4.Prof. Kimiyo Hirai -Part2



In ‘Conahana-san of the Month’, we introduce roll-models as researcher, and also experiences of senior female researchers who have been successfully managed their work-life balance between research/work and life events such as childbirth, child care and family care.

◎Prof. Kimiyo Hirai

<Major field>
Pedagogy, Business Administration

Advanced Studies on Transforming Educational Practice of Master of Education’s Course, Graduate School of Education


In the last edition, we heard about what she studied and looked at rare old materials.  She has a full smile on her face when talking about her study. By the way, she said ‘I didn’t enjoy studying at all when I was in undergraduate’.  Let’s ask what she means…



 ●Stimulation on intellectual curiosity is truly enjoyable.  I enjoyed classes in under graduate.

Well, actually I didn’t enjoy studying at all when I was in undergraduate.


Well, I mean…(lol)
I was sort of burnt out after all the hard work to pass the entrance exam and could not very well commit to study at university.  I was a Russian language major in the Faculty of Foreign Language.  But I didn’t get to master Russian language very well after all and had no interest in education related classes either.  Studying itself was no fun.

●Okay (a bit panicked)… would you tell me how you reached current career after that?

I just happened to encounter a very good teacher of English teaching and got an idea to become an English teacher. I gained a license as I finished its requirement in the Foreign Language department, and became an English teacher of junior high school.

●I had no idea that you had been teaching at a junior high school!

Yes, I was teaching about 6 years.  And I didn’t know until I actually did it that having only English teaching skills is not good enough for being junior-high-school teacher.

Language ability is a must as English teacher of course.  Besides, you need other skills to manage entire teaching activity like counseling and class management.  Without those skills, a teacher cannot maintain discipline in the classroom; neither stop the breakdown and pull it back together nor take care of students.  And things turned out to be catastrophic, actually.

●Now I see what you mean.  My understanding was also that only teaching skill was good enough to work as teacher.

That was my misunderstanding… so I decided to enter graduate school to study again.  I met many socially experienced students who study on top of their work to brush up their skills in that graduate school such as in-service teacher and psychological counselor.
At that time, I was planning to go back to the teaching job.  I wanted to learn the skills I was missing and looking for answers to my own questions such as why students go rough, how to properly evaluate and assess and so on.
Having completed the master’s degree, I couldn’t feel ready to go back to school yet, then, made my mind go on to the doctor’s course.  At the same time, I also was thinking of studying abroad to reinforce my language skills.


<Ms. Hirai is a co-author of a book titled “Kyoshi-no-Joken” (which means “Requirements to be a teacher”) which was published in a translated edition as well. >

●That’s how you got into research activity and that made you a researcher.

That’s right…but there are not so many opportunities in the market to become researcher to be honest.  There is no automatic escalator after master’s or doctor’s program, just to let you know in advance.  It’s not easy at all, to tell the truth, there are few positions, you have to go through many challenges to reach one of them, and personal effort is a must but not enough.  Looking back my own case, on top of all the hard time I came through, it was impossible to make it without luck of timing and relationship.

 ●What a story.  Please give a message to students who are challenging such highest hurdle.

My major being university education, I would like to say a few words to students who are going to study at university.

I recognize that university is a place which realizes freedom such as freedom ‘to learn’ as knowledge and freedom ‘to think’.  And university is to execute its mission to protect that freedom.  Hence I hope that every university student fully utilizes the facility as this is not where you are forced to study but you proactively acquire knowledge, learn and think at your own will.

●Thank you for the message that carries a lot of weight! …I’m just curious but have you ever felt tired of doing research?

No, never!…But my only secret is that I have a bit of a hard time reading in English… I’m not very good at English. (lol)


● It was totally interesting interview hearing about a surprising personal history and other precious topics. Thank you very much!

The interview gave me another opportunity to better understand the occupation of ‘researcher.’ How did you like it?

<She said she loves detailed paintings like those by Bruegel and Jakuchu Ito.
A cookie box she got at “Bruegel print exhibition” has been displayed in a book shelf.

‘I also like Ono-kun from Arashi since I saw him on TV as MC of a program about Jakuchu Ito.’ >