Our 2-day marathon with the students at Mukogawa University came to a very satisfactory conclusion on Wednesday afternoon, and we now move on to Wakayama prefecture and the resumption of our work with the staff at Kinokuni Children’s Village.
The students and staff at Mukogawa were, as ever, a delight to work with. Our key aims were to cover the following topics:
1. A consideration of the aims of education.
2. A review of Japan’s Fundamental Law of Education – from 1947 to the present day.
3. An introduction to the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Children.
4. The relevance for the above of the 3Di model of multiple intelligences.
5. The history of thought about multiple intelligences and the genesis of the 3Di model.
6. The relevance to the above of current practice in England of PSHE education and concern for the wellbeing of children.
7.Ideas concerniing the teaching of PSHE os a discrete ‘subject’ versus a whole-school approach to PSHE that embeds it in the entire work of the school.
8. The role of the headteacher as a leader of learning.
9. The assessment and tracking of PSHE for the wellbeing of children and young people.
10. A consideration of the “Every Child Matters” approach to the wellbeing of children in contrast to schooling which is focused on attainment in tests and exams; provision for special educational needs and the inclusion of all pupils in mainstream education.
11. A consideration of curriculum content and curriculum breadth in England and Japan, and the drive to raise attainment in England and Japan.
12. The effect of the above with regard to children’s broader achievements including PSHE, creativity, enjoyment of learning, independent learning and lifelong learning.
13. The relevance of international league tables, and the influence of politics and political control of education.
14. The meaning of emotional intelligence, and its relationship to the other intelligences described in the 3D model.
15 The practice of health education, including mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.
16. The teaching of human values as the basis of spiritual intelligence, and the development of virtuous attitudes and behavior for successful living.
17. The involvement of children and young people in setting learning agendas, the personalisation of learning, and the development of active styles of learning to overcome passivity and negativity in children.
18. The crucial role of nursery (kindergarten) and primary (elementary school) teachers in all of the above, and the importance of learning how to learn. The rate of educational progress from 4 to 11.
19. The role of teachers in developing a love of learning and a commitment to independent and autonomous learning as the foundation for creativity, future employability and entrepreneurship.
20. The crucial role of teachers and the teaching profession in developing and practising a pedagogy relevant to the 21st Century.
Our thanks go to Professor Yoko Yamasaki for her collaboration in this project and for her invitation to Mukogawa University.
Sincere thanks to all the students and the professors who took part in these intensive days – and thanks for staying with us throughout the sessions in spite of the language difficulties.
We set out to paint a big picture of the education scene as we see it, using big brushes and broad brush strokes, and not filling in all the details. We recognise that as young adults the students have already seen the fine details of many aspects of education, but may not have had the time or opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture and what it means to the future development of children and young people. If our work has helped them to do that then we are very grateful.
Over many years as practising professionals we have worked with and supported many young teachers who are in the first two or three years of their teaching careers. With hindsight most teachers recognise that it’s almost impossible to be a perfect teacher, and hard to be even a good teacher as a new entrant to the profession. When we lack experience, and we’re just beginning to learn the necessary techniques and skills, then we may have to consider ourselves ‘satisfactory’ at the beginning of a career, whilst striving always to know more, always to do better.
We wish all of you a long and happy career in teaching, and we trust you will work always in the best interests of your pupils, enabling them to enjoy the right to a joyful and stimulating experience of school, a broad and balanced curriculum, and high achievement in every aspect and all of the intelligences.