This paper proposes a training program for teachers in charge of life environment studies (LES), including a discussion of the relevant particulars.
The development policy for the training program is as follows. The objective of training, in addition to fostering an understanding of the existence of alternative opinions and practices and encouraging reflection on the part of teachers themselves, is to promote the reconfiguration and exploration of how LES is viewed as a curricular subject. For this purpose, the substance of the training program has been set bearing in mind the following three points. The first deals with the opinions and practices of the teachers themselves as well as the plans and other materials developed by them. The second deals with research findings (e.g., academic articles) in the field of LES pedagogy. The third deals with excellent unit case studies and practice-oriented videos. Moreover, I will prepare multiple unit case studies with different unit configurations based on the common LES philosophy of “cultivating the foundations of self-reliance.” Training will be conducted with a focus on analysis and discussion of materials including the unit case studies and lesson videos.
Based on the above, I have developed an actual professional development (PD) program for LES. The program is ultimately a model, and its time allocation and contents will require changes depending on the needs and schedules of the participants. To enhance possibilities for critiquing the training program，it has been prepared in the format of a syllabus for use in the developmental study of social studies teaching.
The progression of the training is as follows. In the Introduction, after imparting the training objectives, participants study “Why Teach LES?” and “Relationships and Differences between LES and Related Subject Areas (Early Childhood Education, Integrated Learning, Science, and Social Studies).” In Stage 1，participants will gain an understanding of the existence of other options in the curriculum through the following process: cases study analyses of curriculums (year, unit, and lesson planning for LES), followed by plan development and by presentation and discussion. In Stage 2, participants will gain an understanding of the existence of other options in teaching through the following process: analysis of lesson videos, followed by teaching implementation (mock lessons) and by the presentation and discussion of recorded teaching implementations. The Wrap-Up will summarize the overall training program. In addition, participants will also be asked to conduct an evaluation of the training program itself.
This program, through a series of training exercises, is intended to facilitate the analysis and discussion of the essence of LES. We believe that this sort of curricular and pedagogical training is also required in the field of LES education.