Chapter II Principles of Common Education
Section 1 Bringing up people as people in the universal sense.
The important issue is to clarify what does it mean to “bring up people” in the context of common education.
In a case of “bringing up people,” as seen in another term “creating an image of socially expected person,” this term is sometimes used as if forming children into an image of a person fit to favor from national society and such, just like using play dough to make shapes of one’s preferences.
At the same time, it is also true that the term “bringing up people” sometimes indicates a need to cultivate human resources that fit with the society in the future in a specific context such as “modernization” or the “knowledge-based society.” The term “bringing up people” used in a context of common education is fundamentally different from those meanings.
When Rousseau stated that “education creates people,” and Kant, a German philosopher in the 18th century, stated that “people can grow to be people only through education,” they are virtually making an issue of common education, even though they do not explicitly say so.
In that case, Rousseau paid particular attention towards fostering “common senses.” As for Kant, he emphasized the importance of “dialogue” among children, imagining Socrates, etc. How did they discuss about “bringing up people?”
Rousseau had fundamental doubts about “god’s reason” or “adults’ reason” but rather focused on “man’s reason.” What he considered was that there must be a fledgling moment of emergence in reasons for children, even before children are stamped with social seal. Having that thinking as a base, he developed his theory on what kind of procedures do children take in order to earn reasons of man. On the other hand, Rousseau considered children as collective senses and they will earn the “reasons of man” by exploring common sense, found through training their senses, and such senses are developed further with the assistance of teachers. His theory can be said as the sensationalistic and individualistic theory of human development.
On the other hand, Kant learned from Rousseau that there are foundations of reasons within children. Children are only egos to start with. However, through the course of growing up, they begin to understand the existence of others by experiencing friendship, human relationship or social relationship. At the same time, they will also begin to become aware of the common humanity that exists in themselves and others. In the context of this awareness of humanity, children grow to be conscious about self-existence. And this is what Kant thought was “bringing up people.”
When Rousseau and Kant discussed about “bringing up people,” they did not mean to form children into an image of men which were already prepared for them, but they meant to find the internal “man” in children and to foster this element to improve to be more manly, and that was what they reasoned was the education.
Compared to the time of Rousseau and Kant, our time now enjoys the established social infrastructure in regards to education. These two conditions cannot be compared. Under capitalism, the education policy has developed itself up to the highest ground in one sense, without an acknowledgement of common education. This fact, in return, is a source itself for common education to be profoundly expanded.
Section 2 Relations with “Bringing up People” and “Bringing up Citizens”
Does what the paper has discussed contradict “bringing up people” and “bringing up citizen?” Let us look into their relations with common education.
To state the answer first, some parts are contradicting parts and others are not.
Children will grow surrounded by brothers and sisters, family members, close friends, classmates, other friends, etc. They learn what it means to be among other beings, what kind of existent oneself is among other beings, and what kind of role one must play. Gradually, they will learn and obtain judgement skills.
Eventually, children will become aware of being a member of a family, close friends, class, other friends, etc. In this sense, what is the relation of being a member of a family and being one being? It may be the same for one to say I would like to be one being before being a woman or being a wife. A person grows up as one person, becomes aware of being a member of a family, and becomes able to make judgements.
However, in a contemporary society, sometimes, people forget they are individuals but are characterized only as members of a specific society, a group, an organization or a group of friends. And in general, they are requested to act only as these members.
It can be said the same thing when “fostering a sense of municipal citizen” or “fostering a sense of citizenship of a state” are in question.
The word ‘citizen’ has a broad meaning, but when it is defined as a member of a “civil society,” it is really up to one’s personality which value he/she will prioritize: the value of one individual over the value of a member of civil society or the value of a member of civil society over the value of one individual. This priority regulates his/her personality.
If the education policy of “fostering a sense of citizenship” sometimes stands against the judgement ability of one individual as a person and makes him/her prioritize their values as a member of civil society, then “fostering a sense of municipal citizenship” and “fostering a sense of state citizenship” contradicts with common education as a consequence. In this sense, when the concept of education takes a stance of neoliberalism, this concept would conflict with common education.
In regard to the issue of “fostering a sense of state citizenship,” as this paper has already introduced, a document of the former Ministry of Education expressed regret, stating that “one was to be a state citizen before being one individual in the past” and this was a mistake of nationalistic education. This document itself is profoundly self-explanatory.
This shows that “bringing up people” stood fundamentally against “fostering a sense of state citizenship” in pre-war Japan.
Of course, even in this context, this development of individuals is not conflicted by their simple mannered intention. As the document of the former Ministry of Education states, what kind of judgements are required and how do they behave as a state citizen, as Japanese, through the course of obtaining the judgement skills as a human beings. The aim should be based on “bringing up people” and foster a sense of each state citizen recognizing sovereign individuals.
Section 3 Individuals as a united whole of personality (individuality) and humanity (universality)
In the context of common education, it is a fundamental issue how to relate personality (individuality) and humanity (universality). During the post-war period of 60 years, there has been a major shift about personality in education policy.
Soon after WWII, the Ministry of Education distributed a booklet titled “Shin Kyoiku Shishin” (New Education Guideline) (1946). In that booklet, “the first part second half: Priority Issue of New Japanese Education” begins with “educational respect for individuals.”
After taking into account that “education shall aim to bring up people as people in the universal sense,” the part of the booklet presupposes the indivisibility of humanity and personality and discusses that mutually understanding personalities of each other (good point, relative merits, and strong/weak points, etc.) helps to support each other and eventually improve humanity, that is equal to personality, of one another. By having education work on this type of relation, a sense of social solidarity is strengthened, cohabitation is facilitated and eventually social progress is encouraged.
However, the “principle of respect for individuals” that the provisional council for education introduced in 1985 knock a wedge into the indivisibility of personality and humanity and emphasized personality over humanity.
This way of thinking was not limited to individuals but influenced broadly upon “family, school, community, cooperation, nation state, culture and time” (First Report of provisional council for education). This means the determination of factors, which heavily influence the determination of one’s personality, would be depending on his/her superior(s) preferences, if his/her personality is formed by various factors of different situations, such as cooperation or school. As a consequent, “the personality” which is determined by his/her superior(s) made it possible for a thorough managerialism to be carried out throughout every part of an organization. In parallel, individual personnel are forced with personal responsibility as well as being isolated from one another and forfeit their humanity. This is completely the opposite principle from the “respect for individuals” of the post-war period. The “principle of respect for individuals” has been regulating the policies of government as well as MEXT today, by being promoted through neoliberalism or a “structural change” in a sense of market fundamentalism.
The “amendment” of the Basic Act on Education in 2006 stood on the line of realizing the “principle of respect for individuals.”
In the preamble of Basic Act on Education enacted in 1947, there was a sentence stating “the creation of culture general and rich in individuality.” This is emphasizing the unity of cultural universality and individuality.
The advocates for the “amendment” have asserted to eliminate the word “general” from the sentence. They assert that the culture with general and universal values, the immutable value, shall be created through the course of development of culture, traditional and unique to Japan, the culture with full individuality. As a result, the “amended” Basic Act on Education eliminated the sentence “the creation of culture general and rich in individuality” and replaced it by “the creation of new culture.” The “new culture” is, as seen by immutability, illustrating the culture of specified generality, the culture which is polished by the sense of patriotism as well as normative consciousness.
These are self-explanatory. The “principle of respect for individuals” tears apart personality and humanity, that are two sides of one individual, off from him/her, extract only the personality. Then, each individual is regarded as one unit, one human resource or even an article of sale. This principle intends for such individuals as articles of sale to contribute towards international competition. In other words, those individuals, who are originally equipped with both personality and humanity, once being taken away the humanity side and only having the remaining “personality” side, are no longer belonging to their true selves. They have no other choice but to keep a personality as an article for sale.
Such a “principle of respect for individuals” has been maintained in today’s curriculum guidelines (courses of study: herein after this paper uses the term curriculum guidelines) as well as school management.
Under today’s curriculum guidelines (revised in 1998), the “period for integrated studies” is introduced as one form to realize the “more relaxed” (Yutori) policy, separately from the subject area.
As for the subject area, the 30% deduction from the subject contents was promoted, and “lightening the learning load” was attempted to some degree. Consequently, the division of children into two groups was progressed and the gap was enlarged: one group of those children who can keep up with the class and another for those who cannot.
On the other hand, although a number of learning practices were tried during the “period for integrated studies,” what was fundamentally intended was to have the learning suitable to each personality, meaning for a child to learn by his/herself.
Under both of the subject are and the “period for integrated studies,” children were separated into each individuals and requested to learn “alone.” Their performances varied reasonably for each personal preference, but that was intended. This intention was institutionalized furthermore by the introduction of “formation of classes according to students’ individual levels of academic achievement.”
Under these learning and educational circumstances, a form of contortion became visible among children and their friendships, which caused the expansion of insidious human relationships like bullying. Here, children are not asked to think themselves to help or learn from and with each other. Even if children felt it necessary to do so, those acts were regarded as not necessary and dismissed.
The “principle of respect for individuals” is also maintained here, separating personality and humanity. More the emphasis made on “improvement of academic achievement” through competitive learning practices, less the learning motivation of children was found. Any “academic achievement” was to be removed away at the next moment.
Section 4 People develop through stages
Every child is born with human abilities. Human abilities are cultivated in a given set of circumstances and developed in different growing environments. These abilities refer to a number of relatively different abilities, such as physical, intellectual, social, emotional, psychological, etc. They are innate abilities at first, in an undifferentiated and potential emerging matter.
Those human abilities are recognized to develop through stages. Rousseau, the author of “Emile” first introduced this. Rousseau rejected completely the domineering vision of education during his time, which supposed children as “small adults” and to bring up them into bigger adults.
Rousseau asserted that children are also equipped with innate abilities equivalent to rationale possibly unique to children and stated those abilities “have different forms of completion at different stages throughout one’s life as well as a particular way of matureness”. Moreover, Rousseau explained there are five stages for children to obtain the adult’s rationale or the human rationale, thoroughly expounded those five stages in detail, and developed an education theory to step forward to the next stage.
The concept of common education with the developmental stages as the main pillar has not been institutionalized yet in Japan. Nevertheless, the School Education Act enacted in 1947 included a stipulation that seemingly separated the one-dimensional concept called common education into three developmental stages.
More specifically, the aim of education for elementary, junior high, and senior high schools are determined each as “primary common education,” “secondary common education,” and “higher common education.”
Throughout from elementary school up to senior high school, the “common education” would be carried out and those years are divided into three stages, “primary,” “secondary,” and “higher” level. It is understood that those years are grouped together as a whole for “common education” to realize the stipulation of the Japanese Constitution. At this stage, there was a possibility to establish a common education system having the developmental stages as its foundation. But this possibility was not necessarily recognized so did not develop any further. The pre-war period point of view in regard to school zoning was reflected there.
That is to say, the educational purpose of national schools was “primary common education,” whereas the educational purpose of junior and senior high school was “higher common education.” The word “secondary common education” was not institutionalized, but Mr. Seitaro Sawayanagi wrote about “secondary common education” for chapter 4 of his book “Shin Nihonshi Kyoiku-hen” (New Japanese History Education Version) in 1927. Having slightly different meanings, the primary, secondary, and higher common education were all laid out before the war period.
For the School Education Act of the post-war period, the fact that senior high school is identified as “higher common education as well as specialized education” is related to the merger of junior high schools and occupational schools of pre-war time into the newly established senior high schools of post-war time. The Constitution Article 26 Clause 2 saw the word “common education,” which is connected with the constitutional mind of tutelage, being introduced. Yet, the realization of the concept was not done thoroughly enough. This inadequacy was fully taken advantage of for the reconstruction of senior high school.
The “amended” School Education Act in 2007 stipulated the educational purpose of junior high school as “common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education,” and that of elementary school as “the basic content of common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education.” As for senior high school, it was stated as “common education at higher level.” This is a significant problem.
Firstly, this means that the previous standpoint of the School Education Act was to abandon, the standpoint of three divided stages of “common education” throughout from elementary to senior high school. In any event, the expected stage-based stipulation as a possibility disappeared from the law without any explanations.
Thirdly, even though the word “common education” was used, they differentiated the education at senior high school level from the education at junior high school and earlier years, by setting the purpose of senior high school education as “common education at higher level.” This is reminiscent of the odd system under the umbrella of the double-linear school system of “primary common education” and “higher common education” in pre-war time.
During the Diet proceedings on the proposal for the “amendment” of the Basic Act on Education, an assembly member who led the amendment, Mr. Kosuke Hori, admired the former junior high school for a long time. His action indicated how much today’s government and financial world of Japan wish the revival of the pre-war (former) school system.
Section 5 Academic achievement equals abilities required in common education
The academic achievement in general is understood as “abilities obtained through learnings at school;” however, there are many other interpretations such as academic reports at school, abilities measured by exams, etc. Under these circumstances, a number of discussions and policies are carried out, including “debate on academic achievement” and “new academic achievement,” “a decline in academic ability,” “academic development,” etc. Some discussions are focused to organize the confused state of the concept of “academic achievement.”
Mr. Manabu Sato defines “Gakuryoku” (academic achievement) as a) as a mere translation of “achievement” and “achievement” signifies a function of “achieve” and actually does not signify any actual substance, b) Japanese “ryoku” in “gakuryoku” signifies “ability” meaning “authority” but the word “achievement” does not contain such meanings, and 3) therefore, after confirming the true meaning of “achievement,” “gakuryoku” then is “an attainment by learnings” in regard to “the content taught at school.” It is important by itself to focus on the meaning of attainment or accomplishment, but from the perspectives of the Japanese constitution, the attainment or aim of common education, which is whether or not the basic ability as a human being has been obtained, is the academic achievement in question here. “The content taught at school” or “learning” does not have as clear a conceptual meaning as academic achievement.
The author of this paper suggests the above statements and defines “academic achievement” as “the ability required by common education.”
From the perspective of common education for “bringing up people as people in the universal sense,” the basis of the academic achievement shall be measured by whether or not have all the children been brought up to be a person in an adequate manner as a member of a society, have all necessary abilities as a person been fostered up to the suitable level of their development stages, or are their rational judgement skills as a person developed, etc.
If there is a child with bad handwriting, the expectations for this child are all different from different people, such as his/her guardian(s), teacher, or expert in the field, etc. Some may think that this child is a child of the man/woman (whose handwriting may not be beautiful), or others may hope for this child to put his/her energy also towards reading rather than being stuck with only writing. Usually, what becomes an issue is an academic result whether or not one did well or not well.
How about the case of teachers? It is only one of the notable characters of one child to have a good handwriting. A teacher will give it consideration and recognizes this factor as one of the factors to come up with a holistic evaluation to this child (school student) whether or not this child has obtained abilities and skills necessary to have as a member of a society in the future, what kind of abilities and skills does this child need yet to obtain, what kind of friendship does this child need, etc. It is only teachers who need such a holistic evaluation as experts in the field.
Now, why is the aforementioned definition “abilities obtained through learning at school” not inadequate as academic achievement?
In the contemporary Japanese context, the school signifies learning at schools specified by the curriculum guidelines, and schools are even controlled by a number of different aspects. Therefore, in reality, “the abilities obtained through learning at school” directly means the academic achievement which the curriculum guidelines instructs.
Common education takes a position to entrust children’s rationale judgement, that they have obtained, about how they view real society when it comes to the time they become independent members of a society. Thus, the academic achievement as the “abilities required by common education” and other abilities, that are required under constraint to adapt a particular social setting, are fundamentally two different abilities.
In addition, the academic achievement or the “abilities required by common education” cannot be obtained only through learning at school. It is what the Constitution intends for people at home or in community would also cooperate to ensure the learning environment required by common education, based on basic understanding on academic achievements in general.
The question now is whether or not school, home, and social communities would “cooperate” to meet with the “academic achievement,” that is requested by the curriculum guidelines, or would schools in particular, society and home, etc. coordinate and cooperate with one another, having a common understanding about common education.
Section 6 Aim of the common education
This paper has discussed the common education as “the education for bringing up people as people in the universal sense.” What is its aim or purpose then?
Under the School Education Act enacted in 1947 we can be refer here to eight items specified as aims of the “primary common education.”
● To cultivate a proper understanding of human relations and cultivate a spirit of cooperation, voluntary and self-sufficiency, through the experiences of social life in and out of school
● To cultivate proactively the spirit of international cooperation by obtaining the correct understanding about the current status and history of our regions and country.
● To cultivate the basic knowledge and skills about clothing, food, housing and industry necessary to everyday life.
● To cultivate the proper understanding and skills to use the national language necessary to everyday life.
● To cultivate the proper understanding and the processing ability of numerical relations necessary to everyday life.
● To cultivate the processing skills through scientific observations of natural phenomena in everyday life.
● To foster the sense of necessary practices for a healthy, safe and happy life and make efforts for the harmonious development of mind and body.
● To cultivate the basic knowledge and skills of music, art, literature that enrich one’s life.
It is certainly possible to consider academically about the legitimacy of legalizing the purposes themselves; however, as far as an understanding of the concept of common education, these are well sorted items of purposes.
The School Education Act at that time (these purposes were stipulated under the School Education Act before the amendment in 2007) had three further items for the “secondary common education” as well as three more for the “higher common education.” The three items of the “secondary common school” and the three of the “higher common education” are regarded as being included within the eight items. There is no set rule over purposes of common education, but by considering the content of the eight items of purposes for the “primary common education,” they cover the entire purpose of common education to a certain degree.
If these purposes are integrated into the Constitution and the Basic Act on Education, which were enacted at about the same time, and materialized, the post-war common education must have achieved a great deal of results. Nonetheless, as the Section 4 of the chapter 3 discusses, the common education purposes at each school that was proposed by the School Education Act lost its vitality under the curriculum policy whose concept was opposite to that of the Basic Act on Education. The “amended” School Education Act of 2007 encouraged the change of direction at an unprecedented scale.
The “amended” School Education Act followed the suit of the “amended” Basic Act on Education and chose to use the phrase “the common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education,” instead of “common education” by itself. Having done that, and also acknowledging the educational aims of the “amended” Basic Act on Education, it stipulated ten items of purposes for the “the common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education” (Article 21).
By the way, would the teaching methods have to be changed because of the change from “the common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education” as the educational aim of the junior high school as well as “the basic content of common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education” as the aim of the elementary school? That is not so. Even though the “amended” Basic Act on Education and the “amended” School Education Act adapted the use of the phrase “the common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education,” the Constitution requires all the children to receive an common education. The “common education” and “the common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education” are presumably different, but the differences in practicing them have not been clearly instructed in the legal framework.
The third item of “the common education to be practiced in the form of compulsory education” shall be highlighted as a case study to consider here about this point. The following is the third item in question.
“To foster the value to respect tradition and culture by leading (students) to reach the correct understanding of the current status and history of our country and regions, to cultivate the value of respect to love our country and regions that have developed such tradition and culture, and to cultivate the value of respect to other countries through proactive understanding of foreign cultures as well as to contribute to the peace and development of international society.”
This paper shall discuss only a small part of this time: “leading (students) to reach the correct understanding, of the current status and history of our country and regions.”
What kind of teaching methods are available, when this purpose is aimed to achieve, following the concept of the “amended” Basic Act on Education as well as the “amended” School Education Act?
The general idea regarding “the current status and history of our country and regions” is to study the teaching materials thoroughly to identify what kind of materials and contents would actually make it possible to lead students to reach the correct understanding, following the curriculum guidelines and its instructions, etc. Then a large volume of teaching references are collected to build absolute confidence to determine how it will let them reach the correct understanding. This type of teaching method does not require the presence of children.
On the contrary, from the perspective of the “common education,” the instruction needs to be for students to obtain judgement skills to decide how they, as each person, should understand “the current status and history of our country and regions.”
In regard to “the current status and history of our country and regions,” each child may bring in the information, which he/she has collected from family member, references, various media, etc. And they may share with their classmates about their understandings of each piece of information. Children then would find out that there are many other understandings and there are many more things that they need to know. Through such learnings, classes can deepen their understanding, with the assistance of teacher(s), about questions such as, what were autocrats seeking, what were common people seeking, what were people fundamentally seeking throughout history, and what is it for people to keep on trying throughout?
By experiencing a number of these kinds of classes, children would be able to understand more deeply about their “country and regions” or other matters as well as to make value-based judgements of some sort. Through this kind of education, the abilities would form, including judgement skills necessary as a sovereign being, the awareness of basic human rights, the sense of rights that exist within peace, etc.
An establishment of purposes to encourage this type of teaching was already suggested by the “purpose” of the social studies, the junior high school curriculum guidelines that was amended in 1958. It was stated:
“to cultivate the value of love towards regions and land of the country by having a broad perspective through making them think of the relations between lives of people and nature as well as the underlying common humanity in such a relationship.” (Underline by the author of this paper)
The purpose of common education is also very closely related to the way of classes, in detail how they should be presented. It is not absolutely necessary to change that even though the educational purpose was rewritten as “common education to be practiced as compulsory education.”
Section 7 One’s personality is formed to the completion by common education
How is common education “bringing up people as people in the universal sense” related to forming one’s personality? To present the answer first, common education has a mutually prescribed relationship with forming one’s personality. The state of common education determines the forming of child’s personality; at the same time, forming of child’s personality also stipulates common education.
For the “completion” of the personality, it is necessary to make their connection more solid and tense. Children will be able to exercise their active involvement in many areas as an individual or as a person, through the fulfilling of common education. Being motivated by this kind of active involvement, a society of children or a society as a whole will be given such motility and influence in the formation of a child’s personality in the end. This in fact will make common education even more fulfilling by reacting to the world of common education in return. This reciprocal relationship between common education and the formation of children’s personalities would be developed synergistically.
All individual beings exist as each personality, in reality. The personality of a child is fundamentally stipulated by the social system as a whole: the society in which they reside (more realistically, a society of adults and another society of children under that society). In more detail, children’s personalities are regulated in both subjective and objective manners by an environment of various combinations, such as parents and their child(ren), siblings, friends, friendship/partnership in class or in organizations, etc. Children’s personalities turn out to reflect a collective social relationship that is so unique to the society of children.
This collective social relationship includes academic institutions understandingly. The personality of one individual receives such a significant level of influence by the state of education as well as common education. In a society, where a nationalistic education or where an education is driven by the competition principle, children’s personalities tend to become more divided.
The amended Basic Act on Education of 2006 states in the beginning of its Article 1 (Purpose of Education) that “the education will aim to complete the personality of children.” The “personality” in this case indicates the completion of personality suitable to be “a national citizen,” giving a consideration to the intention of the “amended” Basic Act on Education, Chapter 1 “Aim and concept of education.” In other words, our society as a whole, inclusive of the education sector, would aim to foster the form of the personality in order for it to behave with a certain set of values as a standard, where one is constantly aware of the social expectations to be “a national citizen.” Growing up in such a society, he/she is expected to experience and learn the rules of life and norms, and again, those rules and norms are particular in such a society. This aim would contradict with the concept of the Constitution.
The first meeting of the provisional council for education in 1985 explained about the “completion of personality” as “it is enveloped in the people’s continuous and endless endeavors of seeking the ultimate values: the values that go beyond the individual and natural humanity, universal, idealistic and supreme kind”. The “amended” Basic Act on Education also explains the “completion of the personality” similarly, leading to this kind of arbitrary image on personality. Having this image as a base, the “image of personality” specific to a country is made and the path to realize that image is also made available by the “entire society” to force it upon all the citizens of this country.
The Basic Act on Education enacted in 1947 also stated “education aims to complete the personality” (Chapter 1). Regardless to say, the “completion of the personality” here is to be placed under the broad interpretation of the common education of “bringing up people as people in the universal sense” in order to realize the “constitutional concept of tutelage.”
This “completion of the personality” was expressed as an indication of the “development of the personality” through the course of formulating the Basic Act on Education. However, some pointed out the possibility of misleading the “development of the personality” as to develop what is naturally wild as untouched. At the same time, others convinced that the “personality” can be expressed as the “character of people for the reason that they are people.” Through a series of discussions, the “completion of the personality” was decided to be used.
Hence, children’s “personality” is not passively formed by common education but actively “completed.” Under common education, children have the awareness of “humanity” and with this awareness, they would explore and learn the commonly important aspects for themselves, their pears, and their society. These explorations and learnings are practiced more subjectively with teachers’ assistance in the learning and educational environment where children learn from and with each other.
This learning process is, at the same time, facilitating various social relations themselves for each child. Consequently, the process of common education and the process of forming the personality can be said to be one unity. Thus, the “completion of the personality” is set forth by the degree of fulfillment of common education from the child’s perspective.
The terms of “primary, secondary and higher common education” was already used in the pre-war time Japan, but their nature was different then. The primary common education was used as a legal term to specify the educational aim of the national school, although the term was adopted at quite early time. Also the term was not associated directly with the secondary common education either. The term secondary common education can be found in earlier documents, yet it was not used legally. The term was interpreted as an education necessary for the middle class families. As for the term higher common education, it too was used in the pre-war time within the field of secondary education, yet it was used in the context where required to have connections with higher education. Consequently, none of these terms actually meant each stages of development in the context of common education. They had a strong sense of social class system.
The “amended” Basic Act on Education defines the “common education practiced in the form of compulsory education,” which is very similar to the purpose of stipulating “compulsory education” given in the report of the Central Education Council of 2005, “Creation of Compulsory Education for the New Era.” This is that “the aim of the compulsory education is two-fold: to form every citizen’s character and to cultivate the value of developing country and society.” The fact it is two-fold remains us of a time when education policy changed its course from the concept of common education to the national education in late 19th century (Meiji 20’s). Mr. Minoru Otsubo, a member of the Elementary School Regulations Investigation Committee, made a speech to differentiate the “national education” from the “common education,” by stating “the national education has two “factors” and they are to educate [children] for themselves and to educate [them] worthy to become a member of country.”
In addition, a phrase “common education as compulsory education” can be identified in a speech made by Mr. Kazuyuki Egi in 1891, an executive member of the Ministry of Education. His speech located the common education inferior to the national education: “in order to disseminate the national education, it mainly has to be based on the common education.”