20 SES 08, Identity through Stories: Benefits from self-performing
This research addresses collaborative play that adopts fantasy drama-making for non-dominant students, especially linguistically culturally diverse children. Japan has many transnational children who have roots in countries outside Japan. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan has continued a regular count of the number of “students with special need for Japanese teaching” since 2003. The last report in 2016 shows that 43,947 students from grade 1 to 12 in Japanese public schools fall in the condition. Recently it has become a hot topic that even children with Japanese nationality need special teaching of Japanese.
We should pay attention to the fact that all “students with special need for Japanese teaching” cannot have a chance of supplementary Japanese lessons. Thus, only 77 percent of such students took such lesson. In addition, only 33 percent of the students took the lesson which included a specific planned system to aid in learning Japanese. This poor education situation is related to budget shortfalls. Furthermore, schooling for students who are not Japanese nationals is not obligatory but an extra service in Japan. Therefore, to learn subjects and Japanese, they attend cram schools, which require a superfluous expensive fee. Alternatively, they attend free afterschool programs managed by local volunteers. Thus, this situation imposes excessive pressure on the students even afterschool-time. Many students cannot initiate intimate relationships with their peers even during break times in school because of their low Japanese proficiency and cultural barriers. Therefore, they want to have a free and willful chat with persons who know their circumstances well. However, volunteer teachers think that their primary duty is to teach school subjects and Japanese in order to make up for students’ learning deficits within a limited time period. This discrepancy between the students and the teachers increases the students’ frustration. Students who cannot participate in school activities as active agents are deprived of their sense of capability and their hope. Consequently, they might not be motivated to improve and develop themselves. Giroux insists that "educators need to approach learning not merely as the acquisition of knowledge but as the production of cultural practices that offer students a sense of identity, place, and hope" (Giroux, 1992, p. 205). This means that, besides subject knowledge, students need to find themselves and have their hopes.
Hope invites and foster an aspiration to learn. Newman and Fulani (2011) propose that development of children is necessary condition for their successful learning. How can linguistically culturally diverse children build their hopes? It is necessary for them to have a feeling of self-efficacy, connecting to others and self-esteem. For each individual, his or her fund of knowledge (Moll, Amati, Neff & Gonzalez, 1992) is based on everyday life experience. Thus, in order to enhance their possibility of development possibilities, their given resources should be “re-mediated” (Cole & Griffin, 1983). This experimental workshop focused on the participants’ assets and their imagination. It tried to enhance participants’ availability of their assets they had already acquired through previous experiences. Successful negotiation with others can make such students feel that they are valued and that they have specific assets. Thus, they might start to believe that they are intellectual beings in their familiar field. This research investigates what can be gained through creating fantasy drama for children with linguistically culturally diversity. It also investigates how the relationships between students and their teachers are transformed by the process of collaborative drama-creation.
The participants of this workshop consisted of three junior high school students who attended an afterschool activity every weekend, two of their teachers, two graduate students, two undergraduate students, and two university professors. The students were Japanese Brazilians. One professor facilitated the main script-writing activity, and the other professor led the ice-breaking session. All participants excluding the facilitator participated in the script-writing activity along with the children. While reading their created stories, they were allowed to pair up with any of other participants. The main script-writing session lasted about two hours. The workshop included two dialogue sessions and two photo-elicitation sessions. In the dialogue session, the facilitator asked the participants to complete incomplete dialogue. In photo-elicitation session, the facilitator displayed photos and asked them to write down what they could imagine about it. They created their scripts individually and then played them with the other participants for the audiences. All the participants provided agreements and permission for the workshop to be recorded with audio-visual devices and for the proceedings to be reported for academic purposes.
The junior high school students, their teachers, university graduates and undergraduates, whom they did not meet in a regular class, participated in the workshop. Three junior high students really enjoyed the creative work with others. Accidentally many of the expected students could not participate in the workshop. Then two teachers and four assistants of university students collaborated to create the stories as part of the ordinary participants. It seems that it is easier for children to create stories compared to teachers and assistant students. The adults found it difficult to create stories because it was not a task like the ones they had taught to children. Children often laughed when they created stories and provided the adults with ideas for story-creation; furthermore, they directed the voice and action while preparing the collaborative play based on their original written scenarios. The teachers were surprised by the high quality of the student’s works. One teacher stated that he was able to realize found his students’ intelligence after the workshop. The students also expressed surprise at their teachers’ stories and play. Explaining the intended meaning of their original stories to the other players helped them to deeply understand what the lines of the dialogue in the scenario meant. Through collaboration while enacting their stories, the children and the adult participants were able to develop a mutual understanding. Through these activities, children from linguistically culturally diverse backgrounds seemed to gain confident on themselves. Because of the symmetrical relationship developed during the workshop, the teachers were able to gain a new understanding of their students as partners of the play together. Children may feel that adult participants cannot play with them as children. Thus, a collaborative activity for fantasy story creation can be effective for transforming school-framed learning activities into authentic activities with the support of language learning.
Cole, M. and Griffin, P. (1983) A Socio-Historical Approach to Re-mediation. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, 5(4), 69-74． Giroux, H. A. (1992) Resisting difference: cultural studies and the discourse of critical pedagogy. In Grossberg, L. & Nelson, C. & Treichler, P. A. (Eds.), Cultural studies. New York: Routledge. Pp. 199-212. Leont’ev, A. N. (1965) Problems of the development of the psyche. Москва: Мысль. Moll, L., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & Gonzalez, N. (1992) Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory Into Practice, 31(2), 132–141. Newman, F. and Fulani, L. (2011) Solving the Education Crisis in America: A Special Report. LET’S PRETEND. All Star Project Inc. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (2016) “The survey of students with special need for Japanese coaching” since 2003. http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/houdou/29/06/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2017/06/21/1386753.pdf, Jan, 20,2019 access. Vygotsky, L. S. (1933/1966) Play and its role in the Mental Development of the Child. Voprosy psikhologii, No. 6. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) The mind of society. Harvard University Press.
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