What Japanese High School Teachers Say about Social Studies

Hiromi Kawaguchi, Kazuhiro Kusahara, Masato Ogawa


The purpose of this study is to investigate what Japanese social studies teachers at two different types of schools say about social studies. The researchers highlight the following three research questions inspired by Evans(2004)’s work; 1)What is the learning goals which the sampled Japanese social studies teachers set for their lessons?; 2) How do the Japanese school teachers teach social studies?; 3) Why do they prefer to choose those goals and pedagogies? By asking these questions, the researchers hoped to gain a better understanding of Japanese teachers’ beliefs, teaching, and attitudes and perceptions of social studies instruction. The classroom teachers seem to be one of the most powerful forces shaping social studies goals and objectives. The teacher’s beliefs, social studies knowledge bases, and understanding of students and learning resources available mold the nature of any social studies programs. Teachers may have little control over budget and only occasional influence on the selection of textbooks, but they are the final arbiters of what occurs in classroom. Any curricular change that is not viewed favorably by teachers can be effectively vetoed. Teachers also make myriad decisions to select and effectively implement a particular teaching strategy. Any change or improvement in social studies, of course, lies largely in the hand of teachers. Himeno et al. (2014) pointed out that the high school teachers would be required high professionalism in relation to subject teaching comparing to other types of school. This is probably because the achievement gap between the schools is bigger due to the entrance examination of high school. With rise of the rate of enrollment in senior high schools to about 98%, the high school teachers are required to confront more problems such as high dropout rate            and achievement gap. As described in details later, the main focus of teacher research in Japan seemed to be the teacher in compulsory education, namely, elementary and junior high school and high school teachers has been received less focus. Thus, this research will show how high school teachers say about their lessons in different types of high schools.

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