Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Open Dialogue in teacher education in Japan (Asia TEFL 2017 in Indonesia)

Here are the slides and the handout that I'm going to use at the Asia TEFL 2017 conference in Indonesia.

My presentation is from 13:45 to 14:15 on Saturday, July 15 at Pemandengan 1, Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel.

I regret that, because of the time limitation in this oral presentation, I cannot really compare Open Dialogue and Exploratory Practice or discuss much about complexity (Luhmann 2012, 2013) and pluratity (Arendt 1998), as I promised in the abstract below.


Open Dialogue in teacher education in Japan

Yosuke YANASE,
Hiroshima University


Why Open Dialogue?
>Need to regain agency against the repressive culture of teacher education in Japan.

What is Open Dialogue?
>A psychotherapeutic approach: Family therapy, Bakhtin and postmodernism in the background
>Open: No important decision is made outside the dialogic community
>Dialogue: Verbalization of the problem, which is accepted and responded to by other members
>The clients regain agency by speaking with their authentic emotions, voices and words, and being reasonably heard and responded to by other members.

Five important features of Open Dialogue
1 Tolerance of uncertainty with no single authority: No one knows the truth in a complex situation.
2 Dialogism between equal persons with different backgrounds: We need different perspectives
3 Polyphony and joint understanding:  All voices must be heard to complement each other
4 Emotional attunement from authentic voices:  The sense of acceptance is recognized through emotions
5 Agency of every participant: Everyone has a right to adapt and invent his or her own way in a new situation.

Research Question
Does Open Dialogue develop agency in teacher education in Japan?
‘Open Dialogue’: an adapted one for the purpose of teacher education
‘Agency’: the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power


Time and Place
>A teacher education course of eight sessions at a municipal education center in Japan from June 2016 to February 2017.
>However, Open Dialogue was only implicitly introduced and implemented. The main purpose of the course was the enhancement of students’ motivation.

>Eleven teachers of either an elementary or junior high school with different school subject specialty. The participation was not voluntary. We focus on an elementary school teacher, ET1, in this presentation.
ET1: Not confident about her teaching. Not perfectly well psychologically. Had a trauma as a young teacher (as it turned out later).
>Two teaching advisers in charge, including TA2, who we focus on, and a few other teaching advisers.
TA2: Concerned about the suppressive culture of teacher education. Interested in OD, but was not sure if it can be successfully implemented in the education center.
>Supervisor of the course (the current presenter), Sv.

Data in this presentation
>Personal Email correspondences (voluntary): (i) between TA2 and Sv, (ii) between ET1 and Sv.
>Video recording of interview between TA2 and ET1.
ç No negative effects of OD were observed in other members.
ç The original Japanese utterances were translated and edited by the current presenter.


From personal Email correspondences

Between Sv and TA2
>Participants and teaching advisers accepted OD in a positive way.
>The success of OD was manifest in their bodily expressions.
>The two teaching advisers in chief felt uneasy about this success because it was so unconventional.
>The two teaching advisers realized the power and impact of what they had been asking participants to do.
>TA2 thought that teacher educator themselves must be observed and analyzed.

Between Sv and ET1
> A desire to say, be heard, understood and accepted grew from a comfortable sense of safety.
>Self-exposure becomes possible when each other's vulnerability is respected.
>ET1’s unsolicited story-telling of her trauma began as the OD relationship developed.
>Telling her own traumatic experience was a necessary step to go forward
>ET1 likes the culture of OD but wonders if it can be introduced in ordinary schools in Japan.

From interview video between TA2 and ET1
>In teacher education in Japan, teaching advisers often give their own advice before the teacher finishes his or her own story.
>Teaching advisers should endure awkward silence while the teacher is straggling with thoughts and words.
>Teaching advisers can "advise" in the form of clarification questions.
>Teacher education is a co-construction between the teacher and the teaching adviser.


1 Uncertainty that OD brings about worries conventional teacher educators but it is the source of creativity.

2 In terms of dialogism, teacher educators must be educated in the style of OD.

3 Polyphony can be developed with a good sense of safety in a comfortable culture.

4 The success of OD can be felt intuitively from the emotional attunement from authentic voices

5 Teachers agency can develop when teacher educators exert their agency in the style of OD

Seikkula J & Olson ME. (2003) The Open Dialogue Approach to Acute Psychosis: Its Poetics and Micropolitics. Family Process, 42(3):403-18.

Seikkula J and Trimble D. (2005) Healing elements of therapeutic conversation: dialogue as an embodiment of love. Family Process, 44(4):461-75.


ABSTRACT (as submitted to Asia TEFL)
Although the notion of reflective practice has established an undisputed recognition in teacher education for long now, many teachers still find it difficult to reflect, that is, to have a good dialogue with themselves or with their mentors. Part of the reason lies in our insufficient theoretical understanding of dialogue; we are not, in fact, exactly able to distinguish dialogue from (reciprocal) monologue, (analytical) discussion or (antagonistic) debate. This presentation reports the progress of a one-year project of incumbent teacher education for 10 primary or secondary public school teachers in Hiroshima, Japan. In this project, dialogue is theoretically understood in the general conceptual framework offered by a renowned physicist-philosopher, Bohm (1996), in which orientation for 'truth' and 'coherence' play an important part. In practice, dialogue is specifically promoted in a way inspired by the 'Open Dialogue' approach in the field of psychiatric care (Seikkula and Olson 2003, Seikkula and Trimble 2005). Despite the differences among mentors and teachers of different school subjects (including English, of course), all participants as equals are encouraged to talk polyphonically, with no obligation to reach a consensus or conclusion. This project involves radical changes in the concept of teacher education itself, and is expected to contribute to a better understanding of Exploratory Practice, whose similarities and differences with this Open Dialogue approach should be carefully examined. Epistemological discussion in terms of complexity (Luhmann 2012, 2013) and plurality (Arendt 1998) is also presented to deepen our understanding of practice in social contexts.

teacher education, reflective practice, dialogue

Yosuke Yanase is professor at Graduate School of Education, Hiroshima University in Japan. He radically asks questions about fundamental concepts of language teaching in the spirit of “there is nothing so practical as a good theory,” although he is quite aware that “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

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