning needs to stand at the heart of preparation for lesson studies in ITE.
Lesson Study is well-known as an effective approach to improve teaching and learning. However, “effectiveness” in teacher education is a small fragment of its vast potentials. This chapter aims to theorize Lesson Study as democratic professional development in a tiny step towards maximizing its potentials. For achieving this aim, I analyze the literature and my Lesson Study experiences in Japan with Deweyan democracy as a theoretical framework. The democratic characteristics of Lesson Study will be discussed from the perspectives of teacher agency, knowledge democracy and collaboration, communication, and community. Also, with the understanding that democracy cannot be fully achieved, I make suggestions to further the discussion of democratic characteristics of Lesson Study: Reclaiming teacher agency, beware of the power relationship in the lesson-mediated public sphere, and adopting critical pedagogy.
vorhanden No Abstract available
Purpose – There has been rapid proliferation of Lesson Studies and Learning Studies over the world. Do they really help teachers’ professional development and student learning? The purpose of this paper is to review studies from 2000 to 2010 on Lesson Study and Learning Study to unravel their benefits on teachers and students. Design/methodology/approach – Relevant studies were screen and extracted on available electronic databases to evaluate outcome of Lesson Study and Learning Study. The results were based on nine studies which examined the achievement of Learning Study and Lesson Study. Findings – All reviews identified positive evidence supporting the benefits of Lesson Study and Learning Study as powerful tool to help teachers examine their practices and enhance student learning. Although all nine studies showed positive effects of Lesson Study and Learning Study on teaching, learning or both, different outcome measures were employed and the study designs varied in qualities. Originality/value – More well-controlled studies with consistent and validated outcome measures were recommended in the future to address the short- and long-term effects of Lesson Study on students, teachers, and school level. Efforts should be focussed on unveiling the relationship between what is taught and what is learned. Studies using these approaches with more vigorous procedures in randomization and blinding should be implemented.