Lesson Study in a Performative Culture

  • Julian Williams
  • Julie Ryan
  • Siân Morgan
Part of the Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education book series (PROD, volume 10)


Lesson study originated in Japan and is now becoming attractive worldwide as a research-based approach to developing teaching in the workplace. Like research, it is understood to be collectively constructed, but it is grounded in the practice, analysis and reflection of groups of teachers focused on real lessons collectively observed and analysed. We report two case studies of our lesson study work with primary and secondary teachers in England. The practice of lesson study is evolving as it disseminates globally, and the aim of this paper is to describe and analyse how lesson study can develop in a culture of performativity, where teacher professional learning in England is dominated by graded lesson observations and scrutinised in the light of national league tables. We theorise this performativity in social terms using the concept of commodification of knowledge and the use and exchange value of education. Our experience suggests that lesson study can pose an additional threat to teachers, but that they can find value in the professional learning derived from an appropriately evolved lesson study process in the workplace when that practice is able to focus on collaboration and make space free of competition and teacher-performance focused judgments. We discuss the potential for the profession to make such spaces for teaching to develop, and argue that resources from the wider community are essential for helping schools to build such spaces.


Lesson Study League Table Head Teacher Cultural Script Teacher Professional Learning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  3. 3.School of EducationThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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