Seishin and Power: The Historical and Sociocultural Influences on Rugby Coach Pedagogy in Japanese and New Zealand Secondary Schools
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The literature indicates that the values of, and justification for, rugby participation in Japan and New Zealand share many similarities including the development of young males’ character. Aside from a small number of studies, there appears to be a scarcity of research concerning the historical and sociocultural influences on pedagogies in Japanese high school rugby, and a similar sentiment could be made regarding New Zealand secondary school rugby contexts. Accordingly, the question guiding this research asked: What are the historical and sociocultural influences on pedagogical approaches in rugby from the perspectives of secondary school coaches and players in Japan and New Zealand? Conversations with four Japanese coaches and their players, five New Zealand coaches and their players, and researcher experiences as a bilingual athlete and coach were the main sources of data. A hermeneutic methodology, which seeks to understand and interpret, rather than explain and verify, was used in analysis. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory acts as a complimentary theoretical framework from which to make hermeneutic interpretations of the conversations with participants from each context. The mutual influences of historical, social, cultural, and individual factors on learning, development and a person’s vantage point (perspective) are underscored. Analysis utilised the whole-part-whole process of the hermeneutic circle, and revealed that the Japanese data highlighted the sociocultural influence of seishin ideology as an underpinning part of coaching practices. In a (bukatsudō) setting that often requires players to attend training up to six or seven days per week, it was suggested that the seishin ideology – aimed at the kitae (forging) of players’ kokoro (mind/spirit) and bodies – reinforced the encouragement of varying kinds of kimochi (feeling/attitude/vitality); and the objective of ningen keisei (character development or human cultivation). Findings were considered in light of Yuasa’s (1987) idea of Eastern understandings of harsh corporeal practices as a means to cultivate an achieved unity of body and mind. Further, the historical influence of budō (the Martial Arts) was also considered (Inoue, 1997). Pedagogy in Japan was characterized as coach centred and was framed as a Bushidō coach approach (Miller, 2011). Interpretation of New Zealand texts revealed a focus on developing correct technique and skills, maintaining order in the session, and the perceived importance of position as a teacher. Through recursive analysis using the hermeneutic circle, discussion of these findings focused on the use of control, power, and discipline in learning environments. Interpretations drew on Mangan’s (1981) and Phillips’ (1996) suggestion of rugby as a ‘soldier making’ pursuit; and Foucault’s (1977) and Kirk’s (1997) notion of the ‘schooled body’ in which to understand the historical and socio-cultural influences in the New Zealand context. Alignment of Japanese coaches’ approaches with that of the Bushido coach (Miller, 2011) and the emphasis placed on maintaining control by New Zealand coaches was contrasted by data which indicated that attempts at player-centred pedagogies were made by the Japanese and New Zealand coaches. However, interpretations made from analysis of both coach and player data indicated that coach-centred pedagogies were still dominant in each context. The absence of reference to the possible educative or character developing possibilities of participation in rugby was revealed in the New Zealand data, despite a similar line of conversation in Japan. Discussion questioned whether this noteworthy finding indicated that the educative intent of rugby has either shifted, or, perhaps, become so ingrained that it operates at an implicit level in New Zealand. Notwithstanding, if indeed educative intentions were implicit and inherent in the New Zealand secondary school rugby context, what were the implications of leaving these objectives unarticulated? Further, what is the role of rugby in schools, if no clear educative intent is evident? These questions offer important direction for future research.