Published Research

Does Lesson Study Have a Future in the United States?

From Nagoya Journal of Education and Human Development, January 2002, No. 1.


When I lived in Japan during 1967, I learned to love sushi. At that time, there were just a few sushi restaurants in the US, patronized almost exclusively by Japanese. I would have confidently bet my meager student income that sushi would never become popular in America. Yet today many Americans eat sushi; there are sushi restaurants throughout the United States, and even Homer Simpson, star of the popular animated TV show, devours raw fish. Who could have predicted that Americans would learn to like such a quintessentially Japanese food?

Now let’s make an unlikely segue from sushi to research lessons (kenkyuu jugyou). When I first began to observe research lessons in 1993, I immediately sensed their worth and interest (just as I immediately recognized the delights of fresh sea urchin.) But I imagined that research lessons were just too exotic to import to the US – based as they are in a centralized educational system, shared curriculum, and tradition of collaboration and self-criticism (hansei). But since 1999, there has been a sudden upsurge of interest in research lessons among Americans. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t receive an email from an American teacher who wants to try research lessons. Is it possible that research lessons will follow the same storyline as sushi?


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