Concepts of professionalism in teaching in Japanese primary schools
This study explores what concepts teachers, parents and school community members have of professionalism in teaching, and especially the boundaries of that professionalism in Japan. It will also consider how these concepts affect teaching practices in schools. This thesis begins with a review of current theories of teacher professionalism drawn largely from western literature and considers the question of why Japanese scholarship has produced little parallel discussion (Chapter 2). It reviews the origins of teacher professionalism in Japan through a historical and cultural account of the development of the education system (Chapter 3), and through an exploration of the training arrangements for, and the working conditions of, Japanese teachers (Chapter 4). Chapters 5 - 7 report the findings from an empirical investigation of attitudes to teacher professionalism. Although most of these investigations were conducted in Japan, some data is included from English subjects in the interests of signalling the particular characteristics of the Japanese situation: teachers, school community members and parents, some with experiences of both Japanese and English school systems, are included. Chapter 8 contains an account of the ideas and practices of a Japanese headteacher who has attempted to reverse many of what he sees as harmful practices within Japanese primary schools, together with the reactions of his teachers, not all of whom are positive. This account illuminates many aspects of professional culture in Japan. The conclusion reviews the principal themes, attempts to explain why the present situation with regard to teacher professionalism has emerged and offers a suggestion for improving the situation; for teachers themselves to reconsider their own role and responsibility, and how the teacher education system might be changed.