The Japanese Preschool's Pedagogy of Peripheral Participation

Akiko Hayashi, Joseph Tobin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines Japanese teachers' beliefs about children's peripheral participation in emotional interactions in the classroom, and especially in fights. The article is based on a reanalysis of scenes of fighting in Japanese preschools from Tobin and colleagues' 2009 book and video, Preschool in Three Cultures Revisited. The reanalysis shifts the focus of attention from the protagonists in the fights, who occupy the center of the video frames, to the children on the margins. Japanese teachers have an emic cultural vocabulary for conceptualizing such peripheral participation, including the terms gyarari (gallery), gaiya (outfielders), seken (the generalized audience), and mawari no ko (the children around). Our analysis suggests that Japanese preschool teachers believe that in responding to children's fights their goal should be to give not only the protagonists but the class as a whole opportunities to experience emotions and to cultivate a sense of collective responsibility for events in their classroom community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-164
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Gyarari
  • Japan
  • Peripheral participation
  • Preschool
  • Seken

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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