Kyoto University, Japan
My doctoral research focuses on the interrelation between comparative research and education policymaking, investigating the emergence and influence of the organisations and entrepreneurs promoting education policy solutions and services globally. One aspect of this research explores the central role of narrative in processes of advocacy, societal storylines, and the relevance of myths in contemporary modes of governance. I began to research the distinctive cultural and philosophical traditions of Japan, and their influence on contemporary society (and education). Based on conversations and collaborative research during this period, I am preparing a grant proposal for a comparative study with my academic host at Kyoto University. I planned and began writing a collaborative paper (under review) with my academic host, focusing on the promotion of PISA for Development, and specifically the activity of international organisations and commercial organisations in this process. I was able to collect data on the policy process in Japan, and recent rounds of reform, which has provided a useful basis for reflection on my analysis in other contexts. Though it was not the main focus, I was able to undertake some basic language training.
In brief, the insight I gained into Japanese society and thought while in Kyoto helped me identify and interrogate some of the assumptions I had previously viewed as unproblematic, or had not even considered. Meeting with other faculty members at Kyoto University and attending seminars provided me with a much richer experience than I had anticipated. Presenting my work at other universities and attending national conferences further extended my network, and opened several research opportunities beyond my doctoral studies. Less directly, spending time away from the IOE in London gave me space to reflect on my doctoral research, and my plans for the future.
The experience helped me nuance and develop the analysis and arguments in my thesis. More significantly, the insights and perspectives of my academic host and other faculty members helped me refine my future research plans, and opened up a series of possibilities I had not previously considered.