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Title: Teacher perceptions on curriculum change in Japan
Author: Matsumoto, Masumi
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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Education reform is a topic in which almost everyone has an opinion. Education affects everyone in a "knowledge-based" society, and is the foundation on which a modern economy runs. Politicians and pundits often propose policies that claim to focus on the needs of pupils, by listening to the voices of concerned parents and gauging academic achievement. However, it is important to recognize that these are not the only concerned parties in education. Arguably the most important part of the system of education is the teachers, since it is the teachers that are responsible for implementing a curriculum, yet they are often overlooked when discussing education reform. Japan currently has a system of regularly reviewing and reforming national education policy. The Central Council for Education (CCE), a part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), prepares a report for the Japanese government approximately every '10 years that makes suggestions for the future direction of education policy. This dissertation examines the result of the latest reform, the new lkiru-chikara ("Zest for living") curriculum, both in the context of previous Japanese education reforms as well as from the perspective of frontline teachers that are implementing the curriculum. To accomplish this, I used an in-depth, multi-method approach of interviews and ' questionnaires to solicit data from 111 teachers working at 37 primary schools across the city of Naha, Okinawa, Japan. I was also able to talk candidly about my findings with the superintendent of the Naha city board of education, giving some insights about the views of decision makers. To analyse this large collection of data, I utilized both thematic network analysis and statistical analysis on qualitative and quantitative data respectively. The themes developed were used to answer five research questions on the implementation of the new curriculum, the support provided for teachers, giving feedback on the new curriculum, overcoming difficulties in implementation and finally, future strategies for implementing reforms. From this analysis, I have found that many of the issues that teachers perceived as significant were caused by factors outside of the current reforms. Even excluding issues such as funding for new equipment and staff, I identified several areas for improvement such as making more use of mentoring to improve teacher training, more strict management of "community events", and assigning appropriate facilities for school counsellors as support staff. Based on these findings, I propose a "three arrows" strategy to enable future reforms to tackle the issues raised by frontline teachers. The suggestions are in three key areas: improved teaching quality through professional development opportunities, improved teaching environment by reviewing non-teaching workload and support staff, and improved support for teachers by actively soliciting teacher feedback and encouraging more communication. I believe by targeting these structural issues, more public discussion will put pressure on the government for future reforms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available