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Creating cross-cultural discourses: Korean and Japanese pre-service teachers "Make a Better Hiroshima Textbook"

This research aims at clarifying what Korean and Japanese pre-service social studies teachers learned during a project where they deconstructed their own nation’s discourse regarding the bombing of Hiroshima by communicating with students in the other country.

An individual nation interprets social and historical phenomena within its national context (Carretero, Asensio, & Rodríguez-Moneo, 2011). However, those national discourses are not always valid in other nations, which can exacerbate international conflict. Given that in the present globalized world, students cannot avoid meeting others who have different discourses, social studies teachers are obligated to prepare them as tolerant and democratic citizens who pursue associated living with others. Currently, there is not enough discussion on how teacher educators help pre-service teachers to understand why these national differences emerge and to acquire abilities to explore them in their classrooms (McAllister & Irvine, 2000).

To confront this issue, the presenters designed the project “Let's Make a Better Hiroshima Textbook” and implemented it in two social studies method courses at K university in Korea and J university in Japan. The 36 pre-service teacher participants analyzed and criticized both nations’ Hiroshima discourses and then communicated with each other to create their own version of a Hiroshima textbook. To examine what the pre-service teachers learned through this process, we asked them to write an essay about their learning and interviewed them about the composition. The presenters individually coded this data using techniques from grounded theory and then crosschecked the results. The analysis indicated that at the end of the project the pre-service teachers better understood the value of a textbook as a medium of communication, the constructed nature of historical writing, and the importance of multiple perspectives. The teachers reinvented the bombing of Hiroshima as an occasion to reconcile differences among people who have competing discourses surrounding WWII.