News: Japanese Government Scholarship awarded to Churchill Fellow

Published: 29 Jan 2018

Author: Sam Bamkin
News: Japanese Government Scholarship awarded to Churchill Fellow

Churchill Fellow Sam Bamkin has been awarded a Japanese Government Scholarship 2018 to conduct further research into moral education reforms in Japan. The proposed study aims to understand how recent reforms to strengthen moral education are being implemented in schools and classrooms.

On his Fellowship travels in 2015, Sam sought to learn more about moral education at elementary school in Japan and to incorporate knowledge of the Japanese education system into a new undergraduate course on East Asian Education.

His research began with desktop study at the National Institute of Education Research Library of Education, followed by placement at three Boards of Education and further travel, visiting 21 elementary and junior high schools in six cities in Japan. During this time, Sam observed over 50 classes and undertook interviews or discussions with over 90 teachers, principals, civil servants and other educationalists.

Sam used the insights gained during his travels to write and lead an undergraduate module Global Comparative Education for the BA Education Studies programme at De Montfort University. It is believed to be the only undergraduate comparative education course in the UK focused primarily on Japan or East Asia.

Expanding on a pedagogic model originally developed by Sam on the Asia Studies Development Program at the East-West Center in Hawai’i (2014), the course examined one aspect of education elsewhere each week. The course was enhanced through collaboration with students, who suggested new topics, produced interesting and insightful works, and co-planned an annual field trip to Japan which has run for three years with 36 participants from De Montfort University and a greater number from Meisei University, which hosted the trip. Evidence of effective learning on this course was cited in Sam’s successful application for Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

Data collected during the Fellowship has informed two publications on moral education reform with one more on the way. The MEXT scholarship will further one strand of this research, initially for two years based at Tokyo Gakugei University. The main research objectives address how education reform, particularly in moral education in Japan, is enacted by schools and teachers ‘on the ground’, how moral education in Japan is changing and what capacity teachers and educators have to mediate reform. The research will contribute toward ongoing work on a monograph or thesis on moral education and its reform in Japan.

Read Sam’s report

Read Sam’s latest publication: Reforms to strengthen moral education in Japan: a preliminary analysis of implementation in schools

Below: a moral education class in Yamaguchi being filmed for local television

A moral education class in Yamaguchi being filmed for local television