Archives for posts with tag: PhD

Sensei, students and the spoken word: Learning and teaching in a Japanese koryū dōjō

Abstract

Nostalgia for ‘samurai’ pervades Japanese society in advertising, television and film, not least in portrayals of teaching and learning which parody the teacher-student training relationship. Such comedy sketches work because they are based on well-known stereotypes of martial arts master, student and the mysteries of the martial arts; all of which are familiar to a Japanese audience. The extent to which these characterisations reflect current learning and teaching practices remains unclear, particularly in the koryū bujutsu, which continue to play a role in contemporary society, despite being based on pre-modern foundations. Developing an awareness of the social aspects of interaction in the dōjō is key to understanding the impact of martial arts practices. This paper takes conventional representations from mainstream media as a starting point to examine current practices of learning and teaching in a koryū bujutsu, with a particular focus on the role of kuden (lit. ‘oral transmission’). The primary sources of data are participant observation and interviews carried out during fieldwork at a Japanese koryū dōjō. The research provides insights into how actual learning and teaching compares with the esoteric and archaic forms of knowledge transmission frequently portrayed in the Japanese media.

Still

Still from Ken no shugyo comedy sketch. Click on the image for video.

Here is the abstract for a paper I presented at the Student Education Conference and Digital Festival, “Evidencing Excellence” in at the University of Leeds, 8 January 2016.

“Shut up and write!” Making academic writing social

Abstract
Writing is an area with which many students (and academics!) struggle, particularly as it is inherently a solitary practice. “Shut up and Write!” (“SU&W!”) sessions make academic writing social. The format which has recently become popular with researchers (Mewburn et al, 2014) can also be a powerful tool when shared with taught students. “SU&W!” was a departure for Skills@Library with a stronger experiential emphasis than traditional workshops can allow. This session will address how and why “SU&W!” helps students tackle procrastination and lack of focus. Skills@Library first trialled “SU&W!” for taught students as a one-off experiment. Feedback was extremely positive, so in summer 2015, ten “SU&W!” were offered, targeting primarily Masters students. This session uses personal reflections on the “SU&W!” process and analysis of student comments. “SU&W!” provides structured and focussed time with clear goals, providing students with immediate feedback on their writing process. Peer pressure prevents distraction; peer support helps with motivation and encourages student-to-student exchange of strategies for becoming better writers. Sessions are relatively simple to run and can act as a catalyst for students to set up their own groups.
By the end of this session, participants will have learned how and why “SU&W!” can be a powerful tool for reducing student isolation and developing excellent writing practices; and will have the tools to set-up sessions within their own context.

Link to Evidencing Excellence theme
“Shut up and write!” develops self-awareness in managing academic writing through modelling best practices. The session will also highlight applications and digital resources which can be used to support the writing process, both face-to-face and online.

How do you evidence excellence in use of this initiative and/or technology?
“SU&W!” sessions work with undergraduates, taught postgraduate and research students. They fit well with peer support initiatives; study skills sessions taught within modules as well as central provision. Once students have experienced the format they are encouraged to run groups themselves. Similar sessions could target other study skills, such as “Shut up and Read/Revise!”.
“SU&W!” may also be particularly appropriate for supporting part-time and distance students, using Skype.

Ways in which content or technology could be used in other disciplines / services
The session will include the student voice through examples of feedback on “Shut up and write!” sessions, including how it has informed/improved their writing practices.

Here is the hand out as used in sessions with students: Shut up and write2.

 

 

HUMS Writing Group Poster

I had my panel last week and have a serious amount of writing to do over the next few months. The Shut up and Write! sessions we’ve been holding face to face and online have been extremely motivating, and a couple of people have made it through to submission, so completion is possible! I’m planning sessions on campus on 21st October, 4th and 18th November. Based on previous experience, things work best if:

  • we think beforehand about what we want to work on and do the reading/prep before we come
  • phones and internet are turned off during writing periods
  • there’s a good supply of drinks and snacks!

We’ll be in SALC for the first one and there are coffee making facilities on the first floor (bring your own mug), I will bring milk and possibly snacks. The room is booked for three hours in total, with (nearly) two hours dedicated to focussed writing time. This is the schedule we’ve used:

  • 20 mins social time: intros, writing goals for the day, setting up (and biscuits)
  • 25 mins writing
  • 5 mins silent break, no talking in the room
  • 25 mins writing
  • 20 mins social break, coffee (and biscuits)
  • 25 mins writing
  • 5 mins silent break, no talking in the room
  • 25 mins writing
  • 20 mins social time; follow-up, feedback, discussion (and more biscuits…)

If you are going to be late, the etiquette is that it’s OK to arrive up to 15 minutes into the pre-writing social time. This leaves 5 minutes before writing starts for you to get set up (and you’ll have to be quick!). We discussed at earlier sessions about people who could only commit to half the time (or need to leave early) and decided that was OK, but joining or leaving in the social time/breaks at the beginning, middle or end of the whole session causes least disruption. Of course, this is just the model we’ve used in the past, it’s all open to renegotiation at the start of each session. All welcome!

For more info about how this started: https://lucubrat.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/shut-up-and-write

And how the first session went: http://sucorcoran.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/shut-up-and-write

Being forced to articulate writing goals for the session and having the ‘tap, tip, tap’ of the keyboard or ‘scratch, scritch, scratch’ of a pencil drives the writing forward. We share writing tips and challenges, but best of all, we get to celebrate each others achievements, however small. Progress is progress!

For info on this and future sessions, find HUMS Writing Group on facebook here.

Download a .pdf version of the poster with embedded links here: HUMS Writing Group (best for sharing via email).

Here’s the abstract and poster I presented at the Japan in our Futures one day conference in Sheffield on 5 April, 2013.

Lessons in survival: The community of practice in a Japanese martial art

The classical Japanese martial tradition of Takeuchi-ryu Bitchuden Kobudo has an unbroken line of transmission dating from 1532 and as such could be seen to be a master of survival. Rooted in the past, yet located firmly in the present where it thrives through its role in the lives of its members, like any traditional pursuit it faces challenges if it is to continue into the future.

Using the theoretical framework of Communities of Practice, this poster examines how the group’s approach to teaching and learning enables the communication of an established body of knowledge, yet is flexible enough to deal with challenges such as lifestyle changes, economic fluctuations and the increasing involvement of non-Japanese practitioners. The research takes an ethnographic approach, analysing data gained through participant observation at the main dôjô in Kyoto. What practitioners learn from their experiences; the impact it has on their lives, identities and conceptions of self; and how traditional martial arts relate to contemporary life and education in Japan are the subject of my work.

This poster focuses on providing insights into how and why the group endures, which may have lessons for ways in which other groups could ensure their own sustainability into the future.

Seabourne_JapanInOurFutures_Poster_FINAL