The context of the Lesson Study project

Improvement of Mathematics education by Lesson Study focussed on students' educational needs

Teacher professional development with regard to educational innovations often fails when the focus is on the surface features of the innovation, rather

The Interconnected Model of (Teacher) Professional Growth (Clarke & Hollingsworth, 2002, p. 951)

Figure 4.1 The Interconnected Model of (Teacher) Professional Growth (Clarke & Hollingsworth, 2002, p. 951).

than on the underlying mechanism that will enable it to work (Fullan, 2007; McLaughlin & Mitra, 2001). For example, a focus on surface features of ‘reform mathematics’, such as hands-on activities and discussion, may prove a lethal substitute for attention to the underlying mechanism of developing students’ mathematical reasoning through problem solving (Spillane, 2000). According to Lewis, Perry, and Murata (2006), Lesson Study is used to focus on teacher professional development in authentic ecological class situations. The participating teachers not only prepare and refine their lesson plans, they strengthen three pathways to instructional improvement: teachers’ knowledge, teachers’ commitment and community, and learning resources (see Figure 4.2).

Agreeing with Lewis et al. (2006), this chapter emphasises that Lesson Study is important for improving mathematics education and teachers’ professional development aimed at students’ educational needs. Particularly:

How Lesson Study results in instructional improvement

Figure 4.2 How Lesson Study results in instructional improvement: two conjectures (Lewis et al. 2006, p. 5).

  • 1. The lesson will need to link up the students’ (mental) reality being meaningful.
  • 2. The student will have the opportunity to experiment searching for suitable solutions.
  • 3. Students’ problem-solving strategies will have to be validated in mathematics.
  • 4. Insight and conceptual understanding will have to be emphasised to reflect on the approach instead of the solution of problems.

This type of education underpins mathematical thinking which takes account for different educational and instructional needs of students. The individual’s capacity to think is developed and their capacity to solve problems in collaboration is stimulated. Taking into account the different educational and instructional needs of students is an educational ideal, though not without obstacles. It is an old social wish that education accepts and values students’ diverse educational needs. This ideal is observed in terms of differentiation, adaptation, response, suitable, and inclusive education (Meijer, Bruggink, & Goei, 2012). This fine-tuning requires another way of thinking: teachers focus on what is necessary to realise a positive teaching result instead of focussing on what a student lacks. This promotes change to an optimistic educational attitude in teaching that uses students’ differences positively (Croll & Moses, 2003).

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