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Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan

Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan

Copyright Date: 1995
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  • Book Info
    Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan
    Book Description:

    "Breathe[s] new life into the historiography of Meiji education." --Monumenta Nipponica

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6401-9
    Subjects: Education, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note on Japanese Names and Terms
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction Knowledge and Power in Modern Japan
    (pp. 1-17)

    One morning in September 1872, fifty-four students converged on the Kanda district in central Tokyo in preparation for the opening day of classes. They gathered at the old Shōheikō—once the preeminent school for orthodox Neo-Confucian studies under the Tokugawa bakufu (1600–1867)—in a lecture hall now shorn of tatami mats and outfitted with wooden floors, desks, benches, and a blackboard. They constituted a select group, having gained admission only after passing a highly competitive entrance examination that attracted more than three hundred applicants.¹

    Their teacher for the coming year was himself specially appointed to his position by the...

  6. 1 Method in Search of a Theory
    (pp. 18-55)

    Most Japanese historians attribute the introduction of developmental education into Japan to a haphazard process of cross-cultural borrowing during the early to mid-1870s. They note that the Western (chiefly American) pedagogical texts used in the nation’s first normal schools were randomly selected and display little intertextual consistency. Indications that teachers and students in those schools managed only a superficial understanding of the doctrine are, in turn, apparent from the manner in which it was disseminated: through blind imitation of teaching practices demonstrated by Marion Scott or described in these texts, rather than through critical discussion or experimental application of the...

  7. 2 Principles and Politics
    (pp. 56-102)

    In August 1875, shortly before the publication of his bookTrue Method of Teaching,Isawa and two other young men—Takamine Hideo and Kōzu Senzaburō—journeyed to the United States to learn about American teacher education and to study contemporary teaching and administrative methods. Isawa enrolled at the Bridge-water Normal School in Massachusetts, graduating in 1877. From there, he proceeded to Harvard University to study science. Takamine matriculated at the Oswego Normal School in New York, which was at the forefront of a movement to adopt Pestalozzian principles and practices—especially object teaching—in American schools. Kōzu studied at the...

  8. 3 Bound by the Old School Tie
    (pp. 103-131)

    Chapters 1 and 2 examined teaching manuals that were published for use either as textbooks in normal schools and other teacher training programs, or as practical guidebooks for primary school teachers already in schools. To varying degrees, they all shared two main objectives. The first was to provide a comprehensive statement of the fundamental principles, or natural laws, underlying a universalscienceof education. The second was to introduce specific instructional methods and techniques belonging to theartof teaching. Although based upon scientific principles, these methods were supposed to be flexible. In theory, at least, teachers had both the...

  9. 4 Between Education and Politics
    (pp. 132-203)

    The foregoing examination of theJournal of the Tokyo Meikei Societyidentified some of the possibilities and the obstacles that educational journalism presented to both proponents and critics of developmental education. Unlike teaching manuals, theJournaldepended on written contributions from Society members, making authors of its readers. It offered them a monthly forum to discuss their own interpretations of the doctrine and to participate in an ongoing critique of competing interpretations and of local programs to implement it.

    At the same time, the Society’s own regulations limited the breadth and depth of their dialogue and indirectly hampered their ability...

  10. 5 Refining the Medium, Redefining the Message
    (pp. 204-229)

    For proponents of developmental education—whether Japanese, European, or American—the task of reforming the methods of instruction was inseparable from another task: redesigning the tools of instruction. The Tokyo Normal School, which played a major role in disseminating the new teaching methods based on the doctrine of developmental education, received authorization from the Ministry of Education in November 1872 to produce its own primary school wall charts and textbooks. That authority was transferred back to the ministry barely six months later, but not before the ministry had approved many of the materials produced by the Tokyo Normal School for...

  11. Conclusion The Legacy of Developmental Education
    (pp. 230-248)

    In their assessments of the impact of developmental education in Meiji Japan, it is common for Japanese historians to ask, “What went wrong?” The question is understandable, since among Meiji educators—as with their American and British mentors—support for developmental education signaled a commitment to reform, and yet, by the late 1880s educators were complaining that not only had developmental education failed to bring about any lasting pedagogical improvements, but it had itself been changed for the worse.

    Thus, in his appraisal, educational historian Hiramatsu Akio points out seven major shortcomings of developmental education as it came to be...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 249-280)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 281-288)
  14. Index
    (pp. 289-298)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 299-300)