Q: What initiatives have you been working on recently?
A: Within the Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum, the most recent thing is creating undergraduate minors in bilingual education (BE) and English as a second language (ESL). We did this because non-native English speakers in the US are increasing dramatically and there aren’t enough teachers with proper training or credentials to meet the linguistic, academic and sociocultural needs of these students and their families. Moreover, teacher candidates who pursue these minors can simultaneously obtain Illinois endorsements in teaching bilingual education and/or English as a second language, which will increase their job marketability. In addition, I continue to work with public and private schools in Chicago and New York to educate teachers and write curriculum in language education. Also, I was recently invited by the Illinois State Board of Education’s Division of English Language Learning to meet and provide feedback on its proposed criteria for the state’s new legislation (Public Act 98-0560) to establish a Seal of Biliteracy Program for public high school graduates. Illinois became the third state in our nation to adopt the Seal of Biliteracy, which will be designated on the diploma and transcripts of eligible students.
Q: What research are you currently engaged in?
A: My research examines soka, or “value-creating,” education first theorized by Japanese elementary schoolteacher and principal, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), and expanded in application by Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928). In 1930, in response to Japan’s militarized education system, Makiguchi argued that the aim and goal of education should align with the aim and goal of life, namely happiness, and that genuine happiness is cultivated through value creation. He believed that schools should educate children to be contributive citizens—rather than subjects of the state—who create value from positive and negative experiences. Ikeda applied Makiguchi’s theory of value-creating pedagogy in founding a network of 14 Soka schools, which includes six kindergartens, three elementary schools, two secondary schools, a women’s college and two universities in seven countries across Asia and the Americas. In addition, thousands of teachers worldwide have implemented value-creating education in their own curriculum and instruction. My research involves translating into English Makiguchi’s and Ikeda’s educational writings and conducting qualitative research at various Soka schools, including to date in Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the U.S. I have been invited to give talks on Makiguchi’s and Ikeda’s educational philosophies in countries such as China, Cyprus and Japan and at such schools as UCLA, MIT and Lesley College. In 2013, I published Daisaku Ikeda, Language and Education (2013 Routledge) and (with Andrew Gebert) Makiguchi Tsunesaburo (1871-1944): Educational Philosophy in Context (2013 Routledge).
Q: How does your research inform your teaching?
A: In my own way, I attempt to be a value-creative educator, seeking to develop students’ and my own full humanity through our classroom interactions and discussions on course material. In terms of curriculum, I currently teach three classes on Makiguchi’s and Ikeda’s educational philosophies in both the Bilingual-Bicultural Education and Curriculum Studies Programs. DePaul University is the first to offer multiple undergraduate, master’s and doctoral courses focused on Makiguchi’s and Ikeda’s educational philosophies. A number of master’s and doctoral candidates from a variety of countries have chosen DePaul specifically because we offer these courses. In addition, various American and Japanese publications have highlighted DePaul because we offer these courses. For example Todai, a leading Japanese magazine about contemporary education, interviewed me about these courses and my research in its March 2014 issue.