Local Implementation of International Baccalaureate in the Japanese Secondary School System: How Good Practice Is Positively Impacting Education Provision

Local Implementation of International Baccalaureate in the Japanese Secondary School System: How Good Practice Is Positively Impacting Education Provision

David Gregory Coulson (Ritsumeikan University, Japan), Shammi Datta (Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan) and Mai Sugawara (Ritsumeikan University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5846-0.ch003

Abstract

Japan is moving from a traditional focus on prescriptive English education towards a more forward-looking hybrid model, melding the influences of the world-class international baccalaureate (IB) curriculum into the existing Japanese educational model. In this chapter, the authors review the background and describe developments that are framing the debate regarding secondary school reform. Specifically, they investigate how IB in Japan is shaping new practices, which will be shown to have duals aims. The first is to nurture the higher-order reasoning abilities of students, in addition to analytical research and presentation skills. The second is to promote stronger English second-language acquisition. The authors also explore in what ways the introduction of IB is engendering positive changes to the English curriculum in the non-IB sector and in the university sector. This is an issue that is being keenly observed by both policymakers, educators, and the international baccalaureate organization.
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Background To International Baccalaureate

The IB system was founded in 1968, and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 2,700 schools in 138 countries now offer this curriculum (Wilkinson & Hayden, 2010). The IB curriculum consists of the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the IBDP, and the Career-related Programme (CP) curriculum outline. The IBDP requires completion of a course of study in two languages. Other components are Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences and Mathematics, as well as a sixth course taken either as a second choice from one of the former or from a group of Arts subjects. Two further requirements are the completion of a 4,000-word Extended Essay and a course in the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) in which students explore the nature of knowledge across disciplines.

The overall aim of the curriculum is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, internationally-minded and caring young people who can help create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Hinrichs (2002) enumerates the benefits of the IB curriculum as including:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Motivation: Motivation is an individual’s positive attitude towards a studied language as evidenced by his or her willingness to use the L2 for communication, or to achieve personal goals.

Holistic Learning: Learning with the aim of helping students situate their studies in their communities in order that they actively and compassionately engage in, and understand, their locality.

Global Awareness: Global awareness is comprised of curiosity about, and empathy for, issues such as race, religion, and identity, and challenges such as poverty, health, and climate change.

IB (International Baccalaureate): IB is a rigorous curriculum from primary to pre-university education, promoting reflective learning with ideals of compassion and empathy.

Content and Language-Integrated Learning (CLIL): The practice of teaching academic content in another language while focusing on the linguistic forms of that language.

IBDP: The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is an educational program that acts as an entry qualification for higher-level studies in many universities around the world.

Translanguaging: The practice of multilingual individuals making use of all their linguistic knowledge in education, for example, to achieve their goals.

Theory of Knowledge (TOK): Theory of knowledge is a component of IB. It aims to develop students’ awareness of knowledge by examining the truth and validity of propositions.

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