- Educational reform in contemporary Japan
- Self in Japan
- History education in Japan (and England)
- Primary education in Japan (especially the teaching of literature and mathematics)
- Politics and education in Japan
- Informal education (especially school clubs)
- History of education, childhood and youth in Japan
My books Schooling Selves and Primary School in Japan examine educational reform policies and their implementation in the classrooms of lower secondary and primary schools respectively , exploring the relationship of reform policies and classroom practices to configurations of selfhood in Japan. Primary School in Japan argues that teaching practices in literature and maths help to create classrooms that are 'communities of inquiry'. The study also examines gender in Japanese primary education. I have also explored educational reform policies and their results in journal articles and a book chapter.
I am interested not only in how Japanese children are socialized inside the classroom, but also outside it, particularly in the school clubs that make up a very intense part of the junior high and high school experience, and this resulted in a 2004 article.
Other research interests are the connected subjects of history education, and education and politics. I have published two articles and a book chapter on history teaching in Japan. Two of these compare curriculum, textbooks, and practices in Japan and England, focusing especially on how the two countries teach (or don't teach) about their imperial pasts. I have also published an article and a book chapter on the relationship between politics and education in Japan, the first of which focuses on controversies over the use of the Japanese flag and anthem in schools.
Since 2011, I have been carrying out oral history interview research on memories of childhood, education and youth in Japan before 1945. This forms part of the research project 'Remembering and Recording Childhood, Education, and Youth in Imperial Japan 1925-1945', funded by the AHRC (ref. no: AH/J004618/1) from August 2012 to December 2015, for which I am the Principal Investigator, with Dr Aaron Moore (History, Manchester) as Co-Investigator. Earlier interviews in 2011 were funded by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Invited Research Fellowship at Kyoto University. This research has resulted in two special journal issues to date, in Japan Forum and Japanese Studies.
My latest research is on mathematics education in Japan for children in the first two years of elementary school, and during the preschool years. This involved seven months of fieldwork in Japan in 2018.