Acceptance and Transformation of English Educational Theory in Japan: On Student-Centered Education

  •  Teresa Kuwamura    


In Japan, various theories and methodologies of English education born in other counties have been practiced, but the result has left a lot to be desired. Still, each theory has its own sociocultural background. When theory goes beyond its culture and locality, it transforms by losing its originality and absorbing new elements from a different sociocultural background. The transformation sometimes happens due to other reasons such as misinterpretation, imprecise translation, etc. In Japan of today, technical terms of pedagogy, such as facilitator, empowerment, and contract, are popular in English education. Those terms were introduced by Carl Rogers, an American humanistic psychologist and educator who established an education theory, Student-Centered Education. Rogers’ technical terms as well as his educational theory are often misunderstood or not taken from the full content in Japan. In this essay, I present some examples of common misunderstanding and misuse of Student-Centered Education in Japan caused by scholars’ incomplete research, ignoring the difference of the subject such as student’s age, impact from Learner-Centered Education, and sociocultural background difference between the U.S. and Japan. It is natural that theory transforms when it reaches to a different environment. If an imported educational theory does not work as expected, it is important to consider the fact that theory may been changed. One needs to examine the reasons why it has deviated from its original principle and adjust the theory when applying it to the student.

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