Chapter VI System of Common Education
Section 1 Who requested the institutionalization of common education?
The thought of common education was formed in the late 18th century and made a varying number of educational experiments, focused on educators. As a member of the committee on public instruction, the French 18th century thinker, Condorcet (1743-1794), presented a scheme for the organization of a system for state education at the Assembly of the French Revolution. In England, after the Industrial Revolution, Owen (1771-1858) gathered the world’s attention for his views on collective ownership, centered on his cotton mill business, and the “Institution for the Formation of Character” that he set up within the property of his factory. In 1815, Owen requested limiting the hours of children’s labor in mills and the provision of education for them, by presenting parliament with the Factory Act. The labor movement in England strongly pursued legislation in order to enact “common education.” The capitalist class also realized the necessity of elementary education, and the institutionalization of education was promoted.
By the mid-19th century, governments in Europe and North American took initiatives to make elementary education compulsory and gradually put in place legislation in these related areas. In parallel, the International Workingmen’s Association urged for the legislation of common education. Marx (1818-1883) and Engels (1820-1895) stated their opinions proactively at this time. The following are what they asserted and requested in regard to common education.
● The state government shall provide common education within its capacity.
● Common education shall be fair to all children.
● Common education shall be continued until such time as children shall gain the ability to behave as active members of society.
● The law shall limit the working hours for working children.
● Elementary education shall start before a child becomes 9 years old.
● It is a social responsibility to protect the rights of children.
● The working class shall request to rescue children from the current disastrous environment by enacting general laws.
● Children shall receive education when they participate in the labor force.
● Common education shall include intellectual, physical and technical education. The technical education shall be regarded as a substitute for the time working shifts.
● It is not appropriate to deal with economic knowledge at elementary school.
● The law shall prohibit children to work at night or work in a deleterious environment.
● Common education shall not be regarded as the property of government.
● The responsibility of the government is to appoint the personnel to supervise compliance.
● The government shall have no vocal power regarding the curriculum.
● Common education shall be compulsory.
● Common education shall not have any subjects in association with any political matters or class system.
● Subjects, with many different possible conclusions, shall be avoided.
● The government shall use the general law to promulgate regulations on the educational budget, teachers’ qualifications, teaching subjects. This does not mean the state appointed government as the educational body of the people.
Please note that the legislations of schools in European and North American at that time influenced Japan and it’s cultural enlightenment to a large degree.
Section 2 Common education age
For how long are people of the country responsible to provide common education to children: from what age to what age?
The second clause of Article 26, Constitution of Japan, promulgates “All people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their protection receive common education as provided for by law. Such compulsory education shall be free.” Please note that “people” and “boys and girls under their protection” are differentiated.
The age appropriate to common education is not mentioned by the constitution any further than that. In literal translation, it is until children become independent “people,” so it is possible to interpret it as 18 years, from the day are born until they become 18 years old.
The age range suitable to the concept of common education is like that. Rousseau said “education begins at birth.” Maurice Debesse (1903-1998), an educator of contemporary France, said “The target of ours shall be people from their birth, or even a little before the birth, until around 20 years of age.”
Recalling the legislative process of the Basic Act on Education, the target age was presumably assumed to be from 6 to 18 years of age, or 12 years. The Basic Act on Education (1947) specified “9 years of education,” there was a recommendation for “12 years,” which reflected the constitutional concept. Yet, it was overruled by the voice of the Ministry of Finance before the legislation and set forth as “9 years.”
Neither the Constitution nor the Basic Act on Education states “from 6 years of age” either. Yet, the age to begin education “from 6 years of age” was understood from the regulations of the School Education Act, etc.
This paper shall discuss two types of common education: one education at senior high school level and another the very early stage of education prior to becoming 6 years old.
a) In the case of realizing the constitutional concept as it is and making it compulsory for children to receive 12 years of education: first of all, senior high school would not be compulsory (not meaning as used in the pre-war time) in an original sense. If so, the system of entering senior high school would be dismantled. Likewise, any other issues would also be redressed, such as the issue of a twisted senior high school reform of making senior high school education more different from one another, creating a distinctive character for each school, etc. Secondly, as will be mentioned again later, the tuition for senior high school education would be free for public and private schools (not limited only with the issue of tuition fees uncollected).
However, the Ministry of Education of the post-war time intentionally combined “shall be obliged” in the Constitution and “9 years” in the Basic Act on Education in order to position common education as a compulsory education with the compulsory period as 9 years. Therefore senior high school education shall not be included within compulsory education.
By the way, the Constitution regards the senior high school education as “common education,” but the School Education Act of 1947 states “to provide higher common education as well as specialized education.” This stipulation is also vague and open to different kinds of interpretation.
This clause took on board the junior high school regulations (higher common education and vocational education), and it is fair to say that this clause has not been properly adapted for the post-war period. I
It should have been made into “higher common education” in parallel with the educational aims set for elementary and junior high schools under the School Education Act (1947).
If the common education of “bringing up people as people in the universal sense” is fulfilled at senior high school level, it is likely that independent individuals as members of society would be fostered, holding rich human emotions and rational judgement.
Nevertheless, senior high school education in reality has been formed into the entrance exam competition, which leaves some students the only option of taking a job within one’s reach.
The Ministry of Education takes the clause “higher common education and specialized education” as the reason for legitimizing its action to have carried out “reform” of senior high schools to meet with the current economic state and labor policy throughout the post-war period.
b) How shall the common education of children under 6 years old be understood?
Children start to grow from the moment they are born, with their appetite and desire for further growth stimulated by family and various circumstances. The modality of education at the infancy stage has been discussed, in order that children obtain human rational judgement in the future. At the same time, there emerged a type of education with the purpose to “foster the national citizen” through the possibility of educating children at the infancy stage.
The “amended” Basic Act on Education newly introduced a clause of “early childhood education” and stipulated “the importance of early childhood education as a basis for the lifelong formation of one’s character.” The nationalistic education policy to determine the direction of various abilities of children can be identified also here. It is the “lifelong learning society” measures, which would not maximize the potential natural development to rationalize themselves in the future, but to have a certain direction ready for children to become. This clause is not supporting the view of bringing up children to be people.
The guidelines for care at kindergarten were revised at the time of the School Education Act amendment in 2007. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also revised the “Childcare Policy” which has the overall tone of developing a “zest for living” favorable to the government as the educational aim for kindergarten and nursery.
Today, under the government-led “combining kindergarten and nursery” policy, the “certified child center” has been institutionalized. The marketization of nurseries has also been carried out. Under these circumstances, the concept of common education should be protected properly throughout education in a practical sense, regardless of the state of the institutionalization of childcare and the education system for children under 6 years of age.
Section 3 No tuition for common education
The second clause of Article 26 stipulates that “such compulsory education shall be free.” As stated throughout this paper, the “compulsory education” mentioned here means “common education.”
The concept of the word “no tuition” shall not mean only the uncollected tuition. This concept includes all the other expenses when necessary for using textbooks, school supplies, transportation fees, school lunch fees, school trips, etc. Some countries cover the cost of dormitory fees, etc., for those students who have to live away from home for education.
It is a basic human right for mankind to earn independency. Independence is mutually sought. One can stand on one’s own by letting others become independent in a mutual sense.
This means if one refuses to live as a subject of an emperor under a scheme of fostering values of obligation for people to be subjects such as in the pre-war period, the premise of living as mankind is fundamentally rejected.
Since people are obliged to have children receive common education to bring up people as people in the universal sense, people must fulfil their responsibilities. One such obligation is to bear the cost of establishing an common education system.
Citizens of nation states are liable to taxation (Article 30). Needless to say, this liability to taxation is also a responsibility based on the basic concept of the Constitution of Japan. By fulfilling the obligation, the cost of supporting a common education system is borne. The government bears the responsibility of making sure all the conditions are met to ensure the establishment of a common education system, over and above people’s obligation. Needless to say, the relation of one side only enforcing obligations and the other side not taking responsibility of managing what enforce others obligations has to be reversed.
The Basic Act on Education, promulgated in 1947, limiting the constitutional meaning of “no tuition” to “do not collect tuition fees.” Having this in mind, the Act applies “not collect tuition” for “9 years of common education.” This is how the “collect tuition” at senior high school level came about. Another point is that “not collect tuition” limits “schools established by the national and local governments.” This is the reason why private schools from elementary level collect tuition fees.
The education for infants is also common education, provided by kindergarten and nursery as well as social welfare facilities, because in reality common education is practiced there also. At this point, it is necessary to review the tuition fees and childcare fees.
In addition, tuition fees at college and university have become a social issue today. Conceptually speaking, the university is not a common education institution. However, people have the right to receive that education for their ability, the responsibility of preparing the conditions for people to practice their right lays before the government, MEXT. On the Constitution, free tuition is not limited only for common education. The review of tuition for higher education should be reviewed thoroughly, taking into account of the possibility to make higher education free just like the free medical fees for infants, handicapped and elderly people, etc.
Section 4 Theory of school division retrograding in history
In post-war Japan, the school division of elementary, junior and senior high school has been 6-3-3. There was a series of changes in this order also in Japan before the war. Just before the defeat of the war, this school division was determined by the Elementary (National People’s) School Regulation and the Junior High School Regulation. This elementary schooling was thought to be for 8 years in the beginning, but the 6 year system was eventually adopted. The junior high school at this time was a combination of junior high school, senior women’s high school and vocational school, which were all fundamentally for 4 years.
The 6-3-3 system is said to be based on the suggestion of the United States Education Mission after the war. After that, the system goes through some changes, such as National Institute of Technology (legislated in 1960), the Combined Junior and Senior High School (three types: coordinated type, two-building type, secondary education school type legislated in 1998), but today, the matter of making the school division more flexible has become an issue of policy.
Why are schools divided like that? Is it necessary to do so? This question shall be considered through the concept of common education.
The Constitution of Japan obliges people to have their children receive a common education of “bringing up people as people in the universal sense.”
Having done that, the School Education Act, 1947, set the education aim from elementary school to senior high school as the provision of elementary common education, secondary common education and higher common education (adding “and specialized education” only to high school). On the history of common education, it was remarkable to have the single educational concept (common education) consistent throughout the education from elementary to senior high school. From this stand point, an issue of school division would fundamentally not arise.
Yet, the post-war period school system has not consolidated the concept any further. To be fair, people’s understanding was an issue, but more decisively, it was an issue of economy and finance.
The diversification of school divisions was promoted by the Central Council for Education report which stated “a consideration of expanding upper secondary education,” the report of the provisional council for education (1985-6) with the slogan “the principle of emphasis on individuality,” as well as another report by the Central Council for Education “a consideration for connection between lower secondary education and higher education” (1999). In recent years, under the name of “coordination between kindergarten and elementary school,” a policy of incorporating the ethics of elementary school governed by the curriculum guidelines into kindergarten education has been promoted.
The report of the Central Council for Education in 2003 “a consideration for the Basic Act on Education and the Basic Plan for Education Promotion suitable for new era” suggests that consideration would be given to “the school division framework which would make it possible for dividing the 6 year curriculum of elementary school and for coordination of various kinds that can be made between different types of schools, such as elementary and junior high school, junior high school and senior high school.
The School Education Act amendment in 2007 eliminated the school system point of view based on a single concept: elementary common education, secondary common education, higher common education.
The aim of education at junior high school was set to be “common education in the form of compulsory education” and “basics of common education in the form of compulsory education.” As for senior high school, the aim of education was “higher common education and specialized education.”
There is a notion of acknowledging the idea of compulsory education as being higher than common education, and that elementary school is placed within the premise of the educational aims of junior high school. There is no recognition of the concept of common education, which stands as the school system based on children’s growing stages.
The purpose of senior high school is separated from those of earlier schools and sets “higher common education and specialized education.” This brings back the image of “higher common education” fit for the purpose of junior high school in pre-war Japan.
There was a double-linear education that existed during the pre-war period, which was constructed through the course of establishing the school system as a whole. But this is of a fundamentally different nature from another double-linear education: the one common education system was sought and structured by the Constitution of Japan in the post-war period but after establishing the system which excluded higher education, the higher education has become de facto compulsory for the rate of students’ numbers advancing to higher education became so high. Indeed, this is an illustration of school division retrograding in history.
The secondary report of the Council for Educational Reform, publicly announced in June 2007, recommended a fundamental review of the school division, the 6-3-3 system. It is certain this reform will be on track with the neoliberalist structural change.
The school division has been diversified thoroughly by the theory of capitalism and neoliberalist structural change, ranked and reformed into the pyramid shape. It seems the concept of common education is not applied here.
The structural change of the school system is being questioned, whether the change would be based on the concept of common education or the change is based on the state-led compulsory education point of view, incorporated with neoliberalist drive as well as the curriculum guidelines.
The greatest sacrifices, caused by the reform of such a school division, would be made by children, teachers and direct guardians. The majority of people and guardians wish to direct schools back to the concept of common education and make school mutually learning places.
Section 5 Textbook system based on the concept of common education
a) The concept of education shall be consistent throughout the systems related to curriculum, textbook, educational content, etc. The curriculum system was already discussed in Chapter 3, so here the central focus is on the textbook system.
The school textbook has been developed in each country as modern schools were institutionalized. The textbook system of Japan has gone through a series of changes in the pre-war time, the report base approval system (Kaishin Sei), approval system, authorization system, state textbook system, etc. under the state regime of the emperor system.
It was expected after the war to structure the textbook system taking full consideration of the educational concept that was aimed for by the Constitution, Basic Act on Education.
Yet, the curriculum guideline measures made at the early stage the textbook system to be under the management of the Ministry of Education, and this resulted in a number of issues such as school textbook court cases.
School textbooks (books for subjects) are edited and printed today by private companies with reference to the standard curriculum, the curriculum guidelines. And these books are required to receive the MEXT textbook authorization in order to be adopted as authorized textbooks. The legal adoption system proceeds to the next step for the prefectural or municipal board of education to adopt those authorized textbooks.
The issue often rising with regard to textbooks is the section of historical education. Dr. Saburo Ienaga, a professor of Tokyo University of Education, brought up a case regarding a textbook titled “New Japanese History” (Shin Nihon Shi) for being unauthorized by the system. He was the author. This law suit lasted for nearly 30 years.
Today, the “Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform” recognizes that history textbooks in the past may have had a “self-condemnation view of history” and publishes textbooks on the side of “self-sufficiency and self-defense view of history.” Some schools chose to use these textbooks. At the same time, the textbook authorization system realizes there are some delicate issues, in fact quite a few issues, which may develop into political issues, such as the comfort women issue, the factual connections of the collateral mass civilian suicide in Okinawa with the Japanese troops, etc.
In reality the Textbook Authorization Research Council has been criticized for its dysfunctional state, by not completely independently from MEXT. It is recommended to have an academic perspective as well as a view of common education system practiced in a democratic manner.
The “Standards for Textbook Authorization” states “based on the aim of education, policy, etc. stipulated by the Basic Act on Education as well as the purpose of the school or the time of the education stipulated by the School Education Act.” The authorization standard would have to be fundamentally changed, as both of those acts have been amended.
Today, “to cultivate the value of respect for a love of the country and regions” can be stated for the aim of the “common education practiced in the form of compulsory education” under the Article 21 of the School Education Act, however it seems have become even more difficult to establish history awareness education or society awareness education from a common education perspective.
There is a need to recall Marx’s requests, such as “not have any subjects in association with political or class system matters,” “Those subjects, with many different possible conclusions, shall be avoided,” and so on.
Even if reasons are there in the eyes of adults, it is important for children at different growing stages to be shown involved human activities in detail, in a comprehensive and judgmental form.
Take MEXT as an example. In June 2008, MEXT publicly issued the junior high school curriculum guidelines commentary (social studies geography) which had written in it “there is a difference of assertion between Japan and that of Korea” in regard to the Takeshima Island issue. This is outrageous from the perspective of common education. It could be said to be an extremely aggressive political action.
The preamble of the Constitution was introduced in the prologue of this paper “We believe that no nation is responsible for itself alone, but that laws of political morality are universal.” This paper went on further to state that it is an issue for the common education associated with the “constitutional concept of tutelage” to cultivate values of judgement in what are the universal laws of political morality, and why they are universal, etc.
When complex political issues are regarded as those issued to be concerned with common education, it is not necessary to make those issued directly as educational issues. There is also no need for teachers to have thorough research teaching material in order to reach certain conclusions about detailed solutions to where he/she would hope to bring his/her class.
What the teacher should do is to let children learn from/with each other about the focal point of study, by converting the political issues into more fundamental issues. Teachers can guide such learning proactively, to lead them to think and to give them advice the issues that they have to consider and how they can learn about them.
Section 6 Teacher training and common education
The issue of the pre-service teacher training system has to be reconsidered from the perspective of common education. The student teachers should know thoroughly what it is to bring up people as people in the universal sense, what is the curriculum to bring up people as people in the universal sense, and specialized knowledge in practical and theoretical ways.
Has the pre-service teacher training in Japan been carried out in this way?
In post-war Japan, based on the Constitution of Japan and the Basic Act on Education, the teacher training system, a state regime of the emperor system, was symbolized in a phrase such as “normal type school” (Shihan gata), was converted into the teacher training system with the principle aim of “pre-service teacher training at colleges/universities” and an “open system.” At the same time, the Education Personnel Certification Act was enacted.
However, pre-service teacher training has gradually come under the control of the state government, the same as education as a whole.
Today, pre-teacher training has been carried out by university faculty field of teacher training. The teaching staffs of such faculty are taking charge of class subject(s) while holding academic fields of their own. It is not that all teaching staffs are specially trained to become teaching staff of universities and faculties in the field of teacher training. This is quite different in the case of teaching staff (does not apply to staff in charge of general teaching subjects) for medical schools. The teaching staffs for medical schools are trained at universities that conduct training for medical researchers. They are the ones who would train prospective medical doctors.
Among the teaching staff of university as well as faculty of education, only 10% of them studied at research training institutions in the field of education or educational psychology if not teacher training. The majority of teaching staffs are specialized in various academic fields to support the basic knowledge of pre-service teacher training (by definition) in a wider perspective.
Universities and faculties of education have a curriculum that meets with criteria of the Education Personnel Certification Act. This act itself is often changed, for non-academic reasons, under the influence of the Ministry of Education (Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). Every time this change occurs, the curriculum of the university and faculty of education goes through another review. The influence of the policy has a direct impact on the curriculum and class subjects in this area, and this is not seen in any other university and faculty.
The universities and faculty of education offer the necessary class subjects to obtain the education personnel certification required by the Education Personnel Certification Act; at the same time, teaching staffs are in charge of the class subjects of their specialties.
Since a large number of freshmen do not have the clear vision of becoming a teacher at the beginning, a number of educational courses are set up for such freshmen to find a direction favorable to their research interests or themes. Research guidance in the field of pre-service teacher training may not be the direct theme there. The students would gain the qualification to obtain the education personnel certificate by taking the required number of classes necessary for obtaining the certificate. Some students would regard this as a purpose for its own sake, and others may be devoted to the research in different academic fields with no relations to the pre-service teacher training, even if those students feel obliged to obtain the certificate.
The class subjects required for the education personnel certificate have three categories: subject specific studies, theoretical studies and pedagogical and research studies.
Generally speaking, teaching staffs are divided largely into two groups: those in charge of subject specific classes are one and referred to as “special subject” (Senmon), where the other are in charge of general theories, pedagogical studies and the research studies, etc., are “teacher training” (Kyoshoku). All of these teaching staffs, of both groups, are involved in pre-service teacher training as a whole. Now, ideally, all of those teaching staffs have a strong sense of membership of the university and faculty of education by earning teaching experiences through cooperating as well as deepening communication with each other for the same purpose of training prospective teachers. Yet, it is not that simple in reality.
From the perspective of “special subject” staff, it is likely that they would prefer to concentrate on their specialized field of study and minimize their involvement in teacher training. Their real wish kind would show itself when there is an opportunity for a large scale restructure of university or faculty, since they may view this as a chance for them to be out of the faculty in the field of pre-service teacher training.
It is not true to think that teaching staff of “special subjects” are not interested in teacher training. However, their involvement is generally based on their specialized field of studies. Since the Education Personnel Certification Act was “amended,” teacher training is expected to be more school practice specific in training. In this case, there emerges a contradiction, especially from the “special subjects” staff perspective. It tends to be more so when the expectation is led by a government administration body.
A large number of the pedagogical and research based subjects are required to acquire the educational personnel certificate, so the size of those class subjects tends to be quite large. Also recognized here is an inversion phenomenon, because class subjects dealing with subject classes of elementary school, etc. should be offered in smaller classes with highly specialized lectures and practices given, in both a theoretical and a practical sense.
In the case of “life environmental studies,” two subjects are necessary to meet with the certificate requirements: pedagogical studies and teacher training studies. Since this subject was introduced into the early years of elementary school, due to certain educational policies, this is an administration matter rather than of theories. Either way, there are no teaching staff for this class subject, so someone has to take it. It really depends on universities and faculties, but it is most likely that someone is taking the class when he/she is not specialized in the subject.
Under these circumstances, students as well as teaching staff may not be able to focus on the pre-service teaching training with passion.
Even in this situation, there are a number of universities and faculties of education that have successfully formulated their programs and courses with contributions from all staff of such universities and faculties of education, taking away imaginary walls between staff assigned in specific subjects and teacher training subjects. There are also other faculties of education that can unite teaching staff and make their programs and courses fulfilling, understanding “the faculty of education cannot become the faculty of teacher training if there are no staff in special subjects and teacher training, water and oil in a sense.”
One faculty of education has been offering five times more hours of teaching practices, etc. with the overall consensus of teaching staff and seeking the modality of pre-service teacher training based on a practical and realistic school environment. Another faculty of education pays attention to each staff’s specialized area of study and reconstructs the faculty through reaching out to the surrounding area of their interests as a whole to create truly necessary class subjects for teacher training. A research on the topic of the so called “model core curriculum” has been carried out.
When those efforts meet with common education in “bring up people as people in the universal sense,” the style of teacher training truly sought for today’s school education can be identified.
Section 6 of chapter 2 also discussed the teaching job. There are a volume of issues found not only in teacher training but also with school teachers in real schools. This reality has to be urgently dealt with. The question is, it is to be dealt with by either the government-led teacher policy or standing by the perspectives of common education with a children centric view.
In regard to the “principle of the open-style system” teacher training in the post-war period, perhaps it itself is necessary but it may cause some harm to teacher training if it remains insufficient for certain conditions. The involved personnel for this area should go back and gain a deep understanding of common education, that will “bring up people as people in the universal sense”, and the teaching training suitable to meet this criteria.
In 1966, UNESCO adopted the “recommendation concerning the state of teachers.” This stated there is a teacher training of a de facto common education perspective.
It should be remembered that the ministry of education during the pre-war period had issued the “guidance for elementary school teachers,” explaining the theory of teaching staff as well as pre-service teacher training from the perspective of “the quality of elementary school teachers, good or bad, is associated with the loosened or austerity state of common education, and this in turn is associated with the prosperity of the nation state.” The word “common education” is also used here. The education policy at this point in time was closely associated with eliminating the faction of free civil rights from the central government, which occurred just before this was issued. In this case, “common education” was already showing a strong nationalistic character.
The perspective of the “guidance for elementary school teachers” would be elaborated on by the regime of Imperial Prescript on Education, Imperial Constitution and formulate the image of education, so called the “grand master-type” education.
In 1882, in two years’ time after the “guidance for elementary school teachers,” Mr. Masakazu Toyama (1848-1900), the president of the department of literature at Tokyo Imperial University at that time gave a lecture titled “the guidance for elementary and junior high school teachers,” where he made the assertion that the pre-service teacher training should be standing by the side of children and should offer subject content as well as academically broad knowledge in regard to education and psychology. This type of view could not stand alone without having a conflict with a nationalistic education system and was rejected in the pre-war period in Japan. It is still a very important theory for teacher training, and requires a review today, in the post-war time.
Please refer to the Report of Central Education Council “Creating Compulsory Education for New Era,” (2005). In this report, the compulsory education of the pre-war time was illustrated its presence. The top-down management image of the educational administration from the MEXT to each school is described.