SURF

Bryan Joseph Welch

Practice Makes Perfect: The Pedagogy of Apprenticeship in Japanese Martial Arts Communities

After the Meiji Restoration opened Japan to the West in 1868, many of the traditional Japanese martial disciplines (budo) were reinvented, incorporating modern Western concepts of mass education and competitive sport. However, some disciplines resisted these reforms in an attempt to preserve their traditional method of individualized apprenticeship. Through participant observation at a large gymnasium in Tokyo, I will explore school structure, pedagogy, and power relationships between expert and novice within several budo communities. I will look for correlation between these elements and the degree to which each style has adopted aspects of Western pedagogy. I hope to create a map of the learning process within these learning communities as so to render them accessable as pedagogical models to educators outside of Japan.

Message to Sponsor

As an educator, I am fascinated by learning communities that exist outside of the factory model of education, in which the transmission of knowledge from expert to novice participant is intimate and unmediated by bureaucracy. The school Ill be visiting in Japan has maintained an unbroken lineage of teachers for over 450 years, and should be a fascinating place to observe apprenticeship-based learning that incorporates traditional and modern instructional techniques. In addition to the thrill of this journey, I look forward to the SURF program as an opportunity to engage in the give and take that occurs when translating your work to people from disparate disciplines.
  • Major: Interdisciplinary Studies Field
  • Mentor: Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, Education