• GAKUNEN: TEACHER PRACTICES AT A PRIVATE JAPANESE HIGH SCHOOL IN THE EARLY 21st CENTURY

      Churchill, Eton, 1964-; Beglar, David J.; Aspinall, Robert W., 1962-; Bostwick, Michael; Casanave, Christine Pearson, 1944- (Temple University. Libraries, 2017)
      This three-year study is an ethnography of communication of a private high school in Japan. The purpose of this study is to investigate how teachers at this private high school understand their environment in the context of changes in Japanese education and even larger changes in Japanese society. These changes include a decreasing population in Japan, shifting university admission policies, and changes to teacher licensing regulations. Methods of data collection include participant observations, interviews, artifact collection, and focus groups. Although the focus is on teachers, students and informants outside of the school are included in order to provide a fuller picture of the context in which the study is conducted. These data are viewed through the lens of Communities of Practice developed by Etienne Wenger and also through the Ethnography of Communication framework. The intended audience for this study includes people interested in cross-cultural studies, Japanese studies, educators teaching in or studying secondary education outside of Japan, teacher trainers, and western educators working in Japan as well as Japanese educators. The findings suggest that changes in student population numbers, university entrance requirements, and licensing procedures have all placed new demands upon teachers. Japan’s decreasing population places greater requirements upon teachers in private high schools to help with student recruitment, and one way to do this is by supporting efforts to brand the school name. In addition, shifting admission policies have placed an emphasis on the connection between high schools and their associated universities. Schools actively work to protect this relationship by introducing new elements to the curriculum in an attempt to better prepare students for the university experience. Finally, changes to teacher licensing regulations have introduced teacher training to private high schools as well as new members to the central community of practice in the school, the gakunen, or the group of teachers and students assigned to a year grade. The response to these new members has varied both among the newcomers and the teachers who were licensed before the changes were introduced. Further data collection and analysis reveal how other societal trends shape the local practices of teachers, and how the teachers in the gakunen community of practice work at times together, and at times to resolve conflicts with each other, students, and parents as they confront demands being placed on educators in Japan in the 21st century.