A Conceptual Discussion of Lesson Study from a Micro-Political Perspective: Implications for Teacher Development and Pupil Learning

Apr. 15, 2013

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 31, (April, 2013), p. 87-95.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Lesson study has been implemented as a viable approach to support teachers’ professional development.
This article focuses on a micro-political discussion related to everyday stakeholder interactions that are endemic to the lesson study process.
The authors aim to investigate issues pertaining to power relations that exist between teachers and their students, teachers and their peers, and teachers and external consultants. Their approach is conceptual in nature; simultaneously, we present several detailed examples revealing key issues related to lesson study implementation in Asian countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia.


At the micro-level, the authors have discussed how these various educational stakeholders involved in implementing lesson study must regularly negotiate power imbalances that are real or perceived, as well as broader socio-cultural discourses that sometimes position individuals in either ascendant or deficient ways.
As such, they highlighted the relevance of a post-structural approach in conceptualizing how these power relations and constructed identities might influence the implementation of lesson study in emerging contexts.

Most importantly, the implementation of lesson study can challenge the status quo of teacher relationships previously made characterised by an avoidance of controversy and conflict as well as the mutual understanding of the sanctity of individual classrooms.
Acceptance of the social constructivist approach thus requires that teachers give up perceived positions of autonomy and power as well as material and symbolic resources.

In the process of executing lesson study within hierarchical discursive contexts sometimes linked with authoritarian cultures, influential senior teachers should be open to listening to and valuing the perspectives of those who seem to hold lower positions of power and more devalued identities.
Simultaneously, to promote a more inclusive and meaningful learning community underpinned by regular lesson observations, school leaders must attempt to move away from evaluative and disciplinary identities constituted by their practices of surveillance.

Finally, they propose that there is potential for both external consultants and teachers to overcome the dichotomous ‘observed versus observing’ nature of their working relationship; this relationship could be re-framed to minimise teacher resistance and support a more equitable distribution of power.
They also argue that those involved in deploying lesson study practice within certain emerging educational systems must undertake extensive reflection regarding the micro-political issues we have outlined.

Following on, they argue that the importation and use of lesson study in emerging contexts requires extensive processes of negotiation with local practitioners and school leaders who have particular ways of working that might not dovetail with lesson study’s original values or practices.
To conclude, the authors suggest that the micro-politics involved in the importation and implementation of lesson study reflects a complex professional learning endeavour that can be likened to opening a Pandora’s box.
They have demonstrated that a post-structural theoretical perspective can illuminate the complex nature of lesson study, in relation to key concepts of power, identity, and discourse that need to be reflected upon by practitioners, school leaders, and consultants alike.

Updated: Dec. 08, 2014