Lesson Study Revisited (Jugyou Kenkyuu) @lessonstudyuk

Lesson Study seems to be enjoying a surge in popularity right now. It’s hardly surprising – for at the heart of this improvement strategy are teachers working together, trying out new ideas and talking about teaching and learning to improve pedagogic practice. The collective responsibility. What’s not to like?! Yet, teachers still work in isolation, working long hours producing detailed lesson plans – following routines that have seen little change since the 1900s – despite advances in technology and innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Why?!
The purpose of this blog is to share the origins of lesson study – because it’s been around for quite a while (a bit of an understatement) – to provide a brief overview and include a couple of links to some further information/resources for those who would like to know more. Also, to add my voice to those who already ‘shout out’ how powerful collaboration in education is.

Origins of Lesson Study

The origins and principles of lesson study can be tracked back to Japan to the 1870s where study meetings took place about new teaching methods. (Nakatome (ed.) By the middle of the 1960s – Japanese lesson study was well established as a strategy of in-service teacher training. (Fernandez & Yoshida, 2004). Teachers collaborating to study teaching contents and instructions by observing lessons and discussing them.

I love the photograph below – teachers are observing a lesson and filming it. Why? So the teachers can unpick the strategies the observed teacher has employed in order to discuss the impact on learning.

   
An example of a lesson study class in a primary school from Yamanshi Nichinchi Shimbun Newspaper.

If you are interested in reading more, Naomichi Makinae wrote a research paper about the origins of lesson study in Japan, that is well worth a read. What I found particularly interesting was that underpinning lesson study was the ‘Pestalozzian theory’ – well worth a Google. Pestalozzi – a educationalist/reformer I really admire – argued that young children should learn through experience—through physical activity and through concrete experiences with objects, where eduction is child centred and focused on the development of the whole child. No arguments from me!

  
  Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (January 12, 1746 – February 17, 1827) was a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer, who greatly influenced the development of the educational system in Europe and America.

Lesson Study Models
Loosely, lesson study is an improvement strategy where teachers work collegially in small groups through 4 stages. Identification, planning, research/implementation and post session phases. There are a plethora of models (see below) and guides (too numerous to mention) for implementing in school but whichever one you choose – whilst the terminology may differ – the methodology remains the same. Lesson study begins with the child and ends with the child and through this process,  the pedagogic practice/innovative strategies the teacher employs to raise standards and improve outcomes – are developed and refined to ensure they are effective. What I really like about lesson study – is that the teachers involved are on an equal footing (hierarchy eliminated). All are the experts. All leaders of learning. All encouraged to take risks in a supportive setting. How empowering is that?
  

  

  

  

Fig. 1. Produced under the Primary Framework – but the message is still the same.

You might be interested to know that in Japan, lesson study is delivered across school, districts and nationally. Same methodology – different goals. Putting what constitutes effective pedagogic practice and curriculum design into the hands of the professionals. Hmm… Food for thought!

@Iris have practical guidance on how to implement lesson study in school and a free e-book can be downloaded, link below.

How to Implement Lesson Study by IRIS
Apologies for any broken links/errors/inaccuracies. Just let me know.

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