Kodomo no Gakusyu wo Toinaosu (Reconsidering children's learning - A socio-cultural analysis of lessons in a school for students with intellectual disabilities)
Learning is one of the most familiar topics across many populations – as such, I think that there are only a few people who have never thought about the concept of learning. However, have you considered what kind of conceptions about learning are supporting your images of learning itself? The current research investigates a different path of schooling by questioning the conception of learning.
This book begins from the topic of inclusive education – in the discussion regarding inclusive education in Japan, people advocating disabled children’s participation in mainstreaming classes, and people emphasizing special places for their effective learning, have opposed one another. Apart from this dispute, the author questions the fundamental problem preventing inclusion involving children with intellectual disabilities. Through reviewing the research concerning institutions and contemporary situations related to education for children with disabilities in Japan and abroad, the author points out the individualism which underlies the problem. This change in the way of thinking is significant for engaging in discussions concerning inclusive education, which tends to stagnate due to the opposition inherent to the debate.
The premise whereby people believe they can assess children’s learning – referring to children’s scores on cognitive tests, or by observing their behavior – is based on the conceptions of individualism. A low score or an assessment of problematic behavior of children with intellectual disabilities is sometimes used in support of arguments that there are limitations to such children’s ability to learn. However, is this notion true? I wonder whether such discourse – that children with intellectual disabilities have limitations – has been constructed by the iterating researches and practices based upon individualist conceptions.
In place of individualism, this book adopts a socio-cultural approach. Through this approach, humans are regarded as mediated agents who are never separated from contexts or others in classroom settings. Drawing on the idea of anti-reductionism, researchers employing the socio-cultural approach regard the very process of problem-solving via the interaction with materials and humans as the learning process.
The author conducts fieldwork and records lessons at a school for students with intellectual disabilities, and subsequently reconsiders the concept of teaching children in such an environment. Is the ability to learning by these populations special? Does their impairment obstruct their ability to learn? In response to such questions, the four analyses of lessons in this book reveal the potential, not the limit, of children with intellectual disabilities. Furthermore, the finding from this research includes some implications for education in future where the improvement of information and communication technology, along with aspects of globalization, further accelerate the uncertainty induced by society.
As this book covers topics ranging from basic to advanced knowledge of education for children with intellectual disabilities and educational research, various readers can participate in engaging with the contents. I expect that this book will stimulate the curiosity of many readers who aspire to research in the future, and I hope to provide clues for considering education for the next generation.
(Written by: KUSUMI Yusuke / July 01, 2022)
The 2nd UTokyo Jiritsu Award for Early Career Academics (The University of Tokyo 2021)
Kido Award (The Japanese Association of Educational Psychology 2020)
One School’s Management of Students With Intellectual Disabilities During the COVID-19 Outbreak in Japan: A Study Based on Interviews With Teachers (Journal of Intellectual Disabilities 2022)
The Social Identity of Adolescent Students with Low Vision during Interschool Interactions with Sighted Students: Voice and Symbolic Interaction (Journal of Special Education Research Volume 7 Issue 2 p. 89-100 2019)