Mentoring novice teachers in Japanese schools

Tadashi Asada*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to communicate how Japanese culture impacts upon mentoring in schools in Japan and to report on a study of mentor and novice teacher dialogue. The study is located within the context of explanations of dialogue, practical knowledge and mentoring as collaborative enquiry. It concludes that the time spent by novice teachers in Japanese schools is too short for mentoring to move beyond an apprenticeship model. Design/methodology/approachIn this small study conducted between June 2006 and February 2007, the dialogues between a female novice teacher and a male mentor, who had 27 years’ teaching experience, were analyzed on three occasions. According to the mentoring analysis system developed by the author and his colleagues, all discussion was recorded between the mentor and the mentee about the mentee's teaching using a digital recorder and a video camera. A transcript was made from both recordings, then morphological analysis used (a kind of text analysis) for the transcript, and nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs were identified in transcripts. FindingsIn total, 46 teaching scenarios were analyzed, where the mentor was offering his comments about a total of three recorded lessons by the mentee. Patterns of linguistic interaction between the mentor and mentee during dialogues were noted down and attempts made to identify a dialectical process (of thesis, antithesis and synthesis). Research limitations/implicationsThe study undertaken took place over one year in one elementary school in Japan. The practice of mentoring is not widespread in schools and can usefully be extended. Practical implicationsFor teachers to become collaborative enquirers, undertaking collaborative research focused on developing teachers’ practical knowledge, the period of initial teacher development for novice teachers could usefully be extended in schools in Japan. Social implicationsThe impact of culture and, in particular, in-group (uchi) and out-group (soto) culture in schools in Japan needs to be understood so that novice teachers can be accepted as part of the school's in-group. Originality/valueThe paper describes a unique study into the impact of culture in Japanese schools and, in particular, into the impact of uchi (in-group) and soto (out-group) traditions that reinforce the apprenticeship model of teachers’ induction into the profession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-65
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar 25


  • Dialogue
  • Japan
  • Mentoring
  • Mentoring culture
  • National cultures
  • Primary schools
  • Teacher development
  • Teachers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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