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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

School of Elementary Education, Fundamental Exercises I揃Research of Issues in Contemporary Elementary Education - Everyone is a Critic of Education -

Ms. Mikako Yamaguchi & Ms. Natsuko Yamamoto
1st year students at the School of Education

This is a required course for students majoring in Elementary Education in the School of Education, a major which was newly established this year. This class was also newly created, and the current participants in the class are all 1st year students majoring in Elementary Education.

The objective of this class is to cultivate the fundamental abilities necessary for educational research, with a focus on the problems related to elementary education in contemporary Japan. Within this theme, a variety of methods are used to instill students with the fundamental abilities of education research, while at the same time using presentations and discussions to establish a personal educational viewpoint. This creates a solid foundation for studies during the 2nd year and later.

This is a full year class, but the academic staff leading the class changes for the first term and the second term. The form of both the classes is exercise-based, and observation of elementary and kindergarten classes are planned for the future.

The contents of the 3 classes which have been held until focused on the very familiar topic of impressionable teachers and classes. Students form groups of two people and write their opinions clearly and simply in large black marker on a paper. The papers of each group are then posted on the blackboard, and the position of the papers is moved freely while considering the relationship with other opinions. The blackboard has axis of reference. Anyone can move the position of the papers if they have an idea, and students pose questions to each other, forming a large diagram above the blackboard. At first, a violent teacher and a teacher who is compassionate towards students appear to be direct opposites, but perhaps the two are divided by only a thin line? Could physical punishment be an expression of compassion? These kinds of questions soon lead to a discussion of each student's experiences, and to a greater discussion of teachers, classes and schools. The professor provides hints that help to create an axis of reference appropriate for organizing the points of debate.

After addressing such issues, each student was given homework to write their own opinions regarding the topic, "What is a class?" Even if my opinions were a bit uncertain, I was surprised at how I was able to debate the topic of education. In the future, the class is scheduled to address teachers and classes which appear in television dramas and literature.

The appeal of this class is the opportunity to freely express opinions through a series of exercises. Should the class debate come to a standstill, the professor stimulates student's interest and provides motivation through advice or interesting facts regarding educational issues. It is easy to become involved in the class since the topics begin from familiar issues, and it is refreshing how the contents develop and become deeper. I highly recommend this class of the Elementary Education major, where fundamental abilities are gained naturally by considering contemporary educational issues.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)