Innovating with the ‘The Collaborative Social’ in Japan

  • Tim Murphey
Part of the New Language Learning and Teaching Environments book series (NLLTE)


This chapter is a very personal and subjective overview of some potentially harmful aspects of society and education in Japan. Social psychology has warned us for many years about the danger of increasing isolation and individualization (III) along with reactive affiliations (e.g. Nazism) just for the sake of belonging to something. Fromm wrote in his 1941 book Escape from Freedom, “to feel completely alone and isolated leads to mental disintegration just as physical starvation leads to death” (p. 17). More recently, biology (Wilson, 1975/2000) and neuroscience (Lieberman, 2013; Cosolino, 2013; Sapolsky, 2018) have stressed and exposed our social needs. Hari’s recent book Lost Connections (2018) has exposed the billion-dollar antidepressant industry as mostly unnecessary when we learn how to socially reconnect with others and our core values. And most recently the UK has created a minister for loneliness position in their government (BBC, 2018) to fight the ill effects of III. Schools it would seem are places where students can go to become more social, but while we teach students in groups we evaluate and score them individually and the amount of social interactions in many classrooms does not often add to a sense of school belonging (Dörnyei & Murphey, 2003; Murphey et al., 2010). This chapter looks at ways to innovate and activate “the collaborative social” in general and during assessments in particular so that students can become more socially adept at bonding and belonging with others. It is unapologetically a blend of several articles and book chapters beginning 30 years ago with my student-made tests (Murphey, 1989). In the introduction below I also reflectively note autobiographically seven sources of innovative practices that I fortunately encountered that I think will tell us how to seed many future innovations in education in Japan. The introduction is followed by three waves of activity around innovating testing.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Murphey
    • 1
  1. 1.Kanda University of International StudiesChibaJapan

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