Two researchers, an American and Japanese collaborated on a qualitative project describing Japanese composition instruction in elementary school. We highlight educators from three schools in Japan, framing their pedagogical beliefs with Ivanic's (2004) discourses of teaching writing. These include discourses of skills, creativity, process, genre, sociopolitical and social practices. We extend this work, taking into account the unique history and tradition of Japanese education. We draw upon interviews, observations, artifacts, lesson plans, curriculum guides, and historical accounts in our analysis. Our main findings involve tensions between honoring traditional practices and meeting 21stcentury literacy demands. For example, memorizing classical poetry can seem incompatible with logical essay writing, yet both activities occur in language arts classes. We present case studies including one teacher who successfully balances traditional practices with the development of creativity and skill in young writers. We show how this teacher implements writing pedagogy integrating the discourses of teaching writing. The Japanese are not alone in their desire to retain cultural tradition as they move forward in a global society. This study has the potential to impact teaching practice and policy in Asia and the west as educators around the globe grapple with changes in information distribution and technological transformation. Our study contributes to an understanding of how these changes impact the purposes and processes of composition instruction.
Lucy Spence, University of South Carolina, United States
Yuriko Kite, Kansai University, Japan
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