The mentoring process and Lesson Study: are they compatible?

  • John Elliott University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ, UK


This paper explores the implications of Dewey’s laboratory model of learning to teach for the role of the mentor, which has been traditionally associated with an apprenticeship model. Is mentoring at all compatible with a laboratory model in which student and experienced teachers improve their practice collaboratively through experimentation and research at the level of the classroom? Drawing on the work of Lawrence Stenhouse and his idea of the ‘teacher as a researcher’ the author claims that there is room for a ‘knowledgeable other’ in the laboratory model, in the form of a curriculum expert who enables teachers to both translate theory into practice, in a manner that is not a matter of straightforward implementation, but tests and reconstructs the theory in the process. In this respect the author looks at Japanese Lesson Study as a form of teacher collaborative research and the role of the ‘knowledgeable other’ in conducting Kyouzai kenkyuu (curriculum analysis) with groups of teachers in relation to their lesson planning. The paper concludes by citing a case study of a theoretically informed Lesson Study in which practice and theory are developed in parallel to each other and locating a role for the mentor as a ‘knowledgeable other’ in this context.